Cascando

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 115th birthday.

Samuel Beckett
Irish
1906 – 1989

 

1

why not merely the despaired of
occasion of
wordshed

is it not better abort than be barren

the hours after you are gone are so leaden
they will always start dragging too soon
the grapples clawing blindly the bed of want
bringing up the bones the old loves
sockets filled once with eyes like yours
all always is it better too soon than never
the black want splashing their faces
saying again nine days never floated the loved
nor nine months
nor nine lives

2

saying again
if you do not teach me I shall not learn
saying again there is a last
even of last times
last times of begging
last times of loving
of knowing not knowing pretending
a last even of last times of saying
if you do not love me I shall not be loved
if I do not love you I shall not love

the churn of stale words in the heart again
love love love thud of the old plunger
pestling the unalterable
whey of words

terrified again
of not loving
of loving and not you
of being loved and not by you
of knowing not knowing pretending
pretending

I and all the others that will love you
if they love you

3

unless they love you

Bogland

We present this work in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Seamus Heaney
Irish
1939 – 2013

 

We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening—
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Encrouching horizon,

Is wooed into the cyclops’ eye
Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.

They’ve taken the skeleton
Of the Great Irish Elk
Out of the peat, set it up
An astounding crate full of air.

Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter

Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They’ll never dig coal here,

Only the waterlogged trunks
Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking
Inwards and downwards,

Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.

The wet centre is bottomless.

Ireland is Changing Mother

Rita Ann Higgins
Irish
b. 1955

 

Don’t throw out the loaves
with the dishes mother,
its not the double-takes so much
its that they take you by the double.
And where have all the Nelly’s gone
and all the missus Kelly’s gone
you might have had the cleanest step on your street
but so what mother,
nowadays it not the step but the mile that matters.

Meanwhile the Bally Bane Taliban
are battling it out over that football
that will bring the local yokels
to a deeper meaning of over the barring it,
and then some scarring will occur
as in cracked skull for your troubles.
They don’t just integrate, they limp-pa-grate,
your sons are shrinking mother.

Before this they were gods of that powerful thing
gods of the apron string.
They could eat a horse and they often did,
with your help mother.
Even Tim who has a black belt in sleep walking
and border lining couldn’t torch a cigarette
much less the wet-hay-stack of desire ,
even he can see, Ireland is changing mother.
Listen to black belt Tim mother.

When they breeze onto the pitch like some Namibian Gods
the local girls wet themselves.
They say in a hurry, o-ma-god, o-ma-god!
Not good for your sons mother
who claim to have invented everything
from the earwig to the slíothar.
They were used to seizing Cynthia’s hips
looking into her eyes and saying
I’m Johnny come lately, love me.
Now the Namibian gods and the Bally Bane Taliban
are bringing the local yokels
to their menacing senses
and scoring more goals than Cú Chúllainn.
Ireland is changing mother
tell yourself, tell your sons.

The Poet at Court

We present this work in honor of the 125th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Lady Jane Wilde
Irish
1821 – 1896

 

He stands alone in the lordly hall
He, with the high, pale brow;
But never a one at the festival
Was half so great, I trow.
They kiss the hand, and they bend the knee,
Slaves to an earthly king!
But the heir of a loftier dynasty
May scorn that courtly ring.

They press, with false and flattering words,
Around the blood‐bought throne;
But the homage never yet won by swords
Is his—the Anointed One!
His sway over every nation
Extendeth from zone to zone;
He reigns as a god o’er creation
The universe is his own.

No star on his breast is beaming,
But the light of his flashing eye
Reveals, in its haughtier gleaming,
The conscious majesty.
For the Poet’s crown is the godlike brow
Away with that golden thing!
Your fealty was never yet due till now

Kneel to the God‐made King!

The Bells of Limerick

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 205th birthday.

Frances Browne
Irish
1816 – 1879

 

Oh! bright on the silvery Shannon lies
The light of the setting sun,
And stately the city’s spires arise,
Where the isle’s last field was won!
But now, no stain of the battle’s blood
Remains, to sully that peaceful flood,—
Nor sound in the summer-evening swells,
Save that of St. Mary’s vesper bells.

There came a late and a lonely boat,
O’er the shining river’s breast;
And it bore, from a land far, far remote,
A sad and a stranger guest:—
A darker tint had tinged his brow
Than the skies that bent above him, now,
Could give their sons—and a brighter beam
Had shone on his youth, by Tiber’s stream.

His was the peerless land of song,
By the Muses blest, of yore;
But his steps had wandered, far and long,
From the bright Hesperian shore:
And his early home was a darkened spot,—
For the love, that brightened his hearth, was not;
And heavy and chill the clouds of age
Fell on his lonely pilgrimage.

