Noel Duffy

Cadmus

He looks adrift standing there 
beneath the glass and concrete 
of the university Arts Block building, dressed 

in sloppy collegiate tweed, his hair 
grey and unkempt. His fingers grip 
a plastic spoon as he works the tea-bag 

hard against the side of the cup, mumbling 
to himself in some forgotten tongue, 
the chanting rise and fall of the line,

a fragment, perhaps, from Homeric Greek,
Odysseus becalmed on a windless night
counting the stars in the shifting light…

Tea made, the old man turns and pushes past 
a sharp-tongued student holding court 
on Derrida and the deconstruction of art,

then stuffing his papers under his arm 
he shuffles into the sudden crowd,
Cadmus lost in the kingdom of the mad

invoking the syllables of his forgotten world.

Noel Duffy studied experimental physics at Trinity College, Dublin, before turning his hand to writing. He co-edited (with Theo Dorgan) Watching the River Flow: A Century in Irish Poetry (Poetry Ireland/Poetry Society, 1999). His collection In the Library of Lost Objects was published by Ward Wood, London, in summer 2011 and was shortlisted for the Strong Award for best debut by an Irish poet.

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