Soft butterflies of night, I’ve learned of late
to share the bedroom with you and react
with terror only to the smeared glaze
you mutate into when, so unmajestical,
you’re offered any show of violence. 
What made us shudder, I see now, was your
sheer vulnerability: the threat
your frailty posed by demonstrating
our species’ programmed disposition 
to kill anything that can’t resist us  
or fight back: to concede existence only
to creatures which are strong. You are so near
the end of the fly-by-night continuum
of strength and wealth and contest in the world.



Bernard O’Donoghue

Bernard O’Donoghue was born in County Cork in 1945 and he still lives there for part of the year. He has been based in Oxford since 1965, and he has recently retired as Fellow in English at Wadham College there. He has published on medieval poetry and on modern Irish poetry, especially Seamus Heaney. He has published six volumes of poems, the most recent Farmers Cross (Faber 2011). His Selected Poems was published by Faber in 2008, and he won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry for Gunpowder in 1995.