THE TRIBE OF EARTH

SELECTED POEMS

The notion of the Tribe of Earth as presented in these poems represents a fresh identification regarding the drives, actions and rituals of the human race. The collection, in four parts, is the twin of a parallel philosophical work, the possession of Being,- not of a Being, which represents a fresh identification of the great unresolved problem of the Being of beings.
This dynamic of the possession of Being absorbs all previous assertions regarding the ultimate human urge, human drive, by psychoanalyists and psychotherapists. It presents scope for totally fresh themes of art, specifically poetry and demands a return to strict lyricism and form. Accordingly I do not write so satisfy intellect or emotion or any other conventional mode of individual human drive or aspiration- or to notions of a sense of place wbut appeal to the total identity of the person presented in this notion of the posession of Being,
This identification also gives formal identity to the notion of art and presents it as the creation of a mould of aceess to a specific experience of Being, and sililarly identifies such notions as that of beauty, truth, love and meaning.
There are four sections in this overall collection, each related to specific aspects of the Tribe of Earth. The opening section, Sellected Verse, is a series of lyrical poems referring to the drives of nature in the light of the new identification, to the frailty of reason in confronting what is termed the human possession of Being and which is at once the source of all conflict and of all creativity. It includes three fantasia poems related to W.B. Yeats, Michael Collins and Patrick Kavanagh where the notion of fantasia represents the opening up of hidden aspirations and possibilities of a life. Another theme in this first section is the presentation of a fresh and central role for Ireland in the image of the monastic age 5th to 9th century when Ireland was last a world centre of intellect and art. The identificatin of the Being of beings represents the basis of a Fifth Age following the Four Ages of the Ireland of the Light, that is, the raising of the early monuments, the monastic age, the cultural and artistic Restoration in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the Imperium Hibernium- the immense Irish emigrant contribution to world civilization over the past two centuries.

The second section is a presentation of the notion of the Logos culminating in the illuminations of the book of Kells which is presented as the supreme universal artistic affirmation of the Logos. This is an open book of a term so to speak involving a long history of interpretation from its basic understanding as word, reason, plan. It is often presented as an ordering of things, a putting of form on the world around us, shaping a reality on existence, the unity of human experience, the rational and spiritual principle, a physical affirmation of existence and so on. A specific understanding from this Greek term is the Latin Verbum, English Word, specifically regarding the gospel of St John where Christ is presented as the Logos, the Word of God, that is, the presence of God in the world.
This section presents a series of poems dramatizing the origin of the spoken word in the marriage of verb and noun, the creating of an alphabet out of the oral tradition leading to the written word, the creation of the velum and gathering of the inks and pigments for the monastic illuminations.
The third section contains the direct Tribe of Earth poems where the notion of evolution is removed from its conventional entrenchment as a strict scientific theory and re set in the wider realm of the Being of beings, that is, in its authentic reality as a vast spiritual pilgrimage. These poems depict the immense creative process involved in this regard, along with the related dynamic of human creativity and its parallel destructiveness.
The forth section, A Book of Meditations, represents a series of very short, condensed poems.
One of the main inspirational factors taht led to these two related was the sound of the Uillean Pipes from my eariest memories as played by my father, notably the slow airs and the octave rise as I worked to make sense of its effect on me,worked to find answers to the mode of an endless calling.

CONTENTS.
And Being is my theme.
The Musicians
The Jotter
Titanic
Yeats in Purgatory
The Child
The Journey
Villanelle
The Farewell
The Try
Sellafield,
I speak the Ireland of the Light
Causeway.
If there be no resurrection
The Blind Piper.
Canticle of Birth
The English,
At Dawn the Guns’ll bark
I have lived throughout this surging time
I met with Collins in his old days.
Second Coming
The Thaw
Newcomers
Irish Pipers leard your Trade
The Monuments
Kavanagh Fantasia
The Fear
Isolation.
Navan Fort
Mercator
Wings
Acupuncture
I have nothing for your grief but my song
Sometimes I long to be
Farewell aul heart
Himalaya Visit.
The Piper of Fair Head
O swan up our gentle waters.
That you be named among the names.
Bannockburn
Irish pipers know your trade.
The mist is on Slieve Gullion.

AND BEING IS MY THEME.
A declaration of moving away from all conventional themes and philosophies and their drained-out ways, and moving in the fresh flow of the possession of Being.
i
And Being is my theme.
Not that writhing, winding way
That tormented the ages’ quest
But the clear flow of a memory
Long hidden away, long lost.
I took up my two-fold travelling
From the earliest sounds heard,
The pipes and the chatting visitors
Downstairs in the room
And said, one day I will shape a chord
Of pure thought, of a book of song
To make ripe from those early risings
The inner, inner deep of things,
To write down the unwritten,
To sing the great unsung,
I’ll end old bleeding, heal old scars,
Remembering what was once known,
Remembering what the world forgot.
Then let us rise and face our star,
Rise out of the long, long wait
And move again, and take our steps
Into the heartland, into the core,
The flare of mid-winter morning,
The octave rise of the pipes.

