Staggering ashore, on Prospero’s island,
Making a landfall, in Twelfth Night,
Illyria, or the coast of Ireland –
Caught, I would be indicted,
So, as usual, the disguise
Before striking inland.
But how will I be recognised
And who will understand
That I am brother to my sister,
Son, or rightful heir?
Malvolio, the ill-wisher,
Lurks under every stair,
And Caliban, in the marram grass
Of Booterstown sloblands
Sticks in the mud of drunkenness,
Old stay-at-home, old rainy-day friend.
Minor angels, minor demons
Whizz like irritants round my ears –
Voices, the shadows of peers,
The images of women
Coming near, unclasping hooks
In bedrooms, keeping the tragic
At bay; and the drowned books
Rising, to work hidden magic
On whatever isle this be.
I start to recognise the place –
Pigeon House, the Irish Sea,
Foghorns, an industrial haze,
And then, the mythic hinterland
Where fathers and daughters
Say goodbye, and the husband
Walks on charmed waters
To the marriage. Years before,
I had lost my home here, found a wife
Sequestered, where I swam ashore
From the old, shipwrecked life.
Send Letters To:
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
Please include name, address, and a telephone number.