Selected Poems

About this Book

A selection of poems from Skinner’s first six books.

“If you want to know how real poetry reads, buy this book, read it, and keep it.”
-Leonard Blackstone

Aquila Press, 1985
paper  €6.00  $7.95

Selected Poems

Read a poem from this book

Rice, Mayor of Waterford

In the city of Waterford
a fifteenth-century mayor,
prosperous at the fairs
and many times re-elected,
began to fear for the people.

After I am destroyed
no one will think, thought Rice,
that I, so often mayor,
was an ordinary body.
And my fellow-citizens,
even these, who bestow the office
year after year–
so complete is their trust in me–
must think me superhuman.

So greatly Rice feared
for the souls of his neighbours
when they asked his advice
on a cart wheel or a heifer,
or sought out his opinion
on guarding the Waterford coast
(and himself only their mayor)
that he wrote a strange will.

A fortnight from his decease,
according to instructions,
the people of Waterford
broke open his grave,
prominent in the cathedral.
Still standing there today
a finely carved tomb
commemorates Rice–
an old body, naked,
already decaying,
hungry vermin crawling
in and out of the ribs–
as he was last witnessed
by the clergy and laymen
whom he had served as mayor.