The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 4 no. 1


Thomas Kinsella



Neither is simple
and neither is handed down.

Either persisted in without change
grows ridiculous

and either at any time
may fail.

If it fail in part
it is made good only in part

and if it come to final failure
accept—but prepare for a difficult widow:

that fig-bodied stone devil
on your sanctuary wall

gross mouth open
to all comers

or, as I remember,
a still youthful witch

moving off sick to death
among the graves and the old men

in sharp argument with her pale son,
he muttering in sharp answer,

deadly familiar,
so unlike.


There is no mantle
and it does not descend.



© Thomas Kinsella, from Songs of the Psyche
(Dublin: Peppercanister 9, 1985)