Poem of the Week: Beautiful Day at Birkenau

A new poem by Anne Haverty

Anne Haverty. Photograph: Lilliput Press

Even then,
Surely even then,
There must have been
Days at Birkenau
As beautiful
As this.

And even then,
On such a day,
It was surely inevitable
That you
Could sense again,
Just for a moment,
The clemency
Of things.

Beyond the watch-tower
And the black-fanged fence
In the sunlit grass, in the sun
Hazy over a wood,
Its leaves
Painted that October red
You remember
From the Matisse print
Eva brought home
That time
From Paris.
Some clemency even
In the church spire that rises
Beyond the wood.

And when the vixen
Paused to scratch her ear
And met your eye
For a moment
Before loping away
Across the basking plain
After a hen or a hare,
You saw
The freedom
And the rightness
Of an animal's stride.


But then the daily
Grips you again.
Is no clemency.
No clemency
In humankind.

Today's poem is from Anne's Haverty forthcoming collection, A Break in the Journey. A new edition of her biography Constance Markievicz: Irish Revolutionary is published by Lilliput