Week 469: Anniversaries, by Douglas Dunn

This week another poem from Douglas Dunn’s 1985 volume ‘Elegies’, written in memory of his first wife who died young. It is a collection that I find intensely moving, and also very skilful: I love the lilting movement of poems like this.

Note on the last verse: the beautifully precise word ‘longanimous’ means ‘patient with a suggestion of long-suffering’ – I believe Dunn was a goodish club-level runner in his younger days, so I take it the image here is one of his wife coming along even in the rain to cheer him on.

Roukenglen, Kelvingrove and Inchinnan are names associated with the Glasgow area of Renfrewshire.


Day by nomadic day
Our anniversaries go by,
Dates anchored in an inner sky,
To utmost ground, interior clay.

It was September blue
When I walked with you first, my love,
In Roukenglen and Kelvingrove,
Inchinnan’s beech-wood avenue.

That day will still exist
Long after I have joined you where
Rings radiate the dusty air
And bangles bind each powdered wrist.

Here comes that day again.
What shall I do? Instruct me, dear,
Longanimous encourager,
Sweet soul in the athletic rain
And wife now to the weather.

Douglas Dunn


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