Tuesday Poem: P.J. Kavanagh - And Light Fading

It's like a de Chirico drawing.  The sun going,
A boy on a big grey horse with his bare ankles showing,
A little boy below exclaiming at the hunter's huge feet:
Eyes of saffron heifers reflecting yellow light,
Anxious, standing back from the yard gate:
Garish among the ochre fallows
And high bare field with scooped lavender shadows
A green surprising triangle of winter wheat.

The lane winds up and long.  Winter hedgerows
Burn, lemon-green and coral, trap a black bag or sack that blows
Sometimes in a wind above the lane.
Boys and big grey horse and fields and man:
Black plastic like a broken  bird, flapping, cracking:
Coloured lane climbing away, and turning, narrowing, and light fading.

Copyright P.J. Kavanagh
 Collected Poems, Carcanet Press 1995

It could be a picture of an Irish landscape - and indeed there is an Irish poet called Patrick Kavanagh and an Irish film called The Fading Light directed by another Irishman called Kavanagh. 

P.J. Kavanagh was English, but of Irish origin.  He died in 2015.  He was best known to many for his appearance in Father Ted and his moving memoir Perfect Stranger. I love the economy of his poems, where every word counts.  I don't think you need to know the de Chirico drawing to understand this sonnet.  The words are laid on the paper like paint.  There's also that sense of something ominous just out of sight that de Chirico conveys, using space and light and shadow to suggest threat.


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