It’s quite evident that I like Ian Duhig, having shared three of his poems before – ‘Use Complete Sentences’, Civilization and Nothing Pie – the latter with a tenuous theme of language or colloquialisms. The poem I’m sharing today shares that theme.
I borrowed some of his earlier work from the library. So far I’ve just read the one old collection – The Bradford Count. Duhig’s parents were Irish but he now lives in Yorkshire, so the Bradford of the title does indeed refer to the Bradford I live in. The “Bradford Count” is actually a measure of the number of hanks of yarn that could be spin from a fleece – Bradford used to be a mill town, and in the 19th Century was known as the wool capital of the world.
I have to say I found the collection quite impenetrable. It references a lot of history that I’m not aware of, with big words and names that don’t mean anything to me. Sadly I can’t really be bothered (today at least) to look up the meanings and back stories to access what he’s talking about.
From the Irish
According to Dineen, a Gael unsurpassed
in lexicographical enterprise, the Irish
for moon means ‘the white circle in a slice
of half-boiled potato or turnip’. A star
is the mark on the forehead of a beast
and the sun is the bottom of a lake, or well.
Well, if I say to you your face
is like a slice of half-boiled turnip,
your hair is the colour of a lake’s bottom
and at the centre of each of your eyes
is the mark of the beast, it is because
I want to love you properly, according to Dineen.