Today is National Poetry Day and I thought it would be nice to share my favourite poem and in the comments section encourage all of you to do the same.

“For A Leader” by John O’Donohue

May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning

To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.

May you never put yourself at the center of things.

May you act not from arrogance but out of service.

May you work on yourself,
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May those who work for you know
You see and respect them.

May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the
And may you never become a functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth

  • mickfealty

    Thanks David. Be warned, I’m tempted to overshare on this. But initially at least, I’ll stick to Longley.

    The Lodger

    The lodger is writing a novel.
    We give him the run of the house
    But he occupies my mind as well-
    An attic, a lumber-room
    For his typewriter, notebooks,
    The slowly accumulating pages.

    At the end of each four-fingered
    Suffering line the Angelus rings-
    A hundred noons and sunsets
    As we lie here whispering,
    Careful not to curtail our lives
    Or change the names he has given us.

    Michael Longley

  • Pang

    Thank you David McCann for sharing that. It reminds me of Kipling’s IF.
    My contribution is also moralistic, but not at all serious
    Who chewed bits of string, and was early cut off in Dreadful agonies.
          The Chief Defect of Henry King
          Was chewing little bits of String.
          At last he swallowed some which tied
          Itself in ugly Knots inside.

          Physicians of the Utmost Fame
          Were called at once; but when they came
          They answered, as they took their Fees,
          “There is no Cure for this Disease.

          “Henry will very soon be dead.
          His Parents stood about his Bed
          Lamenting his Untimely Death,
          When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

          Cried, “Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
          That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
          Are all the Human Frame requires…
          With that, the Wretched Child expires.
    Hilaire Belloc

  • Dixie Elliott

    That was a terrible poem
    The worst I’ve ever read.
    It didn’t rhythm, no not one time.
    Like read should rhythm with bread.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t call us, er, we’ll call you… 😉

  • mickfealty

    For Martin Dillon, who’s book I am (mostly) enjoying at the moment with a mind to writing a short review shortly… Longley on Martin’s Uncle Gerard, the West Belfast born and bred artist (some examples here: https://goo.gl/7ugTzN):

    In Memory of Gerard Dillon


    You walked, all of a sudden, through
    The rickety gate which opens
    To the scatter of curlews,
    An acre of watery light; your grave
    A dip in the dunes where the sand mislays
    The sound of the sea, earth over you
    Like a low Irish sky; the sun
    An electric light bulb clouded
    By the sandy tides, sunlight lost
    And found, a message in a bottle.


    You are a room full of self-portraits,
    A face that follows us everywhere;
    An ear to the ground listening for
    Dead brothers in layers; an eye
    Taking in the beautiful predators-
    Cats on the windowsill, birds of prey
    And, between the diminutive fields,
    A dragonfly, wings of light
    Where the road narrows to the last farm.


    Christening robes, communion dresses,
    The shawls of factory workers,
    A blind drawn on the Lower Falls.

  • Pang

    Give us a hint Mick, what foes the lodger/writer represent?

  • Dixie Elliott

    An Irish Airman foresees his Death
    By William Butler Yeats:

    I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.

  • mickfealty

    Wiser folk than me will tell you that. 😉

  • Easóg

    Subh Milis

    Bhí subh milis
    Ar bhascrann an dorais,
    Ach mhúch mé an corraí
    Ionam a d’éirigh,
    Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá
    A bheas an baschrann glan,
    Agus an lámh bheag
    Ar iarraidh.

    Séamus Ó Néill

  • mickfealty

    This one is Heaney, Station Island (1984). For Packy, in case he ever visits this poor benighted place.

    Last Look
    (In memorium EG)

    We came upon him, stilled
    and oblivious,
    gazing into a field
    of blossoming potatoes,
    his trouser bottoms wet
    and flecked with grass seed.
    Crowned blunt-headed weeds
    that flourished in the verge
    flailed against our car
    but he seemed not to hear
    in his long watchfulness
    by the clifftop fuchsias.