ii
Farewell then to gyre and cycle,
Farewell footprints on the old roads
Fillers all of the great absence.
Farewell the spread of volumes
Following the ghost of art,
Farewell the Greek ancestors
Farewell then the Fathers,
Farewell all that landed there,
Farewell verse that followed there,
Farewell the great storms of thought
To find what can not be found.
Goodbye to that. Goodbye again.
Goodbye the stare of eastern ways
Goodbye the scientific dance
That raised their method into gods,
Fillers all of the great absence,
And now unknot, unravel, unwind,
Untwist, un-turn, un-wander,

iii
And that no longer. That no more.
The pallid hills, the pallid valley
As plough and harrow lie in rust
And soil drained of all offering.
Nor the cycles bring fresh tidings,
Nor all your rains and windborne ways,
Your spread of noon, your lengthening day
Arouse a stirring at a root,
Raise a greening shade or show.
But that no more and that no more,
That no longer, that no more,
*
And now into the tremor hour
Early flame and fanfare come
As the fresh, rich volcanic rush
Spill out of the molten core,
The fire-born purity appear,
And there in the air’s embrace
Spread the balm, spread the balm.
Now our fields gulp down their fill,
The flow of plenty sooth the vast drooth
And drone of sap, bass and tenor
Hum into the deep of the land.
*
And so return to the early flow,
And so move out again from there
Now full of the lost legacy,
Now replenished for the journey.
We tune our fiddle and pipe drones,
We tune the harp and clear the throat
And let lips open around the lines-
In dancing rain and dance of light,
Noon dance and the dance of dawn
Add fresh verses to the great song,
Make new chorus from the old refrain.


THE MUSICIANS
Recalling youthful listening to the visitors playing their traditional music in our house as I lay awake upstairs; memories of their ritual
and the migrating bir
ds.
I knew them in their arriving
At the back door and the gentle
Latch open, the slow feet stall
At the entrance to their gathering.
I remember once I arose a while
To sit with them in their circle

And the faces all lit with the rise
Of the hearth fire. No drum
Marked time nor bódhrán beat
Broke the lock on their eyes,
The bow arm pendulum,
And the heart pound of their feet.

I watched the piper in his blank stare
And finger dance along the chanter,
Maybe an hour sat by the drone
And the shadows of the hearth flame,
Maybe an hour, tune after tune
Until sleep aroused me into dream.

But they were gone, the music men
When I awoke to follow them,
The fiddlers gone, the piper gone,
And cold gathered to the ashes,
And cold gathered around their chairs
When I awoke in the empty room.

Yet late that day I knew I heard
Their stir of sound again, the cran
And shake, triplet and turn
In the gathering of migrating bird,
Call and circle, wheel and cry
Their wild fling in the sky.

Along the head-rig of a ploughed acre
Facing north in the north wind
I trail the skies to evening's shore
Until the darkness sets me blind.
And dawn, and day, by day, by dawn,
I'll wait, I'll watch for their return.


THE JOTTER
I once wrote a love poem about a young couple, and some years afterwards decided to give it a fresh edit, changing words and lines and so on. But I was so used to the original version that when I went to recite the new material the old kept intruding and would not go away. I then likened this experience to actual real life, that the couple had grown together into each other’s ways, into an ever deepening relationship and became inseparable with age, reacting very sharply to the attempt to separate them.

I returned to some old verse
In the middle pages of a jotter
About a lover and his lass
I had written there years before,

And after staring for a time
Ringed words to make a change,
Soften rhythm, soften rhyme,
Pluck, stitch, re arrange.

I read aloud and re read
The lines of my amendment,
But old words raised their head,
And jarred there, and broke my chant,

And noun recoiled and drew in
Its adjectives around it
As verb and preposition
Soured to my edit.

And when I went to read again
I found a fractured couplet,
And fresh lines broken down,
And fresh words thrown about.

I pulled and probed their clinging
To part one from the other,
The more I forced the editing,
The tighter clung together.

I stopped, erased my pencil scars,
Set the jotter in its place
And left them there, old lovers,
In their newly locked embrace.


TITANIC
A prophesy of the World Wars
to come in the rejection of the female by the
great male construction. The opening verse
depicts her birth in the Arctic from where she sought to form a bond of completion. But her
approaches were rejected in the surge
of male invincibility, and she
forced its destruction.

From the centre
Of the polar galaxy, her body forms.
Out of the spiral rims,
The immaculate, unbriny stars,
The slow, turning, winding layers
Raises up her arms.
Soon a descending figure
Will touch the arctic crown,
In the long twilight shimmer there
Stand under dusk and dawn.

After the forming came,
After she took that form
Followed toward the sounding heard
In rhyme and beat of the shipyard,
Followed the welding spark and flare.
The cast her out, they turned her away
At every rivet thrown and struck
As the great shape, belly and back,
Along the gantry, plate by girder
Raised its triumphant body.

Now she turns her head
Toward the watery void,
And on her solemn face,
And on her flowing mantle
A glow as the Aurora Borealis.
It is neither day light nor moon light,
Neither dusk light nor dawn light
And she, abiding her worth,
Remains motionless until
At the chosen hour
Steps from her place
Into the mist of Labrador,
And moves south.


