Sean O’Brien


Griffin Poetry Prize 2012
International Shortlist

Book: November

Poet: Sean O’Brien

Publisher: Picador

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Sean O’Brien reads Europeans


Now we are in Europe let us take
To selling mushrooms by the roadside,
Broad-brimmed platefuls and uniform buttons
Plucked before dawn in the forest of birch,
The dank delicious one-legged flesh
Climbing from grave-pits as big and as deep
As the forest themselves, for it does not
Take long to establish the custom, not long
To forget the beginning, to hold up
A bucket or basket of mushrooms
And talk about always and offer a shrug
That proves our knowledge and our ignorance
Identical, proverbial, entirely
Beyond the scope of history or law,
And since we have always been here
On our fold-away chairs near the crossroads,
Hunched in black overcoats, pale as our produce,
Seeking and selling the flesh of the earth
By the handful and kilo in brown paper bags,
We cannot be other than real.

From November, by Sean O’Brien
© Sean O’Brien 2011

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