Archive for the ‘Irish’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 12, 2017

 

 

Hero

by Kevin Higgins

 

The day you fall, bawling into the world
in a village northeast of Salisbury;
in faraway Florida, Sidney Poitier is busy

 

being one day old. In Moscow heavily scarved
women mark the anniversary:
Lenin – One Month Dead Today.

 

Your two older brothers soon join him.
And your father, Gabriel, scarpers.
You are ten years old. It is nineteen thirty four

 

and all down to you. Mission schools,
then university. You are a teacher.
Your only son dies of cerebral malaria.

 

For subversive speech,
you are under arrest. Ten years.
You study law. The Party

 

chooses you. Rocket launchers
and Chairman Mao. You look in the mirror
one morning and see: His Excellency Comrade President.

 

Your name on the lips of a continent.
In the final act you start gifting
farms the white man stole

 

to your friends. One for everyone
in the audience. As the supermarket shelves empty,
your life fills up with dead people.

 

The country may be living on Styrofoam and grass
but will sing your name
one last time. The air fat with laughter

 

as you step into the TV to say
“We don’t cheat; but on the other side…
all sorts of irregularities.”

 

A foreign journalist is arrested
on the tenth floor
of a hotel near the airport.

 

Silence,
but for the sound of an occasional dog barking
on Samora Machel Avenue.

 

Outside your office the sign:
Mugabe is right. It is two thousand and eight
and all down to you.

 

 

from Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010) 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 5, 2017

 

 

Blessings

By Katharine Tynan

 

God bless the little orchard brown
Where the sap stirs these quickening days.
Soon in a white and rosy gown
The trees will give great praise.

God knows I have it in my mind,
The white house with the golden eaves.
God knows since it is left behind
That something grieves and grieves.

God keep the small house in his care,
The garden bordered all in box,
Where primulas and wallflowers are
And crocuses in flocks.

God keep the little rooms that ope
One to another, swathed in green,
Where honeysuckle lifts her cup
With jessamine between.

God bless the quiet old grey head
That dreams beside the fire of me,
And makes home there for me indeed
Over the Irish Sea.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

November 21, 2017

 

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

by William Shakespeare

 

 

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

November 13, 2017

 

DARK ROSALEEN

by  James Clarence Mangan

 

O my dark Rosaleen,
    Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
    They march along the deep.
There’s wine from the royal Pope,
    Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Over hills, and thro’ dales,
    Have I roam’d for your sake;
All yesterday I sail’d with sails
    On river and on lake.
The Erne, at its highest flood,
    I dash’d across unseen,
For there was lightning in my blood,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
O, there was lightning in my blood,
Red lighten’d thro’ my blood.
    My Dark Rosaleen!
All day long, in unrest,
    To and fro, do I move.
The very soul within my breast
    Is wasted for you, love!
The heart in my bosom faints
    To think of you, my Queen,
My life of life, my saint of saints,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
To hear your sweet and sad complaints,
My life, my love, my saint of saints,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Woe and pain, pain and woe,
    Are my lot, night and noon,
To see your bright face clouded so,
    Like to the mournful moon.
But yet will I rear your throne
    Again in golden sheen;
‘Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
‘Tis you shall have the golden throne,
‘Tis you shall reign, and reign alone,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Over dews, over sands,
    Will I fly, for your weal:
Your holy delicate white hands
    Shall girdle me with steel.
At home, in your emerald bowers,
    From morning’s dawn till e’en,
You’ll pray for me, my flower of flowers,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
You’ll think of me through daylight hours
My virgin flower, my flower of flowers,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
I could scale the blue air,
    I could plough the high hills,
Oh, I could kneel all night in prayer,
    To heal your many ills!
And one beamy smile from you
    Would float like light between
My toils and me, my own, my true,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
Would give me life and soul anew,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
O, the Erne shall run red,
    With redundance of blood,
The earth shall rock beneath our tread,
    And flames wrap hill and wood,
And gun-peal and slogan-cry
    Wake many a glen serene,
Ere you shall fade, ere you shall die,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
The Judgement Hour must first be nigh,
Ere you can fade, ere you can die,
    My Dark Rosaleen!