YEATS IN PURGATORY
Fantasia in seven verses

The notion of a fantasia is presented here as a revealing of factors and possibilities that normally remain hidden because of the absence of a wider revealing dynamic, of a wider vision.
In this poem, voices tell of realities at stake above the conventional interpretations of the nature of art, in this case the identification of formal art as the possession of Being and experience of art presented as the notion of the aura. From this perspective, formal art is presented as oblation- the actual notion of purgatory in this fantasia.
The opening verse sets the scene in 1947 after the funeral procession by land and sea from France to Drumcliff and re interment, and where Yeats is welcomed home by the people and the elements of nature. But things suddenly shift as his spirit is confronted by a chorus telling him that his poetic affirmations are not an ultimate consummation of his life, but a mode of his possession of Being. This possession in life took on a human form and was inseparable from it. It is not, as he thought himself in his mortal life, the quest for the primordial memory of Nature, but for the primordial memory of Being- a very different factor.
He is told that the accompanying presentations of the gyres and various cycles, his identification of “a system” do not themselves have authentic integrity, but are of this wider mode of identification, that all verbal assertions such as in the supreme Upanishads created to present ultimate experience simply fail, and return to drone, that is, to abandonment, oblation. Yeats is told that the one who embodied his creative reach and journey is the actual reality and source of his ultimate mystical experience, and she can be reached only through the total purging of his verse, his means of arrival at this point of ultimate destiny. And so the pyre of his life's work is set ablaze and she rises out of the final flames of the dead verse.

Monochrome November. The church wall
And headstone set with the setting sun,
Grey flowers line the twilight soil,
The mourners and their prayers are gone.
Now moon and dusk are changing guard
As the dim arms of beech, of oak
Reach out to skies beyond the dead.
Above Ben Bulben stars awake,
Meteor and meteorite
From dark to dark streak the night.
*
And out of neither dark or day,
And out of neither void or place
Voices gather, spread their way,
Voices louden, thin and bass-
“Yeats! William Butler Yeats!
From these lips of flame we swear
With all that ripens, all that rots,
Your art is not of judgment here,
Your art is not a blossoming
That blooms verses for our song.
*
“That early hearing as a song-bird sound,
The first awakening, the first command
Of youth’s solemnity stirred your head
To seek a pen, and there she stood
And smiled and turned and moved away/
Into the mist from where she came.
Human or vision, twilight or full day,
A half awakening, a half dream,
You moved at once to step her road,
Left all things behind and followed.

*
“We watched on you, dream after dream
Where things gathered in the full of night
And told of deeper, wider rhyme
Commanding every line you wrote,
And told beyond your solemn reach,
Beyond the gyres, the cycles’ torch
A law resides not identified
In the quest of mind, in strain of blood,
And told from where the mind is risen,
From where the blood is come and gone.
*
“Those mysteries had been inviolate.
Theme after theme, scenting, scouting words
Sought out and shaped and yet
As the hum of the Upanishads,
As all those great intensities
The full of the east and west ways,
Verb and noun return to drone.
We said that all art is oblation,
We spoke the hour of the thorible,
The pyre waiting, the pyre’s call.”
*
Flame on flame the fires rise
And Yeats’ verse begins to burn.
The light dances on his lowered eyes
As colors flare from verb and noun,
As one by one the pages turn,
One by one the pages perish,
All the sap-full stanzas wane
Curl and shrivel, enter ash.
And ash is all. And the ashes cold.
It is death again. Still. All stilled-
*
As a bloom of lunar dawn
In the void of night, a shape appears.
Coming on the place where death had gone
It moves, brightening in its own light.
Half fire, half form, the steady flares
Allow a vague body to fill the sight
And all is wild again. All is wilder,
The dancing shade, the rounding face,
Features shaping in a flame’s stir,
Features forming out of the dead verse.


THE CHILD
A friend bereaved by an infant death
many years ago told me how he tried
to cope with the tragedy and asked
if I might commemorate his thoughts
in verse.

And even though we parted
Before your breath
Could form my name,
Even though your head
Never turned toward me
Nor heard the prayer I made
All that time ago,
My eyes still follow you,
I watched you grow with all the others
Down the years after,
School time and play time,
Departing and coming home
I heard your step, your laugh,
And you take your place
Around the table, and stand there
In the familyphotograph.
But watched you grow solemn
From time to time,
Your smile fall away
And your dark eyes lower,
Watched you grow solemn
As if now and again
You feared that I’d awake some day,
And find you gone.



THE JOURNEY
The poem relates to the universal trauma of grief, the experience of loss, living loss or the loss of one in death. It depicts the sufferer initially facing west into sunset following after what is gone. But sometime later, it speaks of an acceptance that they must turn and face the opposite direction and travel into the night, that what will not return from the West might be found in some new manner in the East. In keeping with this, the poem works to put such experiences into the perspective that the acceptance of the loss in all its realities uncovers and raises fresh enlightenment in the human dynamic. This is presented in an image of the eye of the owl, of hearing beyond the normal mode, of experiences of strange peace, a sense of oblation perhaps, a fresh calling to create comfort and belonging that while the grieving person seems to be no longer the person they once were, they are the exact same person in a different, elevated mode of experience.

I watched you facing the lowering west
As twilight waited on the rims of day.
I watched the evening pilgrimage,
You come and stand in solemn stare
At the distant parting of the dusk,
And a lone star come out to scout
And others follow, and fill the night.
And then one day you were not there.
I heard you’d turned, you moved away
And faced into the unknown land,
Faced eastward into the gloom,
And step by slow step entered there.
I heard that close to midnight
The dark had filled you to the core,
The dark had clotted, had set hard
Around all hope and plead and prayer
As you lowered there into the loss.
You lowered into the abyss.
That age went on. And on again.
The day not soften. Sleep not sooth.
But then, I heard that an owl’s eye
Had shaped a form in the formless void,
I heard of a brightening gathering
Where no warning told the hour
And a voice soft as a move of leaves
As one who never spoke before
Shape your name, shape your name,
And say in slow and gentle tone-

“That dawn of old will not again
Spread its light on your waking eye,

But day is here, and day is come
Out of the dark that held your hand,

And the one you were, you are no more.
And the one you are, you ever were.”

