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Beyond Decoration

Beyond Decoration

Stalled, in the middle of a rented room,
The couple who own it quarrelling in the yard
Outside, about which shade of Snowcem
They should use. (From the bed I'd heard
Her say she liked me in my dressing-gown
And heard her husband's grunt of irritation.
Some ladies like sad men who are alone.)
But I am stalled, and sad is not the word.
Go out I cannot, nor can I stay in,
Becalmed mid carpet, breathless, on the road
To nowhere and the road has petered out.
This was twenty years ago, and bad as that.
I must have moved at last, for I knelt down,
Which I had not done before, nor thought I should.
It would not be exact to say I prayed;
What for? The one I wanted there was dead.
All I could do was kneel and so I did.
At once I entered dark so vast and warm
I wondered it could fit inside the room
When I looked round. The road I had to walk down
Was still there. From that moment it was mean
Beyond my strength to doubt what I had seen:
A heat at the heart of dark, so plainly shown,
A bowl, of two cupped hands, in which a pain
That filled a room could be engulfed and drown
And yet, for truth is in the bowl, remain...
Today I thought it time to write this down,
Beyond decoration, humble, in plain rhyme,
As clear as I could, and as truthful, which I have done.


from Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2001), copyright © Patrick Kavanagh 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Recordings

P J Kavanagh Reading from his poems

1Dedication Poem

2Yeats's Tower

3The Spring

4On The Way to the Depot

5Perfection Isn't Like a Perfect Story

6One

7November the First

8The Clapham Elephants

9Dome

10A Single Tree

11Gardening

12Beyond Decoration

13Late Acknowledgement

14One Sentence, and Another

15A Ghost Replies

16They Lift Their Heads

17Minimal Prayer Suggestion

18Natural History

19Resistance

20ITMA

21In the Middle of the Wood

22Message

23Beside the Sea

24Slow as Grass

25Whitsun

26Vox Pop

27Dawns

28Thanks

29Something About

Books & cds by PJ Kavanagh