AUGUSTUS YOUNG        light verse, poetry and prose

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A Single Skuller

Living Skin

The Final Whistle


The Island

from Rosemaries



My Dominant Characteristic

Life as a Serious Person

The Little Talker

For George Mackay Brown, 1975

1.    The Inhabitants

The few cottages
still with roofs lie low
below sea-level

the old schoolmaster
and the ex-postman
pass the summer months

and sometimes of late
the odd artist breaks
the monotony

and from time to time
from the mainland comes
a man to count sheep

carcasses on the cliff
to mend the damage
to his lobster-pots

and with local chat
it takes hours to catch
up with the gossip.

2.    Ghosts

The grass grown over
the fading goat-tracks
I am reminded

that between the rocks
and the people there
was never much room

to move so narrow
these pathways where always
the island women

on the Dingle road
(not so long ago)
walked in single file.

3.    Children in the City

The life there smaller
in comparison with
what they don’t know now

on the horizon
aerial washing
soiled by the trains

said to have their pride
not without reason
though always kind to

strangers behind backs
people talk gnawing minds
touchy and dangerous

in this half-city

not to soil their hands -

only off-duty
gardai in shirtsleeves
garden the outskirts.

4.    Manuscript Sources

A natural landscape
to illuminate
great events gospels

the eggs of sea-birds
to bring out the light
and salt to keep in

a neat hand to let
the eels and cats in
and a patchwork hen

details sly
as the whitehaired saint
with a mayflower face

sitting on a dry-
stone wall in each crack
a fly hides the ocean.

5.    King of Gola Island

At the highest point
an oblong stone
satisfies the gods

and a long-backed man
extends seawards
early morning eyes

a mile out to sea
crags surfacing
throw up phantom fogs

beyond, horizons
round themselves off
and five herons rise.