Month: May 2015

‘… Let Us Hear The Purple Glens Replying’

This poetry/music choice was inspired by a weekend ambling the by-roads of the west and observing the remains of ancient structures, cottages and castles of a bygone age.  Buttercups, foxgloves and daisies lined the roads, way-marked by white-thorn, alder and rowan trees that gave rise to the great hills and mountains of the Maamturks, carpeted with purple heathers and grasses. I also walked part of The Western Way, a 179 km old pilgrimage route that begins in county Galway and ends in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo.  So the enduring themes of tradition, heritage, ancestry and legacy became all the more comprehensible when I visited the sixteenth century Aughnanure Castle on the shores of Lough Corrib.  The fairly well preserved castle, which translates as Field of the Yews, was built for defensive purposes by the ferocious O’Flaherty clan of Galway and forms part of the backdrop for the 2012 amateur production by Cast Iron Films, No Eye To Pity Her, a portrayal of the Cromwellian occupation of Ireland starring my brother Paul! (trailer here)
Born in Lincolnshire in 1809, Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of the most popular poets in the English language. Among his major poetic achievements are the elegy mourning the death of his friend Arthur Hallam, In Memoriam (1850) and the patriotic poem Charge of the Light Brigade published in Maud (1855).  Tennyson died in 1892 and was buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. This is:
from The Princess: The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The splendour falls on castle walls
                And snowy summits old in story:
         The long light shakes across the lakes,
                And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
         O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
                And thinner, clearer, farther going!
         O sweet and far from cliff and scar
                The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
         O love, they die in yon rich sky,
                They faint on hill or field or river:
         Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
                And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

WestWords Perfect Pair!

A forgotten gem from my show about Mirrors & Reflections: Scottish poet, Doctor and performer Gael Turnbull. Born in Edinburgh in 1928, he grew up in the North of England and in Canada. He founded the Migrant Press in 1957 which featured many transatlantic poets. His books include: A Gathering Of Poems and Rattle Of Scree and his collected poems There Are Words was published by Shearsman Books in 2006. He was a prolific writer and was read by a wide circle of Admirers. He died in Herefordshire in 2004. This is:
By Gael Turnbull

It was as if she couldn’t know herself. Only other persons could
Do that. When she searched for her image, there was always the
Reminder: one green eye, one brown. Her mother had tried to
Reassure that it made her attractive, interesting, that it was an asset,
Not a defect

Which wasn’t what troubled, or even the lack of symmetry, but that
when she looked in the mirror, she was always reversed, with her
Green eye on the left, her brown on the right. Only others saw her
As she was. Only others might make the affirmation, ‘You are’. For
Her, it was always the reflection, ‘Am I?’

Rituals, Routines, Secrets And Chairs.

Interesting article by Sarah Bannan in the Irish Times yesterday about the writing ritual.  From Gavin Corbett’s 18 cups of tea (the bladder control!) to Christine Dwyer Hickey’s bribery plates;  writers of every genre have adopted all manner of clever tricks and stratagems to prepare for the writing day or night or museful couple of hours.

My time used to be a bit like Sarah’s: 4/5am.  There’s something both magical and uncanny about the hours before dawn; the house is so quiet and the secrets in the shadows are too useful to miss. I’ve been sleeping-in a lot lately so, no, will-power completely out the window!  So what’s your ritual?  A meditation, an old pen, comfy seat cushion, bowlful of Brazil nuts and an over-ripe banana? You can read Sarah Bannan’s article here and also check out Timothy Pike’s blog for more writing wisdom.


A little bit of love for Ireland on our big day!

From Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

(trans. by Stephen Tapscott)

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Poetry At The Movies by WestWords

Relationship between literature and film features e e cummings, W H Auden and Jane Kenyon along with music from Diana Krall, Michael Nyman and Stina Nordenstam.

Love Of A Princess from Braveheart – James Horner

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled by e e cummings; I Remember You – Diana Krall

Silence by Thomas Hood; Piano Lesson from The Piano – Michael Nyman

Spontaneous Me by Walt Whitman; Opus One from The Notebook – Sy Oliver

Funeral Blues by W H Auden; Little Star from Romeo & Juliet – Stina Nordenstam

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimmage by Lord Byron; Love Theme from Bridges Of Madison County – Lennie Niehaus & Clint Eastwood

Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon; Back To The World from Life Of Pi – Mychael Danna

Many Of Horror from Transformers – Biffy Clyro