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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."

It’s publication day for The Stairwell

We are delighted to announce that The Stairwell by Michael Longley is now available on our website! For the Poem of the Week, we offer here the title poem.

 

The Stairwell

 For Lucy McDiarmid

I have been thinking about the music for my funeral—
Liszt’s transcription of that Schumann song, for instance,
‘Dedication’ — inwardness meets the poetry of excess —
When you lead me out of your apartment to demonstrate
In the Halloween-decorated lobby the perfect acoustic
Of the stairwell, and stand among pumpkins, cobwebby
Skulls, dancing skeletons, and blow kisses at the ceiling,
Whistling Great War numbers — ‘Over There’, ‘It’s a Long,
Long Way’, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ (the refrain) 
As though for my father who could also whistle them,
Trench memories, your eyes closed, your head tilted back,
Your cheeks filling up with air and melody and laughter.
I hold the banister. I touch your arm. Listen, Lucy,
There are songbirds circling high up in the stairwell.

Michael Longley, from The Stairwell (2014)


Categories: Irish Poetry, Michael Longley, Poem of the Week, Poetry

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  1. There seem to be two errors in the reproduction of this poem: line 8 “Its’s” & line 11 “you head tilted back”.

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