Thursday Nov 30

DunnDouglas Douglas Dunn has taught at the University of St Andrews in Scotland since 1989, has been a Professor of English since 1991, and was a founding Director of the St Andrews Scottish Studies Centre since 1993. He founded the School's MLitt in Creative Writing in 1993. He has published many volumes of poetry, two collections of stories, and four edited books. These volumes include Elegies (London: Faber, 1985), Northlight (London: Faber, 1988), New Selected Poems: 1964-1999 (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), Boyfriends and Girlfriends (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), and The Donkey's Ears (London: Faber and Faber, 2000).  His work has been translated into multiple languages. Douglas has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1981, and was awarded the O.B.E. in 2003. Elegies was Whitbread Book of the Year in 1985, and he has also won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, a Cholmondeley Award, and several Scottish Arts Council Publication Awards.

The Nothing-But
“He was beginning to live in the region of truth.”
—Graham Greene, The Honorary Consul

Slowly the truth dawns, the nothing-butness of it,
The fly in the dram, the flea in your ear,
Just-cleaned window now smeared with dove-shit,
Confidence that turns into abject fear,
The niggle, the virtuous irritant,
A taste like garlic, chillies, or mint.
To have kissed the lips of one who was dying
Is to have tasted silence, salt, and wilderness,
And touched the truth, the desert where there is no lying,
Only that kiss and the keeping of its promise.
Who lives there, in that land of the utter truth?
Is it one of the delusions of youth,
Or the delusions of age and adulthood?
Well, I don’t know.  Only the truth will do,
I suppose, not would, or should, or could,
But what was, and is.  Is it the same for you?
As the witty French say, ‘reconstruct your virginity’,
In search of beginnings and tranquillity.