I WILL SET FIRE TO THE ETERNAL HILLS.
A Villanelle.
This poem refers to the effects of the work “The Possession of Being”in transforming the approach to the understanding of human destiny in a newly identified order. The term “eternal hills,” often “everlasting hills” is taken from a phrase in
the litany of the rosary and other litanies which go back to lines from Genesis (49.26) and Habukkuk (3.6) It is sometimes a reference to the wisdom of the prophets and patriarchs, or to the notion of
unsurpassed earthly duration –that of the hills- of which there is a greater divine duration. In the poem, “eternal” is preferred to “everlasting” because of the extra scope it gives regarding the ten syllable restriction in the lines of a villanelle.

I will set fire to the eternal hills,
I will strike light where nations roam the dark,
And young cries will linger, and old age calls

When I pronounce on early writs and wills.
And I will tremble limbs where wise men lurk,
I will set fire to the eternal hills.

And I will white the crows and black the gulls
And hang a red-breast on the rising lark,
And young cries will linger, and old age calls,

And even if clouds mount the blazing swells
And rains engorge the rivers in their wake,
I will set fire to the eternal hills

That all things spread anew, old broken tales
Break more, break down, fresh cracks fissure and fork,
And young cries will linger, and old age calls.

I will set fire to the eternal hills.
I will strike light where nations roam the dark.
And young cries will linger, and old age calls.
I will set fire to the eternal hills

THE FAREWELL
Requiem poem written for an uncle, Tommy Makem, and recited as the final farewell at his funeral, August 2007, Dover NH.

Farewell good Tommy
Earth and sky are calling.
Farewell fair and noble friend,
The parting hour
Has tolled its bell,
The parting hour is come
When we must turn
And set you free
Into the arms of eternity.

Farewell good friend, farewell.
Your deeds have changed us,
Your days have lived in us
That we must speak the flame they lit,
Our fullest thought, our deepest sigh-
What beat that heart
Will live forever,
What filled that mind
Can never die.

Farewell again, farewell.
And even though our heads are down,
Even though our grief is full,
The stirrings in us stir again,
The stirrings in us rise and say-
No dark can come upon you,
As you journey, as you move on,
Through the water of the sunset,
Into the milk of dawn.


THE TRY
A commemoration of a very special event in rugby history at Cardiff Arms Park on January 27 1973 between the Barbarians and the All Blacks. While the Babarians team contained famous players from Ireland, England and Scotland the poem presents the celebrated try as an apotheosis of Welsh Rugby, a single surge of exaltation. It is dedicated to Cliff Morgan, the father figure of the age and broadcaster of the event on the occasion. The term ynys afállon, roughly- the eternal land- is the name of a paradise in Welsh mythology. For the purpose of rhythm in the poem, a stress is on the second syllable. The term epiphany means a special dramatic showing or revelation.

And the moment appeared to Bennett,
The moment filled his step
That there, out of mine and valley,
Out of dream and song and dream
And the solemn deep of the Arms Park,
There, against the Kiwi masters
In the glow of Slattery and Willie John,
Carmichael, Duckham and Mc Loughlin,
Of Gibson, Bevan, Wilkinson
The great epiphany unfold.
*
And JPR take up the step
As the jig time move into reel,
And Pullin flow, and flare of Dawes,
David dancing into line
Into the ever speeding dance,
Quinnell arrive, and great rhythm,
Great rhythm and throb of feet,
And then- that all might fall away,
Something come to break the charm-
Edwards appear from his abode,
Edwards make the final rhyme
Like a falcon scooping its prey,
Move off beyond mortal touch,
And soar into Ynys afállon.


SELLAFIELD.
The dangers of Sellafield for the east coast areas of Ireland are presented as the specter of a Strongbow or Cromwell come again. Just when things are moving into new times, another invader is landing on our shores.

We scanned these seas for strangers
In the dawn sun, for foreign boat

Stared into fog, our sleepless ears
Sprung at shoreline sounds, our heart beat

Ready in the still night. Those waters
And their tidal ways lived among us,

Living ever there as the night of stars,
And we, full of this, full of song of verse

Still brood on a strange rhyme of oar,
The whispering of a speeding prow

That even now in our thankful prayer
At war's end, watching new things grow,

Moving out of long dreams
Have not reached "amen" before

Our voices drop, old faces and names
Enter with the prayerful stir,

Old dreading, old despair
In the tide and the wind and rain

Turning us to the conqueror,
Strongbow, Cromwell come again.

FAREWELL AUL HEART
Written in the 1965 in the local Derrynoose accent
at a time of imitating Burns, in memory of a neighbour who had turned eighty and who feared he was coming close to the end.

Farewell aul heart I’ve never seen
Yar batin pumpin face,
Farewell aul lungs, the same t’ you
An’ the way y’ run the race.
Ye’ wrought away for the foa score
Through the days rise an sinkin’,
Ye wrought away without a stap,
And niva lucked for thankin.’

