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Uniquely Irish



D216D636-3BCE-43E1-9A0A-616DDB4B688C.jpegUniquely Irish, The Shamrock

Never want to sound terse
nothing could be any worse
so I'll try to write a clever verse.

Of shamrock's I will carp,
may sound a bit too sharp,
not like sweet music on the harp.

In distant Ireland of all places,
they cover most of the bases,
even the art of shaving faces.
                  ~~ Judi Van Gorder

Seamrog, (Gaelic) shamrock, with its 3 leaves is said to represent not only the Holy Trinity, but also (the fruits of the spirit, faith, hope and charity), (love, valor and wit), (past, present and future) and uniquely Irish, (clever verse, music on the harp, and the art of shaving faces).

Happy St. Patrick's Day.   Today everyone is Irish, I already have the corned beef simmering.  I've been reading poems by Irish poets lately and I thought I'd share a few in honor of the day.

The Irish have a rich poetic tradition, beginning with the oral disciplines of the Celts. When Gaelic replaced the Celtic language, it added a musicality and the lyrical rhythm that is distinctly Irish. When one thinks of Irish poetry one of the first poems to come to mind is The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats.   One of my favorites is the more contemporary Irish poet Seamus Heaney. So in celebration of the day I will simply share some poems by Irish poet’s beginning with one our own members, the Irishman transplanted to Japan, Brendan aka Daedalus.  


On the Hill of Howth
High on the Hill of Howth,
abreast with the smacking winds,
I thought how I loved this country,
and knew I could not stay.
Ireland is small, reduced,
alive with its fierce and miniature dramas,                                 
sucking out one’s spirit and blood,
returning songs and poetry, little else.
Life will return with action,
with movement across fields and prairies,
in the adoption of smiling moments,
the conquest of cities and towns.
Life is only fulfilled abroad,
in the clamour of the streets,
in heroic deeds at lonely outposts,
with the fatal squeeze on city councils.
We are everywhere,

in the manner of musical locusts,
and in bearing up people with song,
we carry the bruised.
                   ~~Dedalus aka Brendan



Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying—
He had always taken funerals in his stride—
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.             

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four-foot box, a foot for every year.
                                             ~~Seamus Heaney

On Raglan Road

On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay -
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that's known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of day.
                                                                 ~~ Patrick Kavanagh




Of course when thinking of Irish poetry, how can I ignore the Limerick, so very Irish. Did you know the frame can be traced back to St Thomas Aquinas (Italy 1225-1274) in Latin. It is speculated that it is really an old French form brought to the town of Limerick Ireland by returning veterans of the French War in 1702, and It was English poets that made the form famous. But Latin, French or English, does  not change the fact, the lyrical, humorous, sometimes down right raunchy, Limerick is Irish to its core.  

There was a young man from Savannah                                   
Who died in a curious manner:
He whittled a hole
In a telephone pole
And electrified his banana.
A flea and a fly in a flue                                                                    
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "let us flee!"
"Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
                               —Ogden Nash
There was a young lady named Bright
who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day
in a relative way,
and came back the previous night.

Earlier I mentioned Yeats and his famous The Lake Isle of Innisfree. He is the most popular of all Irish poets and for good reason. I'll end here with a couple more of his poems.

When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;                   

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
                                ~~ William Butler Yeats



The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven<
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season           
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?
                                                    ~~ William Butler Yeats 




Down by the Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.
                       ~~William Butler Yeats

Today be sure to wear some green, enjoy some corned beef and cabbage, raise a mug of beer and salute the Irish. And if you feel like scribbling a few words on a page, why not offer up your own Limerick for the day.

~~Tink aka Judi Van Gorder 

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Although you may think you have nothing to say,
you always have words that with which you can play
so pull out your pen
go into your zen
and scribble some lines for St. Paddy's Day.

                              ~~Judi Van Gorder

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