Image by Munster Literature Centre

Poem introduction

This poem was a commission. The commission was to write a very small poem - six lines - each line to be put onto a giant banner, pulled behind a small plane over the town of Salisbury.

A Smell of Fish

A Smell of Fish

A smell of fish filled the valley
and all the seagulls came inland.

Cats ran everywhere, sniffing.
Men checked the level of the sea.

Some could be heard hammering.
Churches filled to pray for wind.


'A Smell of Fish' from Selected Poems (Cape, 2002), © Matthew Sweeney, 2002, used by permission of the author and The Random House Group Ltd.

Books & cds by Matthew Sweeney