Month: July 2014

WestWords Perfect Pair 14.07.2014

Irish language poet, reporter and editor Michael Davitt was born in Cork in 1950.   He worked as a reporter and presenter at RTE in the 80s and in 1994, he won the Butler Prize for Literature. Some of his dual-language collections include Selected Poems / Rogha Dánta and The Oomph of Quicksilver. He died in Sligo in 2005.  In light of current events in the middle-east I feel this poem is timely, highly emotive and unflinchingly honest.  This is:

O My Two Palestinians

by Michael Davitt

(18/9/82, having watched a news report

on the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut )

I pushed open the door
enough to let light from the landing
on them:

blankets kicked off
they lay askew
as they had fallen:

her nightgown tossed above her buttocks
blood on her lace knickers,
from a gap in the back of her head

her chicken brain retched on the pillow,
intestines slithered from his belly
like seaweed off a rock.

liver-soiled sheets,
one raised bloodsmeared hand.
O my two Palestinians rotting in the central heat.

Ó Mo Bheirt Phailistíneach

Bhrúigh mé an doras
oiread a ligfeadh solas cheann an staighre
orthu isteach:

na héadaí leapa caite díobh acu
iad ina luí sceabhach
mar a thiteadar:

a gúna oíche caite aníos thar a mása
fuil ar a brístín lása,
as scailp i gcúl a cinn

a hinchinn sicín ag aiseag ar an bpiliúr,
putóg ag úscadh as a bholgsan
mar fheamainn ar charraig,

ae ar bhraillín,
leathlámh fhuilthéachta in airde.
Ó mo bheirt Phailistíneach ag lobhadh sa teas lárnach.


WestWords Perfect Pair 04.07.2014

Lucian Blaga was a Romanian poet, philosopher and playwright, born in Transylvania in 1895. He did not speak any words until he was four and in his poem Self-Portrait he describes himself : Lucian Blaga is silent like a swan. A personal favourite, this is:

By Lucian Blaga

Such a deep silence surrounds me, that I think I hear
moonbeams striking on the windows.

In my chest,
a strange voice awakens
and a song plays inside me
a longing that is not mine.

They say that ancestors, dead before their time,
with young blood still in their veins,
with great passion in their blood,
with the sun still burning in their blood
come to continue to live
within us
their unfinished lives.

Such a deep silence surrounds me, that I think I hear
moonbeams striking on the windows.

O, who knows, soul of mine, in which chest you will sing
you also, after centuries,
in soft ropes of silence,
on harps of obscurity – the drowned longing
and the pleasure of living torn? Who knows?
Who knows?


WestWords Perfect Pair 03.07.2014


Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donoghue was born in Co. Clare in 1956, He was ordained as a Catholic priest, but left the priesthood in the 1990s. He is probably best known, as author of Anam Cara or Soul Friend, a compendium of Celtic wisdom for the pilgrim soul. He passed away unexpectedly in early 2008. From Connemara Blues, this is: 

By John O’Donoghue

Nothing can make the night stay outside,
It pours in everywhere, smothers my room
With black air prepared in some unseen cave,
Tightens around my skull the root silence
Of that room in rock; nothing broke the dark
Except the tick of raindrops from above;
Centuries seeping through the limestone
To point a cold finger of stalactite
At emptiness never softened by breath;
Where the sore of absence was never felt
In cold that fasted solid from light,
A hermit space that let in no question.

This dark is all eyes; but cannot feel
How it blackens the breath and the heart.
It weighs me down as it would a stone.




WestWords Perfect Pair 02.07.2014

Irish poet and novelist, Patrick Kavanagh was born in Co. Monaghan in 1904. His rural background was reflected in his first volume of poems, The Ploughman and Other Poems published in 1936 by Macmillan to critical acclaim. A writer with a great awareness and mastery of language this is:

By Patrick Kavanagh

The bicycles go by in twos and threes –
There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn tonight,
And there’s the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.

I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.

WestWords Perfect Pair 01.07.2014

Anglo-American poet Anne Stevenson was born in Cambridge and brought up and educated in Michigan, she returned to the UK in 1954. She has published numerous volumes of poetry, including Granny Scarecrow, The Collected Poems, 1955-1995, and Correspondences. Stevenson is also author of two critical studies of Elizabeth Bishop and a biography of the American poet Sylvia Plath, Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 1989. This is:

By Anne Stevenson

You gave and gave,
And now you say you’re poor.
I’m in your debt, you say,
And there’s no way to repay you
But by my giving more.

Your pound of flesh is what you must have?
Here’s what I’ve saved.

This sip of wine is yours,
This sieve of laughter. Yours,
Too, these broken haloes
From my cigarette, these coals
That flicker when the salt wind howls
And the letter box blinks like a loud
Eyelid over the empty floor.

I’ll send this, too, this gale between rains,
This wild day. Its cold so cold
I want to break it into panes
Like new ice on a pond; then pay it
Pain by pain to your account.
Let it freeze us both into some numb country!
Giving and taking might be the same there.
A future of measurement and blame
Gone in a few bitter minutes.