Gardening, Images, Maps, Metamorphoses, Spinnin' Threads

‘The Philosopher and the Birds’ By Richard Murphy

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In Memory of Wittgenstein at Rosroe

A solitary invalid in a fuchsia garden
Where time’s rain eroded the root since Eden,
He became for a tenebrous epoch the stone.

Here wisdom surrendered the don’s gown
Choosing for Cambridge, two deck chairs,
A kitchen table, undiluted sun.

He clipped with February shears the dead
Metaphysical foliage. Old, in fieldfares
Fantasies rebelled though annihilated.

He was haunted by gulls beyond omega shade,
His nerve tormented by terrified knots
In pin-feathered flesh. But all folly repeats

Is worth one snared robin his fingers untied.
He broke prisons, beginning with words,
And at last tamed, by talking, wild birds.

Through accident of place, now by belief
I follow his love which bird-handled thoughts
To grasp growth’s terror or death’s leaf.

He last on this savage promontory shored
His logical weapon. Genius stirred
A soaring intolerance to teach a blackbird.

So before alpha you may still hear sing
In the leaf-dark dusk some descended young
Who exalt the evening to a wordless song.

His wisdom widens: he becomes worlds
Where thoughts are wings. But at Rosroe hordes
Of village cats have massacred his birds.

(Wittgenstein’s seat is marked by a small plaque in the National Botanic Gardens and generally inhabited by a lazy ginger Tom). The area of Rosroe at Killary Harbour is discussed briefly in the blog under ‘The Brightest Jewel’.

It is a wild and beautiful place, with a hostel (sited now where he had stayed briefly) adorned on it’s periphery by fuchsia hedges and looking onto the small harbour at Killary.

from: Selected Poems by Richard Murphy.

2 Comments

  1. poethead says

    Thanks, the area is incredibly special and I have strong
    links to it. interestingly one might pass by the little
    Wittgenstein Plaques that dot Ireland , unless ye have
    your eyes open.

    The Kick by Murphy is also a good read. My friends grew
    up in the environs mentioned in many of his poems.

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