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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: “Going Feral” by Harry Clifton

“Going Feral” by Harry Clifton transposes the myth of Romulus and Remus or (Julia Fullerton-Batten’s 2015 photography series) and plays with the line between human and animal, the classical and the contemporary. Beginning “In a tenement room,” it speaks to the desperation of poverty in an urban sprawl (“the forest of cities”) and the alienation of contemporary culture. By its final line, “In the forgotten corner of a lost, unfallen world,” it reveals its connection to Clifton’s larger quest for “a lost maternal ground” in his latest collection Gone Self Storm.

Going Feral

Only here, with a pack of starving hounds
In a tenement room or a patch of public ground

She and all the creatures learnt to share,
Did the humans, telling her she was not all there,

Abandon her forever or a while
To wander the forest of cities, like a child

Suckled on wolf’s milk, smelling of dog,
Unable to defend herself, or beg

In a common language. Knowing the Word
But no grammar. Panting in surds

At the packs of the concerned—the half-sisters,
Half-brothers, cloned from the masters,

Finding her where they left her, curled
In the forgotten corner of a lost, unfallen world.

– Harry Clifton, from Gone Self Storm (2023)

Categories: Harry Clifton, Poem of the WeekTags: , ,

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