Monday, September 2

Poetic Elements

The elements I'm talking about are the elements you find the further west you go in Ireland....

Donegal and the roaring sea coming in from America...The Atlantic...
And the way it leads to poetry.

Well this is a very emotional week for us Irish.

From the era of post-Yeats when it seemed noone could surpass him and his mystical lines...
...suddenly came the farmer's son who gave us gave us earth...
                ...came Seamus Heaney....

... the digging...the tilling...the ploughing...the calloused hands that my father bore as he worked the soil when I was young....before my city mother persuaded him to give it up....

So first a Yeats gem....

Dance there upon the shore;
what need have you to care
For wind or water's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead.
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind? 

and then Heaney in all his honesty...

The Peninsula
by Seamus Heaney
When you have nothing more to say, just drive
For a day all around the peninsula,
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks, so you will not arrive
But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
And you're in the dark again.  Now recall
The glazed foreshore and silhoutted log.
That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
The leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
Islands riding themselves out into the fog.
And then drive back home, still with nothing to say
Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
By this; things founded clean on their own shapes
Water and ground in their extremity

                                  Muckross Rocks Donegal July 2013

I owe so much to these poets who encircled first my childhood ...and then my adult thinking.....



  1. Yeats was a madman with words, give the beauty of youth and take it away with a dose of reality--reminds me of Sandburg. Of course they were contemporaries but of vastly different ideation in how to present subject matter. I enjoyed this one.

    The Heaney not so familiar with his work but am sorry for your nations loss. He is correct though, when all is said, drive, pass through the places you cannot change and arrive home again knowing you, though talked out for now are not changed.

    1. thankyou Mark...well I hope you get to know Heaney a bit as he said it as it was.

  2. Yes Gerry there is wonderful poetry from both of them. If we were a country who believed in reincarnation then it would be easy to believe that Heaney was a reincarnation of Yeats wouldb't it? Two great men

    1. they certainly wrote the heart of ~Ireland Pat...though Heaney was more of the common man.

  3. Replies
    1. the man who said it and then it was said!

  4. Great words from such inspiring Irishmen. I grew up around their poetry too and the countryside that inspired them - especially with Heaney.

    1. ...we were so lucky I think Rosie even though there is still so much to sort out!!


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