An’ kidney twins- what ken I say?
The pair a ye at yar work,
Over the years ye drained away
More that wud would fill a lake.
An’ liver too, an’ faithful bowels,
How did yis keep it goin’?
Eighty long years of labour
And not once stapped the flowin.’
*
Farewell aul brain, farewell again
Ye kept all yar secrets well.
Ye niva let on what was happenin’
Away there in the deep a’ the skull.
But you were mine, and mine ye stayed
An sight and hearing all for free,
And all the thoughts and memories there-
Ye kept them just for me.
*
Farewell aul body I niva knew
That I was loved so dearly,
I never knew yar sarvant ways
That waited on me hourly,
An’ I niva knew, an’ I niva thought
The hour would come to grieve ye,
For it’s only now I’m tornin’ roun,’
T’ love ye, as ye lave me.

I SPEAK THE IRELAND OF THE LIGHT.
The four great Irish ages, the affirmations of the Ireland of the Light are presented here as follows.
1. The assertions at Bru Na Baoine regarding the stone arrangements, among the earliest organized affirmations of the possession of Being, from 2500 BC.
2. The monastic Age, 6-11th century, at home and abroad involving the centers at Bangor, Armagh and Clonmacnoise, the journeys to Europe and the founding of institutions of learning there. It also includes the supreme artistic creativity of such as the Book of Kells.
3. The Restoration. This refers in the last third of the nineteenth century regarding the re-establishment of Irish culture involving such as the Gaelic League, the formation of the GAA, the collections of Irish traditional music leading to the later formation of Comhaltas Ceolteori Eireann, the gathering of the myths and legends of Ireland, the creation of the National Theatre, the assertions of literature.
4. The Imperium Hibernium. The “Irish Empire” asserts the vast Irish contribution to world civilization over the recent centuries, through general emigration and formal missionary endeavor.
The projected Fifth Age, the age to come, relates to the authentic identification of the hitherto unresolved problem of the Being of beings as presented in the parallel work “The Possession of Being.” This transforms the understanding of what exists to be known and the knowing factor applied, that all human disciplines exist only of the wider dynamic of their Being. It also refers to the position that the natural mysticism and direct experience of the Being of beings enjoyed by the ancients has been distorted by philosophical and scientific theories because of the absence of Being in their affirmations.
The refrain represents a calling on the Fifth Age to enlighten the true meaning of the preceding Four and so create a new age of the Ireland of the Light and raise Ireland out of its modern drift into anonymity. The “two Greek chieftains” mentioned are Plato and Aristotle.

I speak the Ireland of the Light.
I speak the heart pound of the Four Ages.
From oldest times into these final days
I speak the pilgrim toilers, of all who wrote
And shaped and made their travel
Now watch on a spread of landing wings
The tidings of the fifth age come, reveal
To all the inner, inner deep of things,
And drúm béat múst soúnd agáin,
Ánd the gréat cáll bé heárd agáin,
And óld thíngs bé máde agáin
And óld thíngs bé dóne,
Óld thíngs bé máde agáin,
And óld thíngs bé dóne.

I think of Johannes Scotus+ chanting
His verse across the ninth century.
Though Greek of armor, the Irish soul
At last spilt out, drew west and east
Into its embrace. But in that song
Of the great returning told the way
Of an older memory, he the final,
Most lauded of that monastic feast.
And there the story moves. Did he know
More than those Boyne ancients knew?
*
I tell the primitive profundity.
I tell that pure unbroken memory
Before the muddy waters
Entered its pristine flow. These ancestors
Lived free born in their knowing state,
Lived out the natural mystical
Until the gods of reason sealed their fate,
Another Eden there, another Fall,
And drum beat must sound,
And the great call be heard,
And old things be made,
And old things be done.

*
Those two Greek chieftains in their vast brooding
Sought to trap the passion of their fathers,
One calling down, one raising outward
Gathering all the tuning to their chord.
And yet their verses made no final song,
No pole star turn the night of stars,
Guide to the deepest, closest hunger,
Nor all those who gathered after
On their themes unlock the secret,
Answer the noble toil, that noble sweat.
*
Be lured no more by an inner Cromwell
To purge the greatness in the kill,
Hang harper and piper again, we
Now on this drift into anonymity.
But let us listen with the other ear
To the rhyming voices of the Four-
“Old risings come again on the wind.
Old things in their blossomed way.
Then ready the body, ready the mind,
Ready your sails for another journey.”
*
All around us much is dying,
All around us much is over.
The proud old lands lead out no more,
Have slowed their dance, thinned their song,
But we who healed in far off times
Again bring tidings from the distant rims,
The new covenant, new heart pound come,
Re set, re sap, re flow, re bud, re bloom.
And drum beat must sound again,
And the great call be heard again,
And old things be made again
And old things be done.
Old things be made again.
And old things be done.


CAUSEWAY.
The Individual moved out of the
One and the return to the One

in the constant flow of memory
from day into dark.


Beyond the restless edges
Of the tectonic plates
Antrim’s form is cast and set.
Beyond the fracture lines
That woke up Alp and Himalaya,
The third, the final lava spill
Fulfilled all assertions.
At a place east of Dunluce
Its slowing motion darkened
Into the black clot,
Year on year after year
Cooling in the sun’s heat,
Warm in the cool of the moon.
*
And there, out from the solid depth
Faint sound as chanting came,
An ever loudening chorus sound
Rising pitch, racing scale
Broke out to its sky
In a final convulsion.
They face toward the ocean
Like seals crowded on a shore,
The face to the horizon
In their hexagonal wait
Century by century
At tidal wash and parting,
The forms of Antrim one by one
Gather back to the clot of dark,
Step forward into dawn.


