Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “The Reading Fever” by Medbh McGuckian
Medbh McGuckian’s latest volume, Blaris Moor, was released this week in the US. The volume’s title refers to a traditional ballad that memorializes the trial and execution in 1797 of four militia men condemned by the authorities as members of the United Irishmen. McGuckian’s subjects may be set in the past, but the themes of moral balance in Blaris Moor resonate with present difficulties and insecurities. Today we bring you a selection from early in the volume:
The Reading Fever
The heart experiences systole,
small controlled doses of forgetfulness.
The intellect performs a full resolution
as though to a light by which
it went on being touched
on the continent’s northern fringe.
The world is like a ring from a spouse
not yet stabilized in glory,
a sacrament performed by an unworthy priest
whose superessential gleam is hidden
in an offering—the sensible, the coastal
grasses still in winter head, the apple.