On the Impossibility of Staying Alive

Posted: February 25, 2015 in graffiti living
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Ian McMillan in a Yorkshire poet from Barnsley. I’m from West Yorkshire and Ian was, along with Ted Hughes, one of the first poets that taught me that it’s ok to write in your own tongue. This is one of my top ten favourite poems, and my favourite poem by him.

On the Impossibility of Staying Alive

They have found a new moon;
it stands on my shoulder.
They call it moon because
they lack imagination.
I call it moon because
I lack all conviction.

It has another name,
but that name, like God’s
is terrible to pronounce.
It is terrible to pronounce
like Czrcbrno, a hamlet
in the Balkans. The moon
calls itself moon because
it lacks self-knowledge.

This moon sometimes whispers
and you never heard such rubbish.
I listen because I lack strength,
I smile because I have no muscles
with which to frown. At certain times
of the day, the moon hides.

When I am an old man
with flour in my beard, and
packs of incontinence pants
on the sideboard, the moon
will still be new, and will be
perpetually discovered as new
by generations of scientists.
The moon is not a nice man.

Ian McMillan, from Selected Poems

  1. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for sharing! So enjoyed that.

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