It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'
Alastair Reid

from Inside Out - Selected Poetry and Translations (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2008)

Reproduced by permission of the publisher.
Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid was a poet, essayist, translator and traveller, who was instrumental in bringing the poems of Borges and Neruda into English. ‘What drew me to writing was its portability’, he wrote; ‘it requires essentially no more than a notebook and a pencil, and it allowed me to own my own time, to travel light, to come to rest anywhere...’.

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