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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: “Nouns and Verbs”

One thing we love here at the Press is words—both in Irish and English. Vona Groarke’s “Nouns and Verbs” celebrates the love of choosing just the right word.

Nouns and Verbs

Between the lighthouse and the vied-for verb
to fix what the beam was doing to the air,
we scattered brilliance with our every move,
two bickering visionaries on the hoof
between dawned-on and unvisited skies,
flights of fancy and our manky shoes,

and came to rest on ‘shimmy’, ‘shoulder’, ‘segue’,
calling it quits, not seeing how the vague
cliff was pinning itself down to a thin line
that we’d have crossed with even one
more unilluminated step, to wimple (indeed)
our own way to the furies underneath

with their ultimate nouns and unwavering calm or,
deeper still, a silence to steal clamour
from adventurous mouths, while nothing occurred
that wasn’t spray thrown up by fine words
coming down a-tumble round our ears
like dust; like plucked feathers.

Vona Groarke from Flight and Earlier Poems (2004)


Categories: Irish Poetry, Irish Women's Poetry, Poem of the Week, Vona Groarke

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