Poetry – Edward Clarke | Cassandra Voices

Poetry – Edward Clarke



One morning during the first week of Advent,
_                                   When I was possessed,
After a birthday’s dark exhilarations,
_          By a terrible kind of nervousness,
We saw, on stage, the judgement of our son,
Before his class, the Egyptian pantheon.

I was chosen, he said, to be mummified today:
_                                    My life was cut short
While I was out in my papyrus boat,
_            Hunting hippos (a dangerous sport).
Then they took the brains out of this son of ours,
And placed his viscera, like pasta, in cardboard jars.

As in the womb of Advent, I’d put myself
_                                   In that small space
In which they shut him, cured and bandaged up,
_            And pray to God I feel the grace
Of Christmas, afloat inside its heavily
Expectant bustle, remote as a vessel at sea.

And what strange afterlife shall I find there,
_                                   On stage, when they lead
Me out, to weigh my heart against its feather?
_           Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid
In this book’s manger, roughly I perceive
Angels, livestock, and men, the gifts you’ll leave.


Image: Lighting of O’Connell Street Christmas Tree, Garda Band (1988), Dublin City Library And Archive.


About Author

Edward Clarke’s Eighteen Psalms was published by Periplum Poetry in 2018. Clarke’s Psalter, a documentary he presented about making these poems, was broadcast on BBC, Radio 4 in September 2018. He is also the author of two books of criticism, The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry (Iff Books 2014), which makes claims for the efficacy of poetry in our industrialized world, where we are presented with environmental, political and economic challenges, and The Later Affluence of W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). He has an MA (Oxon) in English Language and Literature and was awarded a PhD by Trinity College, Dublin, for his work on the American poet, Wallace Stevens, in relation to Shakespeare, Milton, and various Romantic poets. He currently teaches English literature and art and architectural history at Oxford University.

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