Michael Donaghy's 'The Hunter's Purse'

Episode of: The Essay

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Sep 25, 201713m
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Michael Donaghy's 'The Hunter's Purse'
Sep 25 '1713m
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Don Paterson is an award-winning poet, editor and teacher, but for all his technical ability and the recognition that has been paid to his work Paterson is acutely aware of awe and sometimes envy when he looks at the work of other writers. Here he applies his wit and skills of technical analysis to discussing the five poems he wishes he had written. Tonight, Michael Donaghy 'The Hunter's Purse'. The Hunter's Purse is the last unshattered 78 by 'Patrolman Jack O'Ryan, violin', a Sligo fiddler in dry America. A legend, he played Manhattan's ceilidhs, fell asleep drunk one snowy Christmas on a Central Park bench and froze solid. They shipped his corpse home, like his records. This record's record is its lunar surface. I wouldn't risk my stylus to this gouge, or this crater left by a flick of ash - When Anne Quinn got hold of it back in Kilrush, she took her fiddle to her shoulder and cranked the new Horn of Plenty Victrola over and over and over, and scratched along until she had it right or until her father shouted 'We'll have no more Of that tune In this house tonight'. She slipped out back and strapped the contraption to the parcel rack and rode her bike to a far field, by moonlight. It skips. The penny I used for ballast slips. O'Ryan's fiddle pops, and hiccoughs back to this, back to this, back to this: a napping snowman with a fiddlecase; a flask of bootleg under his belt; three stars; a gramophone on a pushbike; a cigarette's glow from a far field; over and over, three bars in common time.

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