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A Seagull in Ireland

I am behind you on the mainland, leaning
on your shoulder and pointing with one arm
in front of your face at weightless cinders
which are ravens blustering above the island.

Boulder clay on the outcrops, and beaches
dotted and dashed with coal dust. Guillemots
whitening the cliff face. Small orchids definitely
still evolving in a downpour of Arctic sunlight.

How many years are there left to cross over
and show you things themselves, not my idea
of things? Thirty, if I live to the age of my father.
I cannot explain why I have left it as late as this.

Your black hair blows into my eyes but I can see
everything moving fast now. Weather polishes
the silver fields ahead; the ravens swoop down
and settle among the gorgeous pages of the gospels.


“Holy Island” by Andrew Motion. You can find it in Andrew Motion Selected Poems, 1976-1997.

Why don’t people read poetry anymore? 

“History has sped up in the last generation, and that is antithetical to poetry. What a poem does, what a lyric poem does, is stop the clock and say we’re going to examine this moment. Shh! Stop the clock. And people are too hyper for that now. They don’t like to stop the clock. The clock is running too fast for them. And also, a huge part of poetry is self-communion. When you read a poem, you’re communing with yourself in a deep way. People don’t like that. Why do you think they’re on their phones all the time? They don’t like being alone. They’re like children; they get all frantic if they’re alone, they feel lost. So people go around mumbling to their associates. They have that wire. You see them mumbling. And it’s not an introspective culture. They talk about dumbing down, but there’s also such a thing as numbing down. They don’t want to be sensitive.”

– Martin Amis, from a recent interview in the Spectator.

The photograph was taken at a pier in Lahinch, Ireland.