IF THERE BE NO NEW REVELATION
One of two poems regarding identity in the modern world. It represents a distinctive call that Ireland- and the other old nations and peoples-have identity today only through giving the world something in intellect and art that the world does not have without them. Otherwise there is disintegration, and their history will have been in vain. The quotation in the poem “in vain do the builders build,” is a line from Psalm 127 which represents authenticity of inheritance and of putting order on the deepest human affirmations of existence.

If there be no new revelation
In vain do the builders build.
If after all that early stand
Of monk and scholar, verse and song
A rising shimmer not appear
And out of there, and stepping clear
By lough shore and random mountain
Figures move across the land
To write down the unwritten,
To sing the great unsung-
In vain has Ireland lived her time
In vain have the voices called,
In vain the dreamer, vain the dream
In vain did the builders build.
*
The craving is in full spate.
More than at any other hour
The oldest hunger is crying out,
And midnight, morning sound again
Clamoring its fresh lamentation.
Our fathers awaken, they gather
Along the bend of the Boyne,
They move in soft, low murmur
As twilight opens into the dawn.
And the murmur rises, and words appear-
‘Bring out the mould, and pour the melt,
And sing alive the waiting land,
And sing of our eternal bond
With the house that the builders built.’
*
If the world does not sense us,
If the world does not raise an ear
And fin vibrato, wing strum,
Clamor up upon our shore
To whisper pointing out toward us,
Whisper under brightening eyes-
These are the ones, enter here,
These are of oldest wisdom,
These are the new wise-
In vain and vain the ages’ stir,
Whatever named, whatever willed,
In vain the ice, in vain the fire,
In vain are all the centuries.
In vain did the builders build.

THE BLIND PIPER
The blind piper experiences the eclipse
of the sun and out of his agitation he moves into
a sudden surge of bliss. This is from a true
story of a totally blind man known to this writer
who was sitting in his own home and who grew
very agitated during at partial eclipse as if
experiencing some internal vision that could not
be spoken about.

And sudden twilight empties day,
Mid-day dark and mid-night light,
The ring, the halo brightening.
And skies empty of wings, the cattle
In the field as a stone arrangement
Face to where their shadows fled
As the cycles of the world, the rhymes
The rhythms pause their dance.
Seated on his fallen trunk of oak
The blind piper’s fingers lock.
Midway through an old lament
The head rises from its downward way
As his blank eyes scan the heavens.
Images there, born of his long eclipse,
Images come in the tunes’ passion
Flare out of the blinded sight,
Flare out of the corona,
Flare into a spasm of bliss.
But the moon is passing on,
The ring is gone, the day returns
And the piper’s elbows rhyme again,
And fingers start their chanter dance.
Evening is following. Evening gone,
And the reel and jig and the slow air,
The drones’ pine, the drones’ throat,
Piping long past his bedtime hour,
Piping away far into the night.


CANTICLE OF BIRTH
From memories of watching
the heifer in the field giving birth to the calf.
The notion of a “passing over” represents an advancing from one
state to another, the fundamental dynamic of
existence as experienced.

And we know well that solemn hour,
The crossing, the passing over.
We know, deeper than the deep of blood
The memory of a journey made
Far beyond the stirring of the sap,
That most distant order
Where ending and beginning touch.
And there as she stands facing east
Moan on moaning rise and rise
And the pant and heave is on
As hooves and nose appear
Out of the pain. A quiet falls.
The moments gather, and out of there
A roar arise and fill the void,
And as echoes follow, rumble away,
The newborn slides out unto the earth.
*
Now she faces to where it lies
Glistening in the dew of birth,
And it raise itself as the sun-flower
Turning to the morning sun,
Move, move toward the mother
And touch their heads together,
Intimate murmur, sound to sound,
Separated and returned.

THE ENGLISH.
There are five fundamental layers of human memory common to all peoples involved in the response to tragedy. Two are general and two particular and all exist of the dominant memory presented as the Primordial memory of Being which is experienced and expressed as the possession of Being- the first memory. Regarding the two particular layers of memory the position is presented that in times of extremity, of great loss such as in the death of Diana and the Hillsborough tragedy, the English people break out of their settled demeanor in a spontaneous outpouring of offering in the form of the laying of flowers at a particular place of destination. They do not break into song or verse or prayer but into a solemn silence and a rise of the catholic memory of oblation and colour that overcomes the suppression of religious belief as subservient to national aspiration as from the Reformation. Silence and offering are specific. The third level of memory is the pagan ritual of sacrifice in the appesing of the gods but the acompanying chant is totally internalized into silence. The fourth memory is that of the cycles of nature presented in the tidal longing for the moon- all these memories are shocked into existence within the pimoridal memory of Being.

None sought for words.
None raised a prayer.
None entered a hymn or rhyme
As the long, long procession
Moved into the silent day.
It was the hour of oblation,
Face after face full of solemnity
As they placed their holy flowers
In a vast spread of offering.
And all those moving feet,
And all those footprints they followed
Out of the steady rhyme of stepping
And a far off drone of murmur
Now louden around the pyre,
Louden at flame and stir of incense,
And away beyond there
Under the full galactic night
Away in the rhyme of the ocean wave
The lunar dawn appearing,
The lunar craving of the deep,
Beyond there. Beyond.
Away there. Beyond. Beyond.

