Proinnsias

Proinnsias

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Poems Published

Select a poem from the panel on the right.


Many of the poems posted in this blog to date are now published, in revised and improved versions, in Krunchie's new book Someone Else's Poem (Kindle and Paper-back versions):



Monday, 31 December 2018

A Ghost, a Memory and a Welch Mortgage

I am moved to revisit my last posted poem, "Abandoned by the Dead," to include a phrase that was used in the dream state from which it sprang, but omitted in my initial recollection, the words "Let it Be," uttered by a ghost that I had heard of.

Much, (some say all), of what dreams throw up is "noise" from the recent activities of our mind. In the case of this poem, it follows from my commencing the reading a book on bereavement, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. In my dream world, the book caused the revival of memories of my own bereavements and memories of people who have passed over. The phrases "Devil the hair I care," and "Sorrow the one of them," are phrases, deriving indirectly from the Irish language, used by the old people, that are seldom heard now. "Devil the one," and "Sorrow the one," both mean "Not one."

Here is a recent ghost story, awakened in this dream activity. I have changed the names, because nothing is added by recounting the true names.

Paddy married Nellie, who owned a house and a small piece of land. They lived happily for several years on the land, but had no children. When Nellie died, she left the house and land to Paddy for his life and after his death to her nephew. Paddy grew old and feeble. One year, his cow died and then his donkey. Instead of  re-stocking, he allowed his nephew, Jack, to amalgamate the land with Jack's own farm, and was supplied with his food and necessities by Jack.

Paddy always dressed very well, and, when he died, it was found that he had been supplied with suits and clothes on tick for many years by a shop in town. Welch mortgages have been a feature of farming life in Ireland. When a farmer was unable to pay his debt to the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper would get a court order for the recovery of the money owed. If the money was not paid, the shopkeeper would take possession of the house and land. This device was used widely by shopkeepers to extend their own land-holdings, particularly in dealing with old people. To avoid the shopkeeper taking the land, Jack paid off his uncle's debt. He also paid his funeral expenses, which are a considerable burden on a small holding.

Next, Nellie's nephew, who was legally entitled to the house and land on the death of Paddy, returned and took possession of the land. Jack thought he had some claim to the property, because he had looked after Paddy in his feeble years and had paid off his debts and funeral expenses. However, one day, as he was going past the  house, his dog took fright, and, looking up, he saw Paddy's ghost, neatly dressed as ever. The ghost said "Let it Be," and then disappeared. Jack understood the ghost to mean that he should not raise a dispute with Nellie's nephew, the new owner.



Saturday, 29 December 2018

Posts and Edits

I post poems on this blog as they come to me.

Generally speaking, a poem comes to me  at night, or is in my head as I wake up, and I post it, if at all, as soon as may be after waking. Inevitably, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Kubla Khan, there is a feeling that there is something missing from the recollected version, or the dream version has to be re-crafted to give body to what is recalled as vague bits and pieces. Over time, the poem is often improved.

If you were to view the papers of, for example, W B Yeats, you would see how poems are re-shaped with edits over a period of time. Edited by hand, the changes are visible in manuscript. Since I post my new creations directly here, and edit on the fly, my edits are, in fact, invisible, except when, occasionally, I keep a copy on my home computer.

I post these thoughts today having just edited the poem I posted yesterday: Abandoned by the Dead.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Abandoned by the Dead


We are abandoned by the dead.
They leave us all alone-eo.
They hint there's nothing to be said,
Save that we must soon come over-o.

They care not about anything at all on earth,
Forgetting now what made them tick;
Equal are failure and success,
Striving no better to them than drift.

About our ambitions or problems now,
Devil the hair they care;
Disinterest registers in their eyes,
And into space they stare.

It's not, "It no longer matters", but,
"It never mattered at all".
Once you step over the boundary,
It is not worthy to recall.

“Killarney” means naught but “cell of the haw.”
They rove around without laugh or cry.
When we call the names of those now gone,
Sorrow the one of them will reply.

