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.

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.)

HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN by William Butler Yeats.

I’m in a Yeats mood today and this is one of my favourites. So romantic, so beautiful and all for nothing; Maud Gonne didn’t love him back.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The Small Dark Man – a poem

A rattle of keys at the back door

We waited – wary

His face shut tight against us

Like a fist

Toed-in, he crouched over furtive whiskeys

Fingers curled

Over chin and cigarette

And we ghosted from the room

With nervous grins

But once he showed me Dickens

And Maurice Walsh

And he was The Small Dark Man

Alone in a house of women

Cut off by his country voice

From the town

Squeezing memories

From an old melodeon

Sometimes – surprised

His face would lift with love

And fall again

Now I surprise myself

Toed-in, crouched over flagrant whiskeys

Fingers curled over chin and cigarette

And I have to leave the room.