But still, in his memory’s echo, swelled
A sweet and a solemn chime,—
That oft, through the golden twilight pealed,
In his own far southern clime:—
Oh! many a city and many a shore
Had the weary pilgrim wandered o’er,—
But they never sent to his aged ear
The sounds he had loved—and pined to hear!

Yet why doth the stranger start,—and turn
From his lonely musings, now?
And why doth such glowing gladness burn
In his aged eye and brow?
‘Tis only the vesper bells, again,
That ring from St. Mary’s sacred fane,—
But oh! to the wanderer’s heart they tell
Of scenes and voices remembered well!

His arm was strong, and his hope was bright,
When he tuned to melody
Those vesper bells, in the cloudless light
Of his own Italian sky;—
And now, on a distant northern shore,
That music breathed on his heart once more—
Though the strength and hope of his years were past—
As sweet as when he heard it last!

For the light of many a twilight hour,
And the breath of many a strain,
From cottage porch, and from myrtle bower,
With that sound returned again:—
And the wanderer listened, like one whose soul
Had found the path to its early goal,—
But his eyes were fixed, and his very breath
Seemed hush in the changeless hush of death!

Fainter and fainter the last low note
On the waters died away;
And the rowers paused,—for the lonely boat
By the stately city lay.
But the wanderer moved not—spoke not—still,
Though the dews of night fell fast and chill,
And strangers lifted his drooping head,—
But they found that the weary soul had fled!

Oh! strange were the yearning thoughts and fond
Round that lone heart’s ruined shrine,—
As the Hebrew’s thirst for the fount beyond
Philistia’s leaguering line!
But the sounds, that in life he loved the best,
May peal, unheeded, above his rest,—
For still, through the summer twilight, swells
The sound of St. Mary’s vesper bells!

All Day I Hear the Noise of Waters

We present this work in honor of the 80th anniversary of the poet’s death.

James Joyce
Irish
1882 – 1941

 

All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the water’s
Monotone.

The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.

A Song for the New Year

We present this work in honor of New Year’s Day.

Katharine Tynan
Irish
1859 – 1931

 

The Year of the Sorrows went out with great wind:
Lift up, lift up, O broken hearts, your Lord is kind,
And He shall call His flock home where no storms be
Into a sheltered haven out of sound of the sea.

There shall be bright sands there and a milken hill,
They shall lie in the sun there and drink their fill,
They shall have dew and shade there and grass to the knee,
Safe in a sheltered haven out of sound of the sea.

He shall bind their wounds up and their tears shall cease:
They shall have sweetest pillows and a bed of ease.
Come up, come up and hither, O little flock, saith He,
Ye shall have sheltered havens out of sound of the sea.

The first day of New Year strewed the sea with dead.
Lift up, lift up, O broken heart and hanging head!
The Lord walks on the waters and a Shepherd is He
They shall have sheltered havens out of sound of the sea.

The Too-Late Prodigal

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

Edna O’Brien
Irish
b. 1930

 

I knew in fact the old home house was gone.
No longer did good oak and stone make sky
Seem bluer blue against its brown and gray,
No longer were the tall rooms stacked two high;
Even the chimney bricks were haled away—

Yet coming through the pasture firs just now,
My heart filled up with all that used to be.
For one rare moment time reversed the years,
And home was there in all simplicity,
So living real it choked my throat with tears.

It’s there, I thought, awaiting my return;
Any moment I will see the door
Swing wide! Just then my seeing heart went blind,
And eyes saw lonely space, and nothing more.
Lot’s wife and I should not have looked behind.

Beauty’s a Flower

Moira O’Neill
Irish
1864 – 1955

 

Youth’s for an hour,
Beauty’s a flower,
But love is the jewel that wins the world.

Youth’s for an hour, an’ the taste o’ life is sweet,
Ailes was a girl that stepped on two bare feet;
In all my days I never seen the one as fair as she,
I’d have lost my life for Ailes, an’ she never cared for me.

Beauty’s a flower, an’ the days o’ life are long,
There’s little knowin’ who may live to sing another song;
For Ailes was the fairest, but another is my wife,
An’ Mary—God be good to her!—is all I love in life.

Youth’s for an hour,
Beauty’s a flower,
But love is the jewel that wins the world.

The Assignation

George Farquhar
Irish
1677 – 1707

 

The Minute’s past appointed by my Fair,
The Minute’s fled
And leaves me dead
With Anguish and Despair.

My flatter’d Hopes their Flight did make
With the appointed Hour;
None can the Minute’s past o’retake,
And nought my Hopes restore.

Cease your Plaints, and make no Moan,
Thou sad repining Swain;
Although the fleeting Hour be gone,
The Place doe’s still remain.

The Place remains, and she may make
Amends for all your Pain;
Her Presence can past Time o’ertake,
Her Love your Hopes regain.