paul durcan

WestWords Perfect Christmas Pair

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Contemporary Irish Poet, Paul Durcan was born in 1944 in Dublin, he grew up both there, and in Turlough, Co. Mayo. He studied Law at UCD and Archaeology at UCC and has been publishing his poetry since the late 1960s. Durcan won the Whitbred Poetry Prize in 1990 and has collaborated with musicians Michael O’Suilleabhain and Van Morrison. He is also a member of Aosdana, an honorary membership of living artists established by the Arts Council in 1981. A winter favourite, its:

GOING HOME TO MAYO, WINTER 1949
By Paul Durcan

Leaving behind us the alien, foreign city of Dublin
My father drove through the night in an old Ford Anglia,
His five-year-old son in the seat beside him,
The rexine seat of red leatherette,
And a yellow moon peered in through the windscreen.
‘Daddy, Daddy,’ I cried, ‘Pass out the moon,’
But no matter how hard he drove he could not pass out the moon.
Each town we passed through was another milestone
And their names were magic passwords into eternity:
Kilcock, Kinnegad, Strokestown, Elphin,
Tarmonbarry, Tulsk, Ballaghaderreen, Ballavarry;
Now we were in Mayo and the next stop was Turlough,
The village of Turlough in the heartland of Mayo,
And my father’s mother’s house, all oil-lamps and women,
And my bedroom over the public bar below,
And in the morning cattle-cries and cock-crows:
Life’s seemingly seamless garment and gorgeously rent
By their screeches and bellowings. And in the evenings
I walked with my father in the high grass down by the river
Talking with him – an unheard of thing in the city.

But home was not home and the moon could be no more outflanked
than the daylight nightmare of Dublin city:
Back down along the canal we chugged into the city
And each lock-gate tolled our mutual doom;
And railings and palings and asphalt and traffic-lights,
And blocks after blocks of so-called ‘new’ tenements –
Thousands of crosses of loneliness’s planted
In the narrowing grave of the life of the father;
In the wide, wide cemetery of the boy’s childhood.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

 

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