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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: “It’s easy to talk, and writing words on the page” by Philippe Jaccottet

In this selection, Philippe Jaccottet explores the function of poetry as well as the emotional turmoil that comes along with writing it. The tone is confessional and conversational, creating an accessible piece about the dilemmas a poet faces.

“It’s easy to talk, and writing words on the page”

It’s easy to talk, and writing words on the page
doesn’t involve much risk as a general rule:
you might as well be knitting late at night
in a warm room, in a soft, treacherous light.
The words are all written in the same ink,
‘flower’ and ‘fear’ are nearly the same for example,
and I could scrawl ‘blood’ the length of the page
without splashing the paper or hurting
myself at all.

After a while it gets you down, this game,
you no longer know what it was you set out to achieve
instead of exposing yourself to life
and doing something useful with your hands.

That’s when you can’t escape,
when pain is a figure tearing the fog
that shrouds you, striking away
the obstacles one by one, covering
the swiftly decreasing distance, now
so close you can make out nothing
but his mug wider than the sky.

To speak is to lie, or worse: a craven
insult to grief or a waste
of the little time and energy at our disposal.

Philippe Jaccottet, translated by Derek Mahon, from Selected Poems (1988)

it's easy to talk, and writing words on the page


Categories: Derek Mahon, Poem of the WeekTags: , ,

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