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Whisper, immortal Muse . . .

The Dream of Human Life (artist unknown, ca. 1533). National Gallery, London.


“Better a quiet life, the moon in a bucket of water

With nobody there to hear though the stars do

And a bedside book like the teachings of Chuang Tzu” —Derek Mahon, “The World of J. G. Farrell”


I once had a glass or two of wine with J. G. Farrell

(I know it’s dropping names, but what the hell!)

The best novelist you’ve probably never heard of.

“Who would you like to meet in London?” my friend and agent Lavinia (not Lavinia Greacen)* said

(she meant, of course, in London’s literary world).

There on a visit from California, I hesitated, and she suggested Jim.

Later, alas, he was swept from a rock fishing by the sea in Ireland and drowned.

I can't recall what we talked about—

it was forty-four years ago.


Now I’ve come across this poem by Derek Mahon,

The best poet of whom you’ve probably never heard!

Whisper, immortal Muse . . . No


*Lavinia Graecen, J. G. Farrell: The Making of a Writer (London: Bloomsbury, 1999).

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