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

November 7, 2017

 

Going back to your roots

 

Catharine writes:

                                  This was an extraordinary moment for me, to visit Aunt Polly’s grave in St.-James cemetery, Toronto. With John Fleming and Stephanie. There also was the grave of Polly’s mother, my great-grandmother. Thanks to their courage as immigrants and refugees from Ireland I could be born in Canada. I found myself choking up with gratitude.

 

 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

October 31, 2017

Discovering your roots

 

Your own family’s history can be an inspiration – and a good source of material for writing. In the video below Bob Fleming discusses how he traced his Irish roots. This same story led Catharine Fleming McKenty to write her first novel, Polly of Bridgewater Farm.

Have you investigated your own family’s history? Have you written your memoirs?

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 19, 2017

Spraying the potatoes.

by Patrick Kavanagh

 

The barrels of blue potato-spray
Stood on a headland in July
Beside an orchard wall where roses
Were young girls hanging from the sky.

The flocks of green potato stalks
Were blossom spread for sudden flight,
The Kerr’s Pinks in frivelled blue,
The Arran Banners wearing white.

And over that potato-field
A lazy veil of woven sun,
Dandelions growing on headlands, showing
Their unloved hearts to everyone.

And I was there with a knapsack sprayer
On the barrel’s edge poised. A wasp was floating
Dead on a sunken briar leaf
Over a copper-poisoned ocean.

The axle-roll of a rut-locked cart
Broke the burnt stick of noon in two.
An old man came through a cornfield
Remembering his youth and some Ruth he knew.

He turned my way. ‘God further the work’.
He echoed an ancient farming prayer.
I thanked him. He eyed the potato drills.
He said: ‘You are bound to have good ones there’.

We talked and our talk was a theme of kings,
A theme for strings. He hunkered down
In the shade of the orchard wall. O roses
The old man dies in the young girl’s frown.

And poet lost to potato-fields,
Remembering the lime and copper smell
Of the spraying barrels he is not lost
Or till blossomed stalks cannot weave a spell.

 

 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 5, 2017

Another September

by Thomas Kinsella

 

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
With the touch of dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
Hears through an open window the garden draw
Long pitch black breaths , lay bear its apple trees,
Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweethened soil,
Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St.Johns, all toil
Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.
Domestic autumn, like an animal
Long used to handling by those countrymen,
Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
Sensing a fragrant child come back again
– Not this half tolerated consciousness
That plants its grammar in her unyielding weather
But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
familiar where we fell asleep together.
Wakeful moth-wings blunder near a chair
Toss their light shell at the glass and go
To inhabit the living starlight,Stranded hair
Stirs on the still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgement, waned and – bearing daggers
And balances – down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women: Justice, Truth, such figures.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

August 22, 2017

 

Who goes amid the green wood

By James Joyce

 

Who goes amid the green wood
With springtide all adorning her?
Who goes amid the merry green wood
To make it merrier?

Who passes in the sunlight
By ways that know the light footfall?
Who passes in the sweet sunlight
With mien so virginal?

The ways of all the woodland
Gleam with a soft and golden fire
For whom does all the sunny woodland
Carry so brave attire?

O, it is for my true love
The woods their rich apparel wear
O, it is for my own true love,
That is so young and fair.

GOOD LUNCH WITH GREAT PEOPLE

May 5, 2017

 

Catharine writes:

Today, May 4th, I attended a packed luncheon hosted by the Irish-Canada Chamber of Commerce. Our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Ireland gave speeches emphasizing the strong bond between the two countries, with a firm emphasis on expanding trade embedded in a treaty with the European Union.

The speeches were met with a sustained standing ovation from approximately 500 people. A historic moment, when Canadians could reassert a certain independence from the whims floating across the border south of us.

I presented a copy of my book  Polly of Bridgewater Farm to the Irish Prime Minister, and also to Thomas Mulcair. To my great amusement, as you can see in the photo, a selfie with Mr. Mulcair, who knew Neil over many years, was the result.

I also presented a copy of Neil Mckenty Live to our Prime Minister. There on page 19 is a picture of his father about to throw out the first puck at the launch of floor hockey for the mentally challenged at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, as part of the Canadian Special Olympics. Neil worked for three years with Red Foster, the Kennedys and Brian O’Neill of the National Hockey League to  bring those Special Olympics to Canada and there Neil is standing behind Pierre Trudeau in the picture.

Neil’s story and Polly’s story both tell of hope in times of adversity. What keeps me young at heart is sharing both these stories as widely as possible. The response to both continues to grow.