All the Barbaric Glass by David Butler

Our writers give voice to what it means to be Irish in a changing Ireland.

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Controlled and affecting, these poems reassure us, ‘This is how it is to live’.

— Breda Wall Ryan

2017 / 72 pages / €10 (marked down from €12)
Cover art: David Lee

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All the Barbaric Glass

All the Barbaric Glass

By David Butler

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DAVID BUTLER is a novelist, poet and playwright. The most recent of his three published novels, City of Dis (New Island), was shortlisted for the 2015 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. Doghouse Books brought out his first poetry collection, Via Crucis, in 2011, while a short-story collection, No Greater Love, was published in London by Ward Wood in 2013. In 2016 David received a Per Cent Literary Arts Commission to compose a poetry sequence for Blackrock Library. Literary prizes include the Fish International Award for the short story, the SCDA, Cork Arts Theatre and British Theatre Challenge for drama, and the Féile Filíochta, Ted McNulty and Brendan Kennelly awards for poetry. David lives in Bray with wife and fellow author, Tanya Farrelly.



All night the tide, engorged, has charged,
foamed, bellowed, pawed at the shingle.
Morning has tamed it. The moon-faced girl
who plays amidst the detritus has
quite forgotten her terror now.

Idly she lines up shell and fragment
in the wrack. The sea is watching.

Could she read these runes, might she
thread through their maze the mounting
wave and undertow; the bestial swell
of obsession; the monstrous birth;
the black sail that drowns a father?


What unsigned city is it that you wake in,
featureless, or with such altered feature
the streets are not familiar, or if, with
shifting familiarity, like the dreamscapes
you wake from? What day is it, the moving ridge
hammered flat that separates past from future
so all is present tense, a watery time
in which the hours gradually dissolve?

How is it that memory, once so sharp,
has lost its stylus, and slides across the surface
leaving no impression but vague anxiety
that something isn’t right? And who are we
who have come to ask you? Forgive us
this daily trespass through your threadless maze.