Seán Street

A Candle for Piers Plowright

The Hunters in the Snow Oil-on-wood, 1565.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

They were skating when the elder Brueghel
sent his men and dogs homeward across snow
and the long evening’s first frail candle
lit a valley window somewhere below
them, the distant glow in the dusk a thrill
of fire beneath the mountain. A known light
hung on darkness, owning the sacred skill
to take thought on to where a prayer might
transcend the loneliest friable gleam,
blaze up into night and set it apart
from other meanings. Or so it would seem
from the spreading scintillas candles start.
A wished-on flame can shape walls’ winter frieze
to benediction. And the hunter sees.

Seán Street has published nine full collections, the latest being Camera Obscura, (Rockingham Press, 2016). Prose includes books on Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Dymock Poets; he has also written extensively on sound aesthetics: works include The Poetry of Radio (Routledge, 2013,)The Memory of Sound (Routledge, 2015.) He recently completed a trilogy on sound for Palgrave: Sound Poetics (2017,)Sound at the Edge of Perception
(2018) and The Sound Inside the Silence (2019.) He is Emeritus Professor at Bournemouth University.