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Tag Archives Ireland

SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The plaque has been placed high onto the front wall

of a terraced house in the street next to ours –

and is, in effect, a terracotta tile,

roughly a foot-and-a half by a foot,

with a raised border, and lettering

and numerals probably executed

by a gravestone mason, who maybe lived there.

The date inscribed is 1872 –

the words, first in English and then in Welsh,

‘Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v’.

 

When the railways came in the 1850s

bringing the London-Holyhead line,

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THE MERMAID’S PURSE

For Evie Chapman

 

She fetches me a mermaid’s purse she has found

among the seaweed where the sand

meets the mound of pebbles the waves have built

and rebuilt over the centuries.

The small black pouch, with tendrils like broken straps

and firm as dried leather, is an empty

egg case, from which a shark or a ray hatched

on the seabed, probably between here

and Ireland. Tides detached and chance brought

this empty womb,

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2019

‘O what fine thought we had because we thought

That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.’

NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETEEN, W.B. Yeats

 

Where the four main thoroughfares of our erstwhile

Roman city meet, a many-legged dragon,

in vivid gold and red, curved and reared, to gongs,

drums, fire crackers on a February day.

Dancers whirled long white ribbons, a whorl

of streamers like a wild, wispy sky.

This was the year of the omnivorous Pig,

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A WINNING HAND

We met on the first working day of the week;

married, five years later, on a Saturday;

and sailed for Ireland on the Sunday.

This Monday marks fifty two years of mostly

wedded bliss; occasional toilsome woe;

loving; giving; hard work; grace – a pack of cards

without, for the most part, the jangling jokers.

 

Out of the grassy plains, along the Silk Road

from Samarkand, came the colours of

anarchy, of power and passion; came

the four corners of the world,

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GOLDEN

As luck would have it, we were married this day

exactly half a century ago.

We holiday with our small family

to avoid the inevitable party

and announce our golden wedding to friends

via Facebook – and receive some humbling

encouragements that speak not simply

of being there like pebbles as the tide

ebbs and flows but of inspiration.

 

We chose to honeymoon by Bantry Bay.

Ireland spoke of mystery and romance –

to us ignorant of its privations.

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LESS THE PRICE OF THE MEDAL

Felicia Hemans

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

In 1962, the year the Pope excommunicated Fidel Castro

and the USA and USSR went toe-to-toe,

I won the Felicia Hemans’ prize for lyric poetry,

open to students and alumni of the University of Liverpool.

 

Mrs Hemans, born in Liverpool, but living

most of her life in North Wales, a best selling poet,

a child prodigy, a prolific adult, whose work

was admired by Wordsworth and Landor,

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SAPPHIRE

We came here first maybe fifty years ago –

Porth Trecastell aka Cable Bay

(on Ynys Môn aka Anglesey) –

a small Iron Age hill fort on one headland,

a Neolithic grave on the other,

and a telephone cable to Ireland

in between. This bank holiday the bay

is busy – paddlers, bathers, canoeists.

 

In the gated burial chamber –

Barclodiad y Gawres, which translates,

‘the full apron of the giantess’ –

its prehistoric graffiti secured

against vandals,

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THE EMBRACE OF NOTHING



i

Rome’s legionnaires quarried its sandstone cliffs

and Ptolemy put the Dee on the map.

William the Conqueror, in winter,

force-marched his army over the Pennines

to reach the river and waste the town – the last

to submit.  For eighteen years, Prince Gryfyd

ap Cynan, shut in the keep, heard only

the river’s voice, dyfrdwy, dyfrdwy.

Parliament’s forces sent fire rafts downstream

to purge besieged citizens. On its banks,

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THE EMBRACE OF NOTHING

Chester, View from a Balloon, John McGahey, 1855

i

Rome’s legionnaires quarried its sandstone cliffs

and Ptolemy put the Dee on the map.

William the Conqueror, in winter,

force-marched his army over the Pennines

to reach the river and waste the town – the last

to submit.  For eighteen years, Prince Gryfyd

ap Cynan, shut in the keep, heard only

the river’s voice, dyfrdwy, dyfrdwy.

Parliament’s forces sent fire rafts downstream

to purge besieged citizens.

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