Reliquary

Simon Armitage

Summer 2018

After the Friday market on the wharf,
dark-eyed peasant women from the east
go down on their hands and knees
with knitting needles and bird-bill pliers,
gleaning the quayside, flossing between cobbles

for dropped coins, lost keys and the like.
Whatever they winkle out that isn’t currency
they sell as trinkets and charms,
spread them out on colorful headscarves and shawls
along pavements and walls.

A rough translation: “Things that fell
from the pockets of Christ.” Meaning hairpins,
buttons, a plastic spoon, a baby’s tooth,

Simon Armitage lives in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and is professor of poetry at the University of Leeds. His most recent collection is "The Unaccompanied" (Faber & Faber, UK, Knopf, US, 2017), and his medieval translations include "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (Faber & Faber, UK, Norton, US, 2007). His dramatic reworkings of Homer’s "Iliad" and "Odyssey" have been performed at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. In 2015 he was appointed Oxford University professor of poetry.

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