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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: “Closed Bells” by Medbh McGuckian

As we transition into winter, Medbh McGuckian’s frosty poem Closed Bells reminds us of the fast-dropping temperatures. Her fleshed out, frostbitten images offer the characteristic “wordlessness” for which McGuckian is best known and create a dream world suspended in the mid-season chill.

Closed Bells

Frost hollows
small areas of leaf
in gardenless
margins.

Wounded by the thought
of nests expanding,
they inspire
devotion of a sort,

using this world
as if not
using it to the full,
a risky limbo.

Front action
on the loose-fitting stones
and frost-broken rock
over-divides itself

and puts the spent hops
with their pinch
of old seed
off flowering.

Rust will devote itself
entirely to
that ringingly taut
and ample root,

though they will come
into flower
together
a close grey spring

if you study
your windswept window
carefully
bearing their colours in mind

that would find the move
too much
if they did not
answer to this blue

found between the bones:
movement towards
a touch, with two
five-nerved lips

reflexed to form a star,
or one indistinct nerve
erect and desirable
in your violet throat.

Medbh McGuckian, from The Book of the Angel (2004)

 


Categories: Irish Poetry, Irish Women's Poetry, Medbh McGuckian, Poem of the Week, Poetry

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