Poem for Niamh

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Niamh

 

Some hours ago the water fell

To christen you, to work its spell

And wipe your slate, we hope for good

But now your life is sleep and food

Which, with our love will, by your leave

Suffice you now, our darling Niamh.

 

This happy birth, two thousand years

Our harbinger of peace, endears

Weaves webs of steel to bind our hearts

A laser light to pierce the dark

Darling child, my dream come true

We celebrate this day for you.

 

Ravelling strands of families mesh

In love knots of two minds, one flesh

Our future’s not our own, we’ll weave

An in-law maze, we’ll nod and wave

With trust: and silently we’ll pray

 

So this is a billet-doux to say

That on this warm mid-summer’s day

Cradled on my lawn you lay

While all around the raucous sound

Of laughter echoed in the mind

Your loved ones celebrate with food

Your birth in Christ at Cherrywood.

 

Our journey through this life, this fate

Ordained as by a friendly state

From Avenue to leafy meadow

Track of forebears, free from sorrow

Come and join our happy throng

We’ve waited for you for so long.

 

 

Read morePoem for Niamh

The Second Coming – W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

It’s apposite to our present age – though previous, and probably future generations thought the same. Surely Britain and Ireland, and more so, America are currently in a political and cultural turmoil, where those who screamed loudest for a return of ‘control’ have demonstrated their inability to exercise even self-control: the falcon cannot hear the falconer; the falconer has an agenda of his own, which bears little relationship to the needs of the masses.

No government has a concrete agenda to control global warming and no means to enforce one, were they to turn their minds to it.

What is the nature of that ‘rough beast’ slouching to Bethlehem to be born?

Who knows? But cataclysm is at hand.

The Quest… by Robert Service

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I sought Him on the purple seas,
I sought Him on the peaks aflame:
Amid the gloom of giant trees
And canyons lone I called His name;
The wasted ways of earth I trod;
In vain; in vain! I found not God.

I sought Him in the hives of men,
The cities grand, the hamlets grey,
The temples old beyond my ken,
The tabernacles of today;
All life that is, from cloud to cloud
I sought … Alas!  I found not God.

Then after roamings far and wide,
In streets and seas and deserts wild,
I came at last to stand beside
The death-bed of my little child,
Lo! As I bent beneath the rod
I raised my eyes … and there was God.

The photo above is of His Holiness the Pope, with Dr John McAreavey, then Bishop of Dromore – a man destroyed by Steven Nolan, may God forgive him.

The Classical Greek

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The Classical Greek

Come sit down a while, and I’ll tell you a story
Recall famous glories and honour the dead
And hope that a smile will crack all of your faces
And cares and all worries go out of your head.
I’ll sing of some lads with exceptional qualities
All of them geniuses, truly unique
And a gambler who’d bet the last bill in his wallet
Would wager I’d sing of the Classical Greek.

Of philosophy mighty and pure cogitation
There’s none can compare with the Classical Greek
If thinking were drinking and jollification
An ocean of booze would have lasted a week.
Democritus, Plato and good auld Pythagoras
Socrates, Zeno, Prothagoras too
Don’t forget Aristotle, his blood should be bottled
Fair play to the whole philosophical crew.

Euripides wrote of the gods and goddesses
In sagas and dramas, their story he told
Their virtues and vices, eclectic devices
In mead and hot spices, the tale would unfold.
One girl who worked in the shipyard, called Helen
A brazen aul hussy, when all’s said and told
When she’d launched all those ships
For the bold Trojan heroes
She gave of her all to sweet Paris of old.

Now Homer composed a poetical potion
Of versification, the best in the world
He junxtaposed Greek with athletical Trojan
And to the equation he added a ‘ghowl’
He called it The Iliad, rhyming until he had
Filled up his brain with a ten-gallon hat
When he started The Odyssey, friends said, My God is he
Going to remember a mouthful like that!

Now Hippocrates surely the first of physicians
Gave medical science a shot in the arm
A doctor he said must obey one condition
Whatever you do, don’t you do any harm
His mother was proud of his fine occupation
Beguiling the thoughts of his friends far and near
But he secretly grieved that his earthly duration
Preceded the Golf Club by two thousand years.

Here’s a health to this classical civilization
May songs in its honour forever be sung
May each singer receive a standing ovation
And glorification from each leather lung
From an Age of pure gold reflecting its brilliance
Soon we have told the whole adventure plot ..
Though genius infected those Greeks by their millions
Not one healthy arm graced …THE WHOLE SORRY LOT !

Read moreThe Classical Greek

Pangur Ban

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Pangur Ban

‘I and Pangur Ban my cat
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to the mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thoughts set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love.

So in peace our tasks we ply
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I:
In our arts we find our bliss
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.’

translated from a ninth century Irish poem

Modern Life

In the bygone days of yore
Life was slower – that’s for sure
Everything was in its place
God in heaven, no rat race

In the home, a nuclear family
Mum and dad and baby Emily
He’d help her and they’d be happy
Though he’d never change that nappy!

Dad worked hard to earn our fare
Mum was kindly – always there
In the corner Gran would sit
She’d fix and mend and sew and knit.

Grandpa from his rocking chair
Tobacco smoke would fill the air –
Would tease the kids, with twinkling eye
Just fall asleep then, bye and bye.

***************************

Modern life has changed all that!
Grandma’s lost her shawl and hat
Walking stick flung out the door
She’s ready for some fun – and more!

‘Who’s the gal in boots and leather?’
‘That’s your gran, you silly fella!’
She’s found a brand new lease of life
Burning rubber, free from strife.

Oftentimes she’s in the gym
Exercising to keep slim
Climbing mountain, bouldering river
Grandpa hardly sees her – ever!

Reading, writing, drawing, painting
She’d try the patience of a saint in
Heaven. Nothing now can stop or block her
I think my grandma’s off her rocker!

Meg Merriles

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Old Meg she was a gypsy
And lived upon the moors
Her bed it was the brown heath turf
And her house was out of doors.

Her apples were swart blackberries
Her currants, pods of broom
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose
Her book, a churchyard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills
Her sisters, larchen trees –
Alone with her great family
She lived as she did please.

No breakfast had she many a morn
No dinner many a noon
And ‘stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the moon.

But every morn of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding
And every night the dark glen yew
She wove, and she would sing.

And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited mats of rushes
And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.

Old Meg was brave as any queen
And tall as Amazon
An old red blanket coat she wore
A straw hat she had on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere –
She died, full long agone!