My poet today is David Marcus (1924-2009), a poet (also editor, translator and novelist) whom I only discovered in the last couple of years. I bought Lost and Found: Collected Poems (New Island, 2007) from a bargain bin in a Dublin bookshop. It was one of those serendipitous moments, as I had been reading an article about David Marcus’s work and then a few days later I spotted this volume while browsing. The collection was edited by George O’Brien who says of Marcus, ‘ It’s hard to think of another figure in twentieth-century Irish literary life to whom the designation ‘man of letters’ is better suited. In ways that have been as unselfish as they have been influential, David has truly been a person of the book.’ High praise indeed; The phrase ‘person of the book’ conjures up a wonderful image of someone it would have been good to know.
From David Marcus’s collection I have picked out the following love poem to act as a modern counterpart to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet a few days ago:
For thee, my love, a lifelong lease on Time,
Safe passage through the crumbling Halls of Life,
Eternal stay in the most temperate clime,
And clear exemption from dark Age’s knife.
If I could garner knowledge from the air
Or by some strange or subtle alchemy
Compound a wine that has of each a share,
If needs, I’d bring it in my hands to thee.
The sweetest verse should every day be spoken.
Your face by every person should be seen.
Your form for other beauty might have been.
It’s easy known my love could not be such,
Even so, yet still I love you much too much.
I would most certainly love to have an ‘exemption from dark Age’s knife’ if such a thing were possible. That not being so, I shall have to make do with words (which are ageless).
For more information on David Marcus’s work Irish Writers Online is a useful resource.
#PoetryinJune is entering the last few days and I hope you have enjoyed the verses that I chose to feature. Thanks to the people who have been kind enough to ‘like’ and comment. As this week also sees the last week of my daughter’s primary school career, I may wax a little nostalgic over the next few days. You have been warned…