Wine and literature: Paul Farley’s “From a Weekend First”

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Nestled in the multi-award-winning poetry of Paul Farley is a gem called “From a Weekend First”, published in his 2002 collection “The Ice Age”.

The poem references red burgundy and pinot noir to – I think – comic effect, though the overall tone is lugubrious.

The dactyl of “burgundy” and the anapest of “pinot noir” lend themselves to poetry.

Many of us aspire to “pinot noir on expenses”… Oh the joys of academia!

From a Weekend First

One for the money. Arrangements in green and grey
from the window of an empty dining-car.
No takers for this Burgundy today
apart from me. I’ll raise a weighted stem
to my homeland scattering by, be grateful for
these easy-on-the-eye, Army & Navy
surplus camouflage colours that seem
to mask all trace of life and industry;

a draft for the hidden dead, our forefathers,
the landfills of the mind where they turned in
with the plush and orange peel of yesteryear,
used up and entertained and put to bed
at last; to this view where everything seems to turn
on the middle distance. Crematoria, multiplex
way stations in the form of big sheds
that house their promises of goods and sex;

to the promise of a university town,
its spires and playing fields. No border guards
will board at this station, no shakedown
relieve me of papers or contraband:
this is England. Nobody will pull the cord
on these thoughts, though the cutlery and glasses
set for dinner are tinkling at a bend,
a carriage full of ghosts taking their places.

Now drink to slow outskirts, the colour wheels
of fifty years collected in windows;
to worlds of interiors, to credit deals
with nothing to pay until next year, postcodes
where water hardens, then softens, where rows
of streetlights become the dominant motif
as day drains, and I see myself transposed
into the dark, lifting my glass. Belief

is one thing, though the dead have none of it.
What would they make of me? This pinot noir
on my expenses, time enough to write
this on a Virgin antimacassar—
the miles of feint, the months of Sunday school,
the gallons of free milk, all led to here:
an empty dining-car, a single fool
reflected endlessly on the night air.

 

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