The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed – my brain
Idling on some compulsive fantasy –
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth.
It seems again that it is time to learn,
In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
To which, for the time being, I return.
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
And little more; for they are not made whole
That reach the age of Christ.
Below my window the wakening trees,
Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
Suffering their brute necessities;
And how should the flesh not quail, that span for span
Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young, and not renewable, but man.
Another incredible poem from my list of top 100 Irish poems.
A comment about the poem Mirror in February I read summed it up very well:
The steady drip-drip-drip of deterioration in sage of skin and dulling of eyes. But we all, man or woman, continue to dress ourselves in our armour to face the day.
At the age of 92, Thomas Kinsella is an Irish poet. He was born in Inchicore, Dublin.
Poems 1956-1973 (Dublin, The Dolmen Press, 1980);
Another September (Dolmen, 1958);
Poems & Translations (New York: Atheneum, 1961);
Downstream (Dolmen, 1962);
The Clergyman (Dublin: St Sepulchre’s Press, 1965);
Tear (Cambridge, MA: Pym-Randall Press, 1969);
Nightwalker and Other Poems (Dolmen, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 1968; New York, Knopf, 1969);
Ely Place (Dublin: Tara Telephone Publications/St. Sepulchre’s Press, 1972);
The Good Fight (Peppercanister 1973);
Notes from the Land of the Dead and Other Poems (Knopf, 1973);
Fifteen Dead (Peppercanister, 1979);
One and Other Poems (Dolmen, Oxford University Press, 1979);
Peppercanister Poems 1972-1978 (Dolmen 1979; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University Press, 1979);
One Fond Embrace (Deerfield, MA: Deerfield Press, 1981);
St Catherine’s Clock (Oxford University Press, 1987);
Blood & Family (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988);
Poems from Centre City (Peppercanister, 1990);
Madonna and Other Poems (Peppercanister, 1991);
Open Court (Peppercanister, 1991);
The Pen Shop (Peppercanister, 1997);
The Familiar (Peppercanister, 1999);
Godhead (Peppercanister, 1999);
Citizen of the World (Peppercanister, 2000);
Littlebody (Peppercanister, 2000);
Collected Poems 1956-2001 (Oxford University Press, 2001);
Marginal Economy (Peppercanister, 2006);
Collected Poems 1956-2001 (Wake Forest University Press, 2006);
Belief and Unbelief (Peppercanister, 2007);
Man of War (Peppercanister, 2007);
Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2007; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 2010)
Fat Master (Peppercanister, 2011);
Love Joy Peace (Peppercanister, 2011).
Late Poems (Carcanet, 2013).