Still we chew upon the pie,
Though hard is the over-bakéd crust,
And the over-shelféd fruit is dry:
We might as well chew upon the dust!

We are abandoned by the dead.
But one thing that they cry out, all,
With one almighty, shout of dread,
Is that we will soon come over-o.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ard Hessly

This song came to me in a dream, described in my Dream Diary. It refers to a historic event, where an enthusiastic priest, in Cromwell's time, raised a rabble army and marched them foolishly into a valley of death. However, the name "Ard Hessly" was a concoction of the dream and not the name of a real place. It can be sung to the air of "Only our rivers run free."

Welcome, men, to Ard Hessly,
Whose priests, holy men of the cloth,
Will lift your faith to a frenzy,
And all for the glory of God.

For the glory of God and  for Ireland,
They'll raise your spirits so high,
You'll arm with poor home-made weapons,
And march into battle to die.

You  will join the priests' rabble army
And march down the valley to death,
Entrapped by Cromwell's grim army,
Which will encircle you in its net.

The net will close in around you,
Leaving no route of escape.
They'll slaughter you with sharp weapons,
And then all your women will rape.

Woe to the priests of Ard Hessly,
Who've wasted the best of our men,
Who could have learned war in the mountains,
And then fought for Ireland again,

And again.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Some thirty lads

There were some thirty lads inspired
With a great and good desire
To set the world on fire
And restore the human soul.

They would fly across the oceans
With great and noble notions
To spread faith and devotion
              To folk on foreign shore.

They would humbly show great patience
And rise to the highest station
To steer the Irish nation
              To the realm of gold.

In lay and medical sciences
They would be triumphant
The great way forward pointing
              To a world of more and more.

They would represent the nation
On foreign land and station
Steering good investment
              Onto Ireland’s shore.

And, as for mathematics,
The world they soon would dazzle
Expounding mighty axioms
              Understood by few.

Now these thirty blokes are beaten:
Their highest goal is eating,
Or, with walking sticks so feebly,
              To hobble round the zoo.


While a response to a poetry spate set off by a class-mate of the 1961 OCS Leaving Cert class, in response to a proposal for a class trip to Dublin Zoo, led by a member who recently "had a hip done," this poem came to me in a dream, on my 75th birthday.
In my dream, Saint Malachy, a self-flagellant and fanatic reformer, now back from Rome and officially the Pope’s Nuncio, is resolved, despite being old and hoary (he is seventy five), to stamp out clerical flamboyance and self-indulgence. He will promote chastity, poverty and clerical celibacy and denounce the inheritance of bishoprics and abotries, and bring the Irish church under Rome's jurisdiction by imposing St Peter's Pence.
He comes to Wexford and attends a service in the monastery. He would like the monks to be dressed in well-worn brown habits, but they wear magnificent cream and black outfits. He would like them to sing anonymously from the back of the church, but they display themselves proudly up beside the altar. He would like them to sing plain chant, but they sing my song magnificently in four parts.
I have captured the jist of the words, not as magnificent as in the dream and omitting some lost verses, but the music now escapes me.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Hallowe'en Dance



Father, mother
And my own dear brother,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Father, mother,
              And my own dear brother,
Dancing, singing
              Till the light of dawn.

                        Will you stay?
Will you stay?
Will you stay and join me,
Dancing, singing,
Till the light of dawn.
(Repeat)

Granny, granddad,
              Those who went before you,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Granny, granddad,
              Those who went before you,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

All good neighbours,
              In their generations,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
All good neighbours,
              In their generations,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

All good spirits
              Gathering together,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
All good spirits
              Gathering together,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

Smiling, laughing,
              Feasting and drinking,
Dancing, singing,
              Till the light of dawn.
Smiling, laughing,
              Feasting and singing,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                            Will you stay? Etc.

Father, mother,
              And my own dear brother,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Father, mother,
              And my little brother,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

Will you stay?
Will you stay?
Will you stay and join me,
Dancing, singing,
Till the light of dawn.
(Repeat twice)