    He paid no heed that day,
    no more than if he were
    sheep’s wool on barbed wire
    or an old lock of hay
    combed from a passing load
    by a bush in the roadside.

    He was back in his twenties,
    travelling Donegal
    in the grocery cart
    of Gallagher and Son,
    Merchant, Publican,
    Retail and Import.
    Flourbags, nosebags, buckets
    of water for the horse
    in every whitewashed yard.
    Drama between hedges
    if he met a Model Ford.

    If Niamh had ridden up
    to make the wide strand sweet
    with inviting Irish,
    weaving among hoofbeats
    and hoofmarks on the wet
    dazzle and blaze,
    I think not even she
    could have drawn him out
    from the covert of his gaze.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Just read this, by Scotland’s late, great Somhairle MacGill-Eain:


    Often when I called Edinburgh
    a grey town without darting sun,
    it would light up with your beauty,
    a refulgent white-starred town.

    Tric’s mi gabhail air Dùn-èideann
    baile glas gun ghathadh grèine,
    ‘s ann a lasadh e le d’bhòidhche,
    baile lòghmhor geal-reultach.

  • file

    It represents a lodger. Sometimes poetry is narrative, you know? The poetry bit in this poem is in the idea of the poet and his wife lying in bed presuming they are characters in yer man’s novel and under an obligation to pretend not to notice. That and the metaphor of the Angelus bell for the return bell on the typewriter.

  • file

    National Poetry Day in Ireland in on 27 April. not that poetry recognises political, or other, boundaries.

    The last stanza of this poem below will go on my headstone, only because there is not enough room for all of it. This is perhaps the perfect marriage between form and content. Well played Mister MacNeice.

    “Sunlight on the Garden”
    by Louis Macneice

    The sunlight on the garden
    Hardens and grows cold,
    We cannot cage the minute
    Within its nets of gold;
    When all is told
    We cannot beg for pardon.

    Our freedom as free lances
    Advances towards its end;
    The earth compels, upon it
    Sonnets and birds descend;
    And soon, my friend,
    We shall have no time for dances.

    The sky was good for flying
    Defying the church bells
    And every evil iron
    Siren and what it tells:
    The earth compels,
    We are dying, Egypt, dying

    And not expecting pardon,
    Hardened in heart anew,
    But glad to have sat under
    Thunder and rain with you,
    And grateful too
    For sunlight on the garden.

  • mickfealty

    Nice. Thanks.

  • babyface finlayson

    Yesterday on Stormont stairs
    I met an MLA who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    How I wish he’d go away!

  • mickfealty

    And that one always reminds me of this one:

    When We Were Children

    When we were children words were coloured
    (Harlot and murder were dark purple)
    And language was a prism, the light
    A conjured inlay on the grass,
    Whose rays today are concentrated
    And language grown a burning-glass.

    When we were children Spring was easy,
    Dousing our heads in suds of hawthorn
    And scrambling the laburnum tree—
    A breakfast for the gluttonous eye;
    Whose winds and sweets have now forsaken
    Lungs that are black, tongues that are dry.

    Now we are older and our talents
    Accredited to time and meaning,
    To handsel joy requires a new
    Shuffle of cards behind the brain
    Where meaning shall remarry color
    And flowers be timeless once again.

    – Louis MacNeice

  • mickfealty

    The Rolling English Road

    Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
    The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
    A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
    And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
    A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
    The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

    I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
    And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
    But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
    To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
    Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
    The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

    His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
    Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
    The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
    But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
    God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
    The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

    My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
    Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
    But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
    And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
    For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
    Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

    – GK Chesteron (1913)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Towards the end of his life Joseph Campbell, the Belfast born poet who most perfectly expresses the Northern irish Cultural revival in the years before the Great War, wrote a group of new poems, unpublished in book form until twenty years after his death. Campbell, a friend of Ezra Pound and T E, Hulme, who had been the first poet to bring Imagism to Ireland, the first to write free verse (in his “Irishry” of 1911) returned to the mellifluous music of his very earliest poems. “Lamb in Briars” is almost an indirect elegy for that tremendous up flow of creativity in the north in those pre-1914 years which the rancour of politics blighted and withered, as well as an accurate summing up of a career whose true stature is unrecognised even today. The terrible loss of a talent which inspired F. R, Higgins and Austen Clarke alongside a whole earlier generation of Irish poets is eloquently described by the simple fact that his last collection of poetry was issued in 1917, just under thirty years before his death.

