Rediscover: Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon, the Belfast-born poet "who became an immense figure in Irish poetry" with poems such as "A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford" and "Courtyards in Delft," died October 1 at age 78, the Guardian reported. In a poetry career that spanned a half-century, Mahon "was most often compared to W.H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Samuel Beckett, with the critic Brendan Kennelly calling him 'a Belfast Keats with a Popean sting.' " After publishing his book Twelve Poems in 1965, Mahon gained critical acclaim three years later for Night-Crossing. His other works include Lives (1972), The Snow Party (1975), Courtyards in Delft (1981) and Antarctica (1985).

The Guardian noted that a "burst of productivity in the 2000s saw him publish four award-winning collections in five years: Harbour Lights, Somewhere the Wave, Life on Earth and An Autumn Wind," a body of work the Guardian called "one of the most significant developments in poetry this century." Last March, as Ireland locked down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, RTÉ News ended its evening news bulletin with Mahon reading his poem "Everything Is Going to Be All Right," which includes the lines: "There will be dying, there will be dying,/ but there is no need to go into that."

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