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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: “Kassapa” by Richard Murphy

Lion's paws at Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Lion’s paws at Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Kassapa

Perhaps the king, whose name evoked the sun,
Riding his elephant, under a pearl umbrella
Through parched rice-fields on the dry zone plain,

Had seen this rock aspiring from the earth
To penetrate the clouds loafing in heaven:
And put five hundred of his virgin brides,

Dressed in cascades of jewellery, to make
A splash on the summit, and entice the gods
To cast their semen on the ground as rain:

Then shone here, as the god of wealth, supreme
In rice and gems, going about on three legs,
Devising arts to give the gods sublime

Erections that would last: broad galleries
Of golden girls the rock itself embraced
Inside a wall whose mirror caught their souls:

And sheathed the rock-head in a lion mask
To father a strong race, out of whose mouth
At festivals he made great fountains pour.

Richard Murphy, from Collected Poems 1952–2000 (2001)


Categories: Poem of the Week, Richard MurphyTags: ,

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