    Thou must suffer, being young,
    Drink thy tears with salty tongue,
    Wear thy wool to warm the Squires–
    Lamb in Briars!

    Thou must die, for thou are weak,
    Cry until thy courage break,
    Fat thy flesh to feed the Friars–
    Lamb in Briars!

    Gentle heart and shining fleece
    Bleed to give the King increase,
    Waste to sate the Queen’s desires–
    Lamb in Briars!

    Gideon’s rods were, weighed with thine,
    Tendrils on a Summer vine:
    Thine are sharp as Moloch’s fires–
    Lamb in Briars

    Once as white and whole as thou,
    I am grey and broken now,
    Worldlings all are wolves and liars–
    Lamb in Briars!

  • mickfealty

    Day of Liberation
    (Bergen-Belsen, May 1945)

    We build our own prison walls,
    but that day the doors fell open.
    It was holiday time
    In the death camp.

    Lift him with courtesy,
    this silent survivor.
    Battle-dress doctors,
    We took him from the truck,
    put him to bed.

    The moving skeleton
    had crippled hands,
    his skinny palms held secrets.
    When I undid the joints I found
    five wheat grains huddled there.
    In the faces of other people
    I witness my distress.

    I close my eyes:
    ten thousand wasted people
    piled in the flesh pits.
    Death of one is the death of all.
    It is not the dead I pity.

    Philip Whitfield

  • Granni Trixie

    My favourite!

  • Granni Trixie

    Since this is a political blog I think it appropriate to post a poem from a book of poems by Sam Duddy, “Concrete Whirlpools of the Mind” (1983, with an introduction from Andy Tyrie, dedicated “to all the long-suffering people of Ulster that they may see the light”):

    The Political Pawn

    I am a British squaddy
    And I serve Queen and Crown
    I have seen the world and all its glory bold
    But sending me to Belfast
    Was someone’s great mistake
    For now I’m lying in a graveyard cold
    They told me folks in Belfast
    Were a pleasant, friendly lot
    And my tour would be just like
    A holiday
    But death found me in Belfast
    In my twenty-second year
    In 1976 (the Twelfth of May)
    I did not hear the bomb blast
    I did not feel the pain
    The sun just blotted out
    Before my eyes
    But someone in the Ministry
    Had better think again
    Before they coldly plot out
    Man’s deminse.

    I suspect I have a valuable collectible here.

  • mickfealty



    I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
    But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
    But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”
    But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
    But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! ”
    But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

    – Rudyard Kipling (1890)

  • mickfealty

    Anger lay by me

    Anger lay by me all night long,
    His breath was hot upon my brow,
    He told me of my burning wrong,
    All night he talked and would not go.

    He stood by me all through the day,
    Struck from my hand the book, the pen;
    He said: ‘Hear first what I’ve to say,
    And sing, if you’ve the heart to, then.’

    And can I cast him from my couch?
    And can I lock him from my room?
    Ah no, his honest words are such
    That he’s my true-lord, and my doom.

    – Elizabeth Daryush

  • George

    Suicide in the Trenches

    I knew a simple soldier boy

    Who grinned at life in empty joy,

    Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

    And whistled early with the lark.

    In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

    With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

    He put a bullet through his brain.

    No one spoke of him again.

    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

    Sneak home and pray you’ll never know

    The hell where youth and laughter go.

