Poem introduction

The British Council has supported these recordings as part of the Shakespeare Lives in 2016 programme celebrating the work of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death.

At the Halle

He sat by her side, near the front, sideways on

to the cellos and the second violins

under the gold blazon of the brass section.

He feared she’d see if he risked a sideways glance,

hoping for some imperfection that would mean

he was not so totally outclassed:

her nose slightly too big; the small blemish

on her left cheek (the right as you looked at it)

which you could only see when you enlarged

her image on the computer screen.

Around her eyes, he knew, were thin, tired lines,

and under them were deeper lines: ‘bags’ even

– under the right eye in particular.

He knew that in due course a time would come

when he would take no such satisfaction

in looking for her blemishes and would wonder

if he might have done better for himself.

But it was very far from that time yet,

and he still faced the music, feeling small.

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Recordings

Bernard O'Donoghue Downloads

1The Iron Age Boat at Caumatruish

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2Ter Conatus

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3Westering Home

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4The Day I Outlived My Father

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5O'Reagan The Amateur Anatomist

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6In Millstreet Hospital

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7Alzheimer Fruit

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8A Candle for Dolly Duggan

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9A Nun Takes the Veil

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10Nel Mezzo del Cammin

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11Vanellus Vanellus

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12Munster Final

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13The Nuthatch

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14The State of the Nation

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15Metamorphosis

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16Christmas

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17The Fool in the Graveyard

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18Going Without Saying

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19Aine

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20Vanishing Points

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21History

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22The Definition of Love

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23The Faultline

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24Emigration

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25The Quiet Man

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26Tinkers

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27The Years Midnight

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28The Weakness

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29The Uvular 'r'

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30Crumpsall

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31Bona-Fide Travellers

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32The Cannon

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33Pencil It In

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34Farmers Cross

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35Nechtan

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36Two Fiddlers at Scullys

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37No More Bother to Him

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Books by Bernard O'Donoghue