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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: “Demotic Nocturne” by Ciaran Carson

The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a painting by John Martin (1789-1854)

In the spirit of Halloween we offer Ciaran Carson’s “Demotic Nocturne”, a tantalizing and chilling nighttime adventure that takes the reader on a technicolor journey that “disperses all the boundaries of hearth and home.”

“Demotic Nocturne” appears in Carson’s collection In the Light Of, translated from Rimbaud’s Illuminations.

Demotic Nocturne (Nocturne vulgaire)

A breath cleaves operatic breaches in the walls
of shimmery, dilapidated marble halls,

disperses all the boundaries of hearth and home,
and blurs the casement windows with faery foam.

One foot planted on a gargoyle, shimmying along
the grapevine, I fell into this coach whose chaise longue

interior bespoke antique, as did the panes
of bull’s-eye glass, the panels boasting marbled veins.

Hearse of my sleep, my bucolic folly caravan veers on
the verge of the overgrown high road to Bygone.

And the swirling in a window-bubble north-north-west
I saw pale lunar figures, leaves, and breasts.

Deep bottle blue and verdigris invade the scene,
unhitch the horses teetering along the scree.

This is where you whistle up the storm of Sodom,
vicious beasts, and armies wreaking drunken bedlam.

Postilion and dream animals, will they reprise
themselves below the suffocating forest trees,

to plunge me headlong in the fount of silk? And send
us lashed across these lapping waters I have penned,

across a floor awash with shattered glass and drink
to roll before the barking mastiffs black as ink,

whose jaws dispense a cataract of awful foam…
a breath disperses all the boundaries of home.

Ciaran Carson, from In the Light Of (2013)

For In the Light Of , Ciaran has just been shortlisted for the 2013 Corneliu M. Popescu Prize (formerly the European Poetry Translation Prize). The Popescu Prize is awarded for outstanding work in translation from a European language into English. The winner will be announced November 29.

Interested in reading more from In the Light Of or other works by Ciaran Carson? Click here.

Categories: Ciaran Carson, Poem of the WeekTags: , , , ,


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