    Siegfried Sassoon

  • mickfealty

    two south coast poems

    (a) this morning i came within sound of the sea

    for a man whose eyes till now were a bed of rock
    whose hands were drier than deserts
    the sea’s voice drove fear up through the valley
    the tributaries meandering inside me longing for outlet
    shrivelled even as their own courses became straight

    my demand for ocean died now the ocean approached

    the clouds put up with a lot of invective from me today
    not a stone lay upon the earth in its right place
    the valley upheaved into a mountain and the sea froze
    the hardness in me was all fluid – i cried to be melted away

    i could not bring myself down into the green pastures
    or lay myself out amidst fruits and believe the sun
    the truth i’d been stumbling towards i hated the heart of
    the sayings of those i’d killed enchanted my ears
    my instinct was to turn and run inland forever

    and on the morrow i went down to the sea
    and stood for a long time for the waters to calm me
    i let my feet root among the shingle and seaweed
    and my mind bobbed on the cove’s waves absorbing their rhythms
    what i had come for i found looking for me – and the green
    world conceiving inside me smashed through my skin

    (b) the sheer stupidity of the sea

    going on and on mounting the land
    and falling away again
    gathering to itself a compendium
    of its own tricks

    not thinking
    that any one cares which way the tides
    alter the look of the beach
    but just doing it like an animal
    because it has to – having nothing else
    it could reasonably do and remain

    it’s that stupidity
    in all its sheerness that people
    (unable to admit in themselves)
    find to worship in water – and that’s why
    they can’t get it out of their dreams
    and (near it) regress into children
    (the only unashamed animal-bit
    they have left in themselves)

    all classrooms should be down by the sea

    – RG Gregory

  • Paul Holland

    Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view it in your browser.
    News from The Poetry Foundation
    Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
    Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Forward to a Friend
    for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local l00, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

    Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
    and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
    a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
    the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
    Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
    glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
    Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
    worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
    that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
    for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
    Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
    even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
    rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

    Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
    like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
    Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
    could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
    Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,
    Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
    Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
    where the gas burned blue on every stove
    and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
    hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
    or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
    Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
    of his dishes and silverware in the tub.

    Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
    who worked that morning because another dishwasher
    could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
    to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
    floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
    Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
    and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

    After the thunder wilder than thunder,
    after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
    after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
    after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
    for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
    like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
    about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
    soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
    across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
    Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

    Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
    two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
    mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
    Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
    And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
    I will teach you. Music is all we have.
    Martín Espada, “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Martín Espada. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
    Source: New and Selected Poems ( W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003 )
    Please note: We strive to preserve the text formatting of poems over email, but certain email clients may distort how character indent, line wraps, and fonts appear.
    View the poem on our website.

    More about
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    This poem stopped me in my tracks and made me hang my head..,

  • mickfealty

    Last one from me for the night (H/T Orla)..

    Golden Mothers Driving West

    The inevitable call came from the Alzheimer’s nursing home.

    Mummy had been sitting there in an armchair for two years

    In a top-storey room with two other aged ladies, 

    Deborah O’Donoghue and Maureen Timoney. 

    Three Irish orang-utans, silent, stationary. 

    The call was to say that between 3 and 5 a.m.

    The three of them had gone missing from the room. 

    At first it was thought that all three had slipped

    Out the window, ajar in the hot, humid night. 

    But, no, there were no torsos in the flowerbed. 

    It transpired that a car had also gone missing.

    Was it thinkable they had commandeered a car? 

    At five in the afternoon the police called

    To say that a Polish youth in a car wash in Kinnegad

    Had washed and hot-waxed a car for three ladies, 

    All of whom were wearing golden dressing gowns –

    Standard issue golden dressing gowns

    Worn by all the inmates of the Alzheimer’s nursing home.

    Why he remembered them was that he was struck

    By the fact that all three ladies were laughing 

    For the ten minutes it took him to wash the car. 

    ‘I am surprised,’ he stated, ‘by laughter.’ 

    At 9 p.m. the car was sighted in Tarmonbarry 

    On the Roscommon side of the River Shannon, 

    Parked at the jetty of the Emerald Star marina.

    At 9.30 p.m. a female German child was taken 

    To the police station at Longford by her stepfather. 