AT DAWN THE GUNS’LL BARK.
The poem identifies the dominant human urge, the possession of Being- not the possession of a Being- that instigates the endless conflicts and wars of humanity and why what is termed “the rational”can rarely intervene and prevent them. It asserts that the dynamic involved is not of a blind will nor the will to power nor to dominate nor any of the conventional interpretations of the psychoanalysts or philosophers. These factors only exist within a wider dynamic of human drama presented as this possession, that the dominant urge is not sourced to mind/brain, but to their Being, that the usual reasons given for war are in reality mere aspects of this Possession. This is why “appeals to reason” universally fail to prevent wars and conflicts down through history. The refrain “But we were not sober then” refers to the ongoing human reflection from the lull after the energies have been spent.

At dawn the guns’ll bark.
The talking ways have filled their hour.
Last moment pleas, the scurrying work
Of diplomat and clerk are over
And the dam begins its spill,
And the dam walls free the flood.
Maybe only at an old age call
To move along the rows of dead
Might lips tremble, whisper pass-
Oh then? But we were not sober then.
Something set us drunk.
Someone slipped drink into our glass.

*
It was marked from early times
That reason is a frail companion.
It was spoken how the measured tone
Could not quell the pipes and drums,
Yet never utterance of the deeper way
Sourcing our Janus stock,
The race possessed, the boundless heroic
Gentle deed, boundless barbarity.

Who speaks the mystic wrath?
The trek of the great pilgrimage,
Our quiet day struck down in the spiral
Flare of starling, our swan’s rhythm break north
And rage of salmon on the fall.
Nor a void of ocean, nor the land’s edge
Perturb the passion of the fin, the wing
To their destination. After, later, a song
Gather out of their arriving place-
Oh then? But we were not sober then.
Something set us drunk.
Someone slipped drink into our glass.

Farewell that mask of human nature
As the ages held, and the creature
Now appear, one after one
Into their judgment. No words are spoken,
Their faces set as a hermit’s ecstasy,
Set the chasm of the eagle’s eye
As they more and more inhale
The rising incense of their ritual

And war it is. War the call.
The tidal surge won’t turn
Until its moon is spent.
Prayers float there, supplication
On the shore-bound swell
And rock and great rock shaken.
After, the seas, the shrunken penitent
Seas far out lap remorse-
Oh then? But we were not sober then.
Something set us drunk.
Someone slipped drink into our glass.

I HAVE LIVED THROUGHOUT THIS SURGING TIME

No matter what new insights or discoveries are presented in whatever field of human endeavor in the old boundary of thinking, things break down when approaching projected absolutes. The traditional presentations of the rational and the empirical cannot encompass what exists to be resolved, that all projected progress in the light of this represents a state of more and more of less and less. The assertion here is that all creative human endeavor is ultimately art, that is, informal art as distinct from formal art – music, literature, painting etc. In turn, all modes of art are ultimately acts of oblation. This is the notion of art as ultimate offering. The reference to Navan Fort (Eamhain Macha) is to the act of oblation when the ancients ritually burnt down their newly raised temple.

I have lived throughout this surging time
From the horse and plough to broadband.
I have smelled the burn of hoof on shod,
On wings of web I soared, I sped
Within this sixty year long rhyme,
And thought no age made such a stand,
None sat so proudly on their throne
Of all the ages known to man,
And the ancients gather on Navan Fort,
And temple pyre, and pounding heart
.

I have travelled on this speeding land
To hear an old one make their thought
That what I seek can not be found,
Or found, is not what’s sought.
And told again as a dying breath,
Told what’s blesséd, what I must bless-
Ancient Achilles tortoise path,
The more and more of less and less.

I have lived to watch the young grow old,
The dawn brighten and the evening fade.
I have lived to hear new stories told
Rhyming old ones, speak their bond,
And lived to know the flowings made
Still leave untouched the deeper flow
That full of age I still move behind
Stamping horses pulling the plough,

And so, I’ve fled the fields of reason
For the far hills of wild song.
I have said farewell, farewell again
And joined the singing, piping throng,
Man on the spoons and the bodhran girl,
And watched the dancers drum their reel,
Fiddler, harper in full abandon
Far into the night, far into the moon,
As the ancients gather on Navan Fort.
And temple pyre. And pounding hear
t.

I MET WITH COLLINS IN HIS OLD DAYS

This Fantasia poem tells of Michael Collins as an old man being paid a visit by a stranger. As Collins rests in his armchair staring out the window he is reminded of the far off deeds when he was in his prime. But the vagaries of age, of lengthy years, have long since drained away the youthful certainties, the sense of purpose and bonds of brotherhood.
He is reminded of how often he wished he had died at the zenith of his achievement in bringing the war of independence into the Truce and so joining the hero comrades of the preceding Rising. Maybe human age is an unnatural thing, he has thought, an aberration of existence with no purpose but age for the sake of age, that it is anti heroic. He is reminded that his qualities of leadership could not have been made for such a drift, such a disintegration of great ideals.
Surely, as in the affirmations of the myths and legends of the ages- to which the stranger tells him he intimately belongs- there is an earlier authentic dynamic of existence that naturally bred heroes and heroines where all was worked out in the intensity of people in their youthful prime, that death is a natural consequence of such supreme deeds, and entry into the afterlife natural to their destiny.
The stranger reflects to Collins that more and more he longs to be with those comrades who were of that order of things, that he was only made for the heroic. The stranger reflects a special position he might have held in this afterlife, that is, of transforming into heroes all those innocent youth who had died in wars and conflicts not of their making. In his old age now, he falls asleep at night with all these thoughts, and they awaken him in the early morning.

