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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ethna MacCarthy, Poet

Beckett fact no. 97.

By way of a footnote to my discussion of Lyle Donaghy, I might also mention Ethna MacCarthy, whose name came up a few times in the discussion that followed my paper (and that of Graley Herron) the other day. Her part in inspiring Krapp’s Last Tape has long been known, not to mention her appearance as the Alba in Beckett’s earlier fiction. But the woman herself has also remain more than a little elusive. How serendipitous then, in thumbing through an Irish Times publication of 1944, Poems from Ireland, which includes Donaghy’s work, to find two poems by her, ‘Requiem’ and ‘Harlequin’. She has published poems, her contributor’s note tells us, in Hermathena, the Dublin Magazine, and the Farmer’s Gazette. Here is ‘Harlequin’:

My love is of the moon –
pale sequin and velvet cratered depths,
pure light and softest shaggy dark.
Like her he seeks the sun for warmth
to ramble the livid streets from dusk
and barter his tranquillity for tears,
and never knows how good he is
or tired, but fights the sordid strident day
till like a child he rests a little in my arms.
And then the fearful maturation of the light
lifts at his languid head. And so he goes,
to skim the scattered sequins from the pools.

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