    The eleven-year-old had earlier told her stepfather 

    In the cabin of their hired six-berth river cruiser

    That she had seen three ladies jump from the bridge. 

    Her stepfather had assumed his daughter imagined it 

    As she was, he told police, ‘a day-dreamer born’.

    The girl repeated her story to the police:

    How three small, thin, aged ladies with white hair

    Had, all at once, together, jumped from the bridge,

    Their dressing gowns flying behind them in the breeze.

    What colours were the dressing gowns? she was asked.

    ‘They are wearing gold,’ she replied.

    Wreathed on the weir downstream from the bridge

    Police sub-aqua divers retrieved the three bodies, 

    One of whom, of course, was my own emaciated mother, 

    Whose fingerprints were later found on the wheel of the car. 

    She had been driving west, west to Westport, 

    Westport on the west coast of Ireland
In the County of Mayo,

    Where she had grown up with her mother and sisters

    In the War of Independence and the Civil War, 

    Driving west to Streamstown three miles outside Westport,

    Where on afternoons in September in 1920, 

    Ignoring the roadblocks and the assassinations, 

    They used walk down Sunnyside by the sea’s edge, 

    The curlews and the oystercatchers, 

    The upturned black currachs drying out on the stones, 

    And picnic on the machair grass above the seaweed, 

    Under the chestnut trees turning autumn gold

    And the fuchsia bleeding like troupes of crimson-tutu’d

    ballerinas in the black hedgerows.

    Standing over my mother’s carcass in the morgue, 

    A sheep’s skull on a slab,

    A girl in her birth-gown blown across the sand, 

    I shut my eyes: 
Thank you, O golden mother, 

    For giving me a life, 

    A spear of rain.

    After a long life searching for a little boy who lives 
down the lane

    You never found him, but you never gave up;

    In your afterlife nightie

    You are pirouetting expectantly for the last time.

    – Paul Durcan

  • George

    An aside to a beautiful poem – People from the North often fail to realise the effects of the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War on the southern psyche.

  • Brendan Heading

    De Valera at Ninety-Two

    (based on conversations between De Valera and the poet, Brendan Kennelly)

    To sit here, past my ninetieth year,
    Is a joy you might find hard to understand.
    My wife is dead. For sixty years
    She stood by me, although I know
    She always kept a secret place in her heart
    For herself. This I understood. There must always be
    A secret place where one can go
    And brood on what cannot be thought about
    Where there is noise and men and women.

    Some say I started a civil war.
    There are those who say I split the people.
    I did not.
    The people split themselves.
    They could not split me.
    I think now I was happiest when I taught
    Mathematics to teachers in their training.
    From nineteen hundred and six to nineteen sixteen
    I taught the teachers.
    Then the trouble started.
    In jail, I of ten sat for hours
    Especially at evening
    Thinking of those mathematical problems
    I loved to solve
    Here was a search for harmony,
    The thrill of difficulty,
    The possibility of solution.
    Released from jail, I set about
    Making a nation,
    A vicious business,
    More fools among my friends than in my enemies,
    Devoted to what they hardly understood.
    Did I understand? You must understand
    I am not a talker, but a listener.
    Men like to talk, I like to listen.
    I store things up inside.
    I remember what many seem to forget.
    I remember my grandfather
    Telling of his brother’s burial in Clare.
    The dead man was too tall
    To fit an ordinary grave
    So they had to cut into a neighbour’s plot,
    Break the railings round a neighbour’s grave
    To bury a tall man.
    This led to war between the families,
    Trouble among the living
    Over a patch o’ land for the dead.
    The trouble’s still there. Such things, as you know,
    Being a countryman yourself,
    Are impossible to settle.
    When my grandfather scattered things on the kitchen floor
    He used strange words from the Gaelic.
    I wonder still about the roots of words.
    They don’t teach Latin in the schools now.
    That’s bad, that’s very bad.
    It is as important to know
    Where the words in your mouth come from
    As where you come from yourself.
    Not to know such origins
    Is not to know who you are
    Or what you think you’re saying.
    I had a small red book at school,
    ‘Twas full of roots,
    I still remember it.

