Everything is Going to be All Right – by Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon, Belfast man, died yesterday aged 78. He was considered one of the most innovative Irish poets in the sixties and seventies. This poem has been widely quoted since the arrival of Covid 19:

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, and there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.

Today’s Ulster Poet – Séamus Heaney.

This is the last Ulster Poet post and it’s the best of all.

POSTSCRIPT

And some time make the time to drive out west

Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,

In September or October, when the wind

And light are working off each other

So that the ocean on one side is wild

With foam and glitter, and inland among stones

The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,

Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,

Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads

Tucked or cresting or busy under water.

Useless to think you’ll park and capture it

More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,

A hurry through which known and strange things pass

As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

THERE WAS A TIME . . .

In the dim, silent church

A glow of votive lamps

Fluttering blue and gold and red

Whispered prayers in corner shrines

Beneath the outstretched hands

Of painted saints

Beads clicking, slowly told

Sundays burst in glory

Sweet choir lifting voice

The Truth sang in my mouth

I filled my eyes with bright

And lustrous threads

The golden flame of candles

Veiling mysteries at the altar

The heavy scent of flowers

Inhaled security

And a weightless peace

In certain knowledge of hereafter

Our hearts were warm, absolved 

Beloved of our maker

And safe in the house of God.

Fairies: The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats – an excerpt

I have read many reviews of books about, or including, fairies; they put me in mind of Yeat’s poem “The Stolen Child” which he wrote in Co Sligo, in Glencar (original Irish name Glenn an Chairthe – the glen of the standing stone). I was there many years ago; it’s a magic, beautiful place, so green and full of water. Here is an excerpt from the poem:

Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim grey sands with light,

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night,

Weaving olden dances,

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles,

While the world is full of troubles

And is anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you

can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathes a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you

can understand.

Donnacha

Four Aprils old

His heart knows

Only joy

Proud and brave

He stands up straight

In uniform

My girl intent

Upon his lunchbox

Putting in

Taking out

Balancing . . .

Her eyelids not quite dry

I look at her

She looks at him

He waves at me

We spin in a ring of love

And recognise the day

Of separation

Today’s Ulster Poet: Cathal ó Searcaigh (translated from Irish)

CLABBER: THE POET AT THREE

“That’s clabber! Clutching clabber

sucks caddies down,” said my father harshly

while I was stomping happily

in the ditch on the side of the road.

“Climb out of that clabber pit

before you catch your death of it!”

But I went on splattering and splashing,

and scattering whoops of joy:

“Clabber! Clabber! I belong to it,”

although the word meant nothing to me

until I heard a squelch in my wellies

and felt through every fibre of my duds

the cold tremors of awakening knowledge.

O elected clabber, you chilled me to the bone.

(Clábar is the Irish word for mud.)