Against the Clock review: fizzingly exuberant poems

Derek Mahon’s latest work testifies to the unflagging spirit of a fine poet

Derek Mahon: there is a marked consolatory note in nearly all his latest  poems.

Derek Mahon: there is a marked consolatory note in nearly all his latest poems.

The muse is a capricious drab, fickle in her comings and her goings, but it can be said for her that at least she is not ageist. Derek Mahon in the title poem of his superb, thrilling and fizzingly exuberant new collection draws our attention to the old stagers who gave her the glad eye and were rewarded for their tenacity and presumption. Having mentioned Sophocles, 90 when he wrote Oedipus at Colonus, and Ovid, banished to the Black Sea coast but “who fought on for a reprieve”, Mahon calls out the roll of honour:

“So many exiles! So many reprobates!-

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