    Roots. . . and crops. Origins… and ends.
    The woman who looks after me now
    Tells me to sip my brandy.
    Sometimes I forget I have a glass in my hand
    And so I do what I’m told.
    I have been blind for years.
    I live in a world of voices
    And of silence.
    I think of my own people, the tall men,
    Their strange words, the land
    Unmoved by all our passions about it,
    This land I know from shore to shore,
    The Claremen roaring their support
    And all the odds and ends
    (What was that word he had for them?)
    Scattered on my grandfather’s kitchen floor.

  • mickfealty


  • Brendan Heading

    profound isn’t it ? it’s printed at the back of Tim Pat Coogan’s book on Dev.

    It reminds me of when Bill Craig would appear in interviews in later years. Frail, but embittered and defiant until the end.

  • George

    My favourite poem!

  • Dixie Elliott

    By Ethna Carbery.

    Because you brought the hills to me–
    The dear hills I had never seen,
    All sweet with heather down the braes,
    And golden gorse between–

    Where sings the blackbird in the dawn,
    And where the blue lake-water stirs,
    And where the slender wind-blown sedge
    Shakes all its silver spurs.

    Because you loved the country ways,
    Whereon your happy feet were set.
    Nor was the calmness of your days,
    Stirred by one vexed regret.

    But in your every homely word
    I heard my unknown kinsfolk call
    My roving heart to find its nest
    Afar in Donegal.

  • mickfealty

    I once did a project which involved interviewing centenarians. Memories become fragments at that age, some larger, some smaller. It’s Kinneally’s distillation that makes so powerful. And the fact it’s a man we think we know.

  • mickfealty
  • mickfealty

    Mostly because I can’t stop…

    The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán
    Written by a student of the monastery of Carinthia on a copy of St Paul’s Epistles, in the eighth century

    (From the Gaelic translated by Robin Flower)

    I and Pangur Ban my cat,
    ‘Tis a like task we are at:
    Hunting mice is his delight,
    Hunting words I sit all night.

    Better far than praise of men
    ‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
    Pangur bears me no ill-will,
    He too plies his simple skill.

    ‘Tis a merry task to see
    At our tasks how glad are we,
    When at home we sit and find
    Entertainment to our mind.

    Oftentimes a mouse will stray
    In the hero Pangur’s way;
    Oftentimes my keen thought set
    Takes a meaning in its net.

    ‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
    Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
    ‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
    All my little wisdom try.

    When a mouse darts from its den,
    O how glad is Pangur then!
    O what gladness do I prove
    When I solve the doubts I love!

    So in peace our task we ply,
    Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
    In our arts we find our bliss,
    I have mine and he has his.

    Practice every day has made
    Pangur perfect in his trade;
    I get wisdom day and night
    Turning darkness into light.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A day late!!

    The Larne poet John Lyle Donaghy, a close friend of Samuel Beckett and other Irish modernists, died in 1949 at 47 years. A small booklet was issued in Autumn 1949 by “Rann”, a poetry quarterly edited by Barbara Hunter and Roy McFadden. Donaghy’s poems were selected by his childhood friend the journalist and poet George Buchanan, with a small portrait of Donaghy by Rowel Friers on the cover. While most of his long complex poems usually echo the American modernism of Ezra Pound or Robinson Jeffers, with hints of Elliot, this short poem echoes his childhood in the countryside around Larne:


    I do not go to town, she said,
    So often, now that Owen is dead,
    But I walk sometimes up to nightfall
    The green fields under Sallagh wall.
    On Sunday in the church that stands
    A little above the sloping lands,
    I sit, whenever I can get,
    And watch where the red panes are set;
    Oh yes and I have friends who come
    And work and talk with me at home.

    “Sallagh walls” are the great horseshoe of Sallagh Brae dramatically visible from the Antrim Coast Road and ending in the promontory fort of Knockdhu and an ancient series of earthworks to the north.