Searching for Dennis O’Driscoll

by Thomas McCarthy

The howling November wind, that chill Taxing Master, stiffens
Entire buildings in the Castle yard. As we grow older
We also stiffen a little more as if preparing for a wind
That will finally test what we are made of. No colder
Wind than the wind that blows across cobbles, no sense
In hanging around on Dublin stones: his death is a year older

And yet it is no wiser. His life was an umbrella forced open
In a flapping squall from the East Wall. No one answers
To the squawking numbers. The hatstand inside is empty
And the poet has gone, except for these words on stone stairs
Words echoing in the wind, words that make books seem putupon
And savagely abandoned. A language has died in poetry,

A chiselling language clockedout for the last time;
But the words that were made from cobblestones
May be carried over in translations of rain:
Rain and gulls, vanilla documents and fugitive rhyme
For with the dead all translators are not the same,
The distinctive dead need our confirmation, a firm sign

That everything useful can be built again with broken stones.
Here is shelter. Here are some of the best Dublin statements
What are the stars? We can’t carry on but we must,
Or ‘proclaim their era at an end.’ We pick over the bones
Of a draft directive, we protect the briefing documents
In heavy rain.’ We pray that cobbles may be more than dust.