March 17, 2009

Returns to the Island of the Dead

Another year of memory, to the time now dead but forever, it seems, a page to be marked and revised. A galley of promise.

To be dead is to stop believing in
The masterpieces we will begin tomorrow;
To be an exile is to be a coward,
To know that growth has stopped,
That whatever is done is the end;

Correct the proofs over and over,
Rewrite all the old poems again and again,
Tell lies to yourself about your achievement:
Ten printed books on the shelves.
Though you know that no one loves you for
What you have done,
But for what you might do.

And you perhaps take up religion bitterly
Which you laughed at in your youth,
Well not actually laughed
But it wasn't your kind of truth.

--Patrick Kavanagh, "To be Dead"