Yet Once More, poems by Daniel Wade
Daniel Wade is a 25-year-old poet and author from the Republic of Ireland. He is a graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, where he studied English and Journalism. His poetry has been published in Optic, Limerick Revival, Wordlegs (e-publication), The Stony Thursday Book (ed. Paddy Bushe), HeadSpace Magazine, the Seven Towers 2014 Census, the Bray Arts Journal, The Sea (charity anthology in aid of the RNLI), Sixteen Magazine (e-publication), The Bogman’s Cannon, Iodine Poetry Journal, Zymbol, The Runt, Headstuff, The Fredricksburg Literary Review, The Lonely Crowd, A New Ulster, FLARE Magazine and the Hennessey New Irish Writers’ page of the Irish Times.
He has also featured as a guest on Dublin South FM’s Rhyme and Reason poetry program, as well as on Near FM’s Writer’s Block. In June 2015, his radio drama, ‘The Outer Darkness’, was broadcast on Dublin South FM. A prolific performer, he has also read his work at various festivals, including the Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Noeliefest and the West Belfast Festival. In March 2016, ‘The Collector’, his first stage play is due to be staged at the New Theatre in Dublin in January of next year.
His website is http://danielwadeauthor.com/.
Hear the rumours spread like a forest fire –
Their heat building slowly to a louder pitch
A fortissmo of hearsay, strained by repetition:
Giants ruled the arc rocks of Patagonia,
The skeletons of a riveter and his apprentice
Were discovered entombed
In the Great Eastern’s double-seal hull,
Or else in Hoover Dam’s cement mass,
Depending on which source you read.
The best I’ve heard is this: when the Titanic struck
The iceberg, passengers on the lower deck reported
Looking up and seeing the figures of five people
Standing amid the pale crags, three men and two
Women, looking down on the ship as it passed.
They seemed to be wearing bulky caribou parkas,
Common among the Inuits. To the berg’s far end,
A seal was seen flopping about in the water
As the hull scraped along the ice, agitated
By the loud displacement. The ship’s lights
Supposedly showed the people on the berg
Smiling malevolently, as hull and ridge collided.
In the dream you are back in the crows nest,
The moon flickering like a warped incisor
On the glassy surface. The berg coasts nearer,
Swelling into view like a devastating secret,
Its peaks and shelves soaked in blood,
The low growl of its drift goring your ears.
Embedded on one its chalky pinnacles,
Tall as a minaret, is a cross, with a man’s body,
Gaunt, blood-smeared, a still-breathing figurehead,
Lashed to its beams. You hear the waves’ loud
Hiss breaking off the foot of the ice. The crucified
Man howls out in despair, as cross and berg burst
Into flames. The blaze claws at the canopy
Of the sky; its glare engulfing the entire sea.
There is neither hearth nor a place to find rest.
The hull plunges mouth-first to a lower gorge
Out of the sea level’s reach, its funnel’s roar
Smoked and overcome by the distress of flares.
On this field of ice, your breath’s pewter curl
Mists my eye, like soft exhaust from a boiler.
On this, our very own glacial ark, soon to melt
Forever into the black main, our tongues
Are just below freezing, despite the thickness
Of our parkas. The pained choir steadily
Concludes its lament below us in the water,
Bobbing, ruin-still, swallowed into silence.
Yet Once More
i.m. Derek Walcott (1930-2017)
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more*
praise Castries, and leave no pentameter –
like the fishing gear left overnight
on the wharf, their usefulness
has not died with you.
Yet once more, shouldered on darkness
and moonlight, the islet stirs
with the imminence of dusk,
her rainforest flush with dew –
yet once more, fireflies spark cypresses,
their rosy vigil shushed
by Spanish moss and musk
of sulphur from the caldera:
yet once more mourners, sworn to a silence
from across continents, scowl
at the hoof-clop of a heat-charged horse.
All of my heroes are either dead,
dying, or engulfed by history,
and yet once more, the wind stirs a hymn
and each wave grumbles a knell,
the benediction of candles to curl
beyond the breadfruit.
Yet once more the testament of archipelagoes
can’t hold back cypress leaf or river-spasm.
No cloud smudges the sky;
early sunrays roast the earth,
the coral, the oceanic necropolis
of jetsam and frothy surf back to suds,
the vestment of fog back to belief
in your name, and its carved worth.
Yet once more, that stroke of light
is a flash in the shade of horizon.
Egrets take milk-winged flight
across the azure cove where
the crew of a lone fishing ketch
take in sail like a shroud,
and the casuarina leaves,
murmuring and bowed
in awe of your departure,
now turn to wilt and sigh
at the wind’s salt-laced touch.
Yet once more, the cortege of skiffs
will cast off soon. Your story,
a cheerless saga, comes slowly
together in newspaper clippings,
sonnets, the diligently-rhymed epic,
in the Caribbean you worshipped,
morsels of her bounty devotedly
reaped in net, in cupped palm,
in her beach-stones that lie solid
and pure as ‘amen’, in her missal
of surf, bloody milk of a girl’s sun-
seared cheek, her requiem subdued
in the high hush of the Pitons’ belfry.
And yet once more, swaying your rest,
the absolution of rain neither regrets
nor rewards the dead, who outnumber
all who offer paltry remembrance, such as this.
The sea stays calm, unmoved and somber
in its ferment, abiding as your words.
*The first line is an extract from the poem ‘Lycidas’ by John Milton.
© Daniel Wade