Art McCooey: [Kavanagh]

I must appeal to proper Kavanagh scholars who may explain why the poet dedicated the following to his predecessor poet of our region, Art McCooey. The collection ‘A Soul for Sale‘ was published in the year of my birth by Macmillan. Other poems in this anthology were similarly dedicated to those who went before.

For certain, the reluctant emigrant – who constitutes the greater part of our readership – will find common cause with many of the verses below!


Art McCooey


I recover now the time I drove

Cart-loads of dung to an outlying farm –

My foreign possessions in Shancoduff –

With the enthusiasm of a man who sees life simply.


The steam rising from the load is still

Warm enough to thaw my frosty fingers.

In Donnybrook in Dublin ten years later

I see that empire now and the empire builder.


Sometimes meeting a neighbour

In country love-enchantment,

The old mare pulls over to the bank and leaves us

To fiddle folly where November dances.


We wove our disappointments and successes

To patterns of a town-bred logic:

‘She might have been sick… No, never before,

A mystery, Pat, and they all appear so modest.’


We exchanged our fool advices back and forth:

‘It easily could be their cow was calving,

And sure the rain was desperate that night…’

Somewhere in the mists a light was laughing.


We played with the frilly edges of reality

While we puffed our cigarettes;

And sometimes Owney Martin’s splitting yell

Would knife the dreamer that the land begets.


‘I’ll see you after Second Mass on Sunday.’

‘Right-o, right-o.’ The mare moves on again.

A wheel rides over a heap of gravel

And the mare goes skew-ways like a blinded hen.


Down the lane-way of the popular banshees

By Paddy Bradley’s: mud to the ankles;

A hare is grazing in Mat Rooney’s meadow:

Maggie Byrne is prowling for dead branches.


Ten loads before tea-time. Was that the laughter

Of the evening bursting school?

The sun sinks low and large behind the hills of Cavan,

A stormy-looking sunset.  ‘Brave and cool’.


Wash out the cart with a bucket of water and a wangel

Of wheaten straw. Jupiter looks down.

Unlearnedly and unreasonably poetry is shaped

Awkwardly but alive in the unmeasured womb.


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