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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: “Endymion” by Thomas Kinsella


As we get ready to celebrate Halloween, let’s take a moment to think about where the most frightful holiday of the year comes from—Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). Samhain is a traditional Celtic celebration to remind people that the year is about to get darker, and that harvest season is over: Winter is here! It’s also a time when the barrier between our world and the spirit realm thins. Samhain is traditionally celebrated during the transition from October to November, hence why Halloween ended up landing on October 31. So, in honor of our otherworldly guests, we’re bringing you a mysterious little poem by Thomas Kinsella this week. Originally published in Notes from the Land of the Dead (1973), “Endymion,” like the creature it describes, is shrouded in darkness. Kinsella creates a world the size of cave and populates it with something we only ever see small pieces of.


At first there was nothing. Then a closed space.
Such light as there was showed him sleeping.
I stole nearer and bent down; the light grew brighter,
and I saw it came from the interplay of our two beings.
It blazed in silence as I kissed his eyelids.
I straightened up and it faded, from his pallor
and the ruddy walls with their fleshy thickenings
—great raw wings, curled—a huge owlet stare—
as a single drop echoed in the depths.

– Thomas KinsellaCollected Poems (2006)

Categories: Poem of the Week, Thomas KinsellaTags: , ,

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