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All Posts By David Selzer

THE NAKBA

‘…mourning and sorrow shall end,
when I return to Jerusalem…’

Mediaeval Jewish Prayer

 

‘We suffer from an incurable malady: Hope.’

Mahmoud Darwish

 

On a land mass that is the size of landlocked

Rutland, the smallest county in England,

Gaza, the Earth’s third most populated

polity, has two small rivers  and a hill.

Its city, four thousand years ago,

was the site of a Pharaonic fortress.

 

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THE SKY ABOVE

From the kitchen door of the holiday let,

down the hill, over roof tops, on a clear day,

are the summits of the mainland’s mountains;

from the front door the gaol’s stone grey massif;

above the cottage’s small courtyard,

where the privy was and now are festive lights

and a hot tub burbling, is a square of sky.

 

Around the corner in Steeple Lane

high in the prison wall is a door,

with rivets either side to hold the scaffold

when it was needed.

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ON LITTLE EYE

Only the highest tides reach this small island’s

sandstone rocks. A collar of flaxen sand

surrounds it. A quarter of a mile north

is Middle Eye. A hundred yards further

is Hilbre, habitation of hermits,

custom’s officers, weather stations.

These three are rugged, stony outcrops

in the mouth of the estuary.

 

Leaving West Kirby’s suburban promenade,

we had walked, at low water, to Little Eye

across the Dee’s hard, striated sands.

Westward is Wales, and the redundant lighthouse

at Point of Ayr,

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FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF HISTORY

My granddaughter and I paused before Turner’s

‘War: the Exile and the Rock Limpet’

in the collection of the artist’s work

at Tate Britain, Millbank, beside the Thames.

The exile is Napoleon Bonaparte

on St Helena. He stands – in signature

outfit including the hat – arms folded,

contemplating obscure life in a rock pool.

A guard, musket shouldered, stands some paces off.

The sun rises or sets on a swirling, volcanic coast.

‘Was Napoleon really that tall?’ she asked.

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BLOOMSBURY

‘O, there you are,’ Mr Bloom said, turning from the fire.

ULYSSES, James Joyce

 

Joyce read his poems to Lady Gregory

in Dublin. She was impressed and gave him five pounds

to help fund his escape to Paris

from the ‘coherent absurdity’ (his words)

of Catholicism. She wrote to Yeats –

her close friend and patronee, who had lodgings

a five minute walk from Euston – to meet him

off the Holyhead train at six a.m.,

give him breakfast,

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OTHER PEOPLE’S FLOWERS: ‘Twelve Poems’ by Clive Watkins

David Selzer and I first got to know each other in 1965 through the University of Liverpool Poetry Society. Under David’s energetic leadership, in 1966 the Society brought a young Seamus Heaney and a young Michael Longley from Northern Ireland to read to us. This was some months before Seamus Heaney’s first collection, Death of a Naturalist, appeared from Faber, and at this point Michael Longley had published no more than a single pamphlet. Neither had read outside Northern Ireland. The third of the notable young Northern Irish poets to emerge during those years, Derek Mahon,

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