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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “December” by Brendan Kennelly

In this rumination on the holiday season, Brendan Kennelly shares commentary on how gift-giving traditions are often out of tune with the spirit of a religious occasion. The diction excludes holiday-specific language and only tangentially refers to the time of year, perhaps suggesting that materialism isn’t always tied to the holidays. 


It’s December, presents are lunatics—
spoons, napkins, knives, writing-paper,
classy jars of delicious jam.
I’ve sent you nothing but my small books,
I must seem tight as a mackerel’s arse
on a winter’s night, and that’s water-tight.
But I despise the treacherous generosity
of presents. Presents are like hooks,
the greedy fish is fooled by the fly he swallows.
In refusing to give presents to rich friends,
the poor man shows true generosity. 

Brendan Kennelly, from The Essential Brendan Kennelly (2011)

Categories: Brendan Kennelly, Poem of the WeekTags: , ,

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