I met with Collins in his old days
Moving in slow steps across the room.
I watched him lower into an armchair
And gather breath, and move a gaze
And the clear eyes enter a settled stare.
It was late evening. Autumn had come,
Leaf by leaf outside on the windborne trek,
The bare sycamore, and the baring oak.
*
And there you are, I softly said.
My travel over now. My journey made.
I see you firm on the window scene
Where the early days make apparition,
The early days parade their promise,
That turn of head, the firm command, the rise
Of laughter at the end of day
Bring lofty purpose to a people’s journey,
*
And tell that of all who strode those times
You were the one whose countenance
And call aroused the ancient banquet.
You were the one to stir that old romance
They and their deeds and rhymes,
The gentle way, the warrior poise and strut,
And meet the tear of Deirdre with a tear,
And meet the fiery eye of Finn with fire.
*
Then that rogue arrival. The entry
Of the reign of age. Now under its stare
The early clarities wilt and wither,
Things unravel, the intimate grow alien,
Things go strange, the early pole star gone.
And all is drained of dream, all a lost way,
A tune unknown in the ancient drafting,
A verse not natural to nature’s song.
*
But to have gone at the blessed hour.
Gone in the blinding dawn of the deed,
The point where the bud gives birth
To the blossom, to be of there,
The place where the deed and the death
Embrace. And you slowly lower your head.
And your eyes dampen. I watch a tear
Follow, anoint your cheek and disappear.
*
Out of a great gathering throng
Now hear the clamor of your name. All those
Who followed the bugle of a cause,
The millions, their chorus- “Raise us! Raise us!
You fresh into your martyr bliss
Raise up our tragedy into song!”
And you inhale the vast beseeching storm.
And breath out the healing breath upon them.
*
As one still in pining for a long parted
Lover, the distant years move ever closer.
Comrade after comrade, moving there,
Ever fresh of face, head by proud
Head follow into your sleeping time.
And when the early hours come
Your watch begin, watch the twilight brighten,
Watch their golden chariots cross the dawn.
*
I’d better go. It will soon be dark.
The day is closing on the baring oak.
And there from a flame in the hearth fire
See sudden shades of features in your prime,
And age returning in the lowering flare,
And breathing rising as a rise of dream.
I’ll leave you there. I’ll gently close the door.
I’ll say good night to you. And say no more.

SECOND COMING
The arrival of the last ice age

Cold winds from the north grew wilder, puckered
The face and flared hair. Loaded bush and tree
Flew comet tail and bent. For long before we
Had heard the whinge of animal and bird.
It is the ice again! It is the ice
Again! Something has provoked the long peace,
Something has rekindled an old passion,
Swollen, risen out on the horizon.
It is the conqueror again. She tramps
To war again, she marches on, taking
All in her stride, growth and rising, old ramps
And barriers of former battle, ring
And guarded rampart, then piles up and slumps
To silence. That was her second coming.

THE THAW
Gestation of the drumlins
For an age she stayed and all was at rest.
For an age the fallen heavens covered her,
The young and old terrain, the spoils of war
Taken down, carried into her conquest.
And there all lay, prone land and supine land,
And there the features vanished, the bodies
Broken and gone, until all that remained
The granite skulls, the silent centuries.
And then a sudden twilight came. The sun
Awoke, the east assembled full of flame
As answerings began, strange sounds, and soon
Shapes from under the ice began to form,
Began to move, ever rising, one by one,
The crowning heads, all ready to be born.


THE NEWCOMERS
The birth of the drumlins
And head by head they come, the drumlin brood,
Wet and smooth as they enter down the dawn,
And the mother moving on her slow road
To make return to the distant ocean.

It is a naked place, echo empty.
Now the sun dries the dripping and warms up
The body as new breezes moving free
Kiss and whisper there, dancing their new step.

And the drumlins settle, and their shapes, full
Or gaunt are filled in the mould, in the cast
The ages dealt them. Through mist and rainfall
They tell their tales, speaking winds from thaw and frost,

They tell sights from shadows, slopes from the stream.
They called out their names before we named them.

UILLEANN PIPERS, KNOW YOUR CALLING.
Dedicated to the memory of Uilleann piper Jack Makem from Derrynoose, Co Armagh 1919-1988, my father, in celebration of the centenary of his birth. The eldest son of Peter and Sarah Makem of Victoria St. in Keady he was member of the Keady Pipe Band from the late 1930's and bought a set of Uilleann pipes from a traveller Johnny Doran in Keady Fair in 1948 which he taught himself to play. One of the outstanding future pipers he influenced back in the early sixties was a young Brian Vallely, later the driving force behind the creation of the Armagh Pipers Club. Accordingly, this poem also commemorates the immense contribution of this Club to the promotion of Irish traditional music, notably that of the uilleann pipes, over the past half century.

Uilleann pipers, know your calling.
Know the deep of your belonging,
You the chosen one, raised up
To be a prophet of the land.

Uilleann pipers, know your art.
Remember that the drones and chanter,
Bag and bellows, regulators
Are come of the passion of the people
To reach the deeps and distances,
The wood, the bore, the double reed
To shape the great pilgrimage,
The tenor drone of the world’s pain,
The base drone of the world’s prayer.
Remember that. Remember more.
*
Before you enter your melody,
Before your wrist touches the harmonies
The piper’s longing must gather there,
The piper’s possession impose its quest
Into the flesh and bone of the tune
That out of there and risen
In a sudden octave soar
The full sigh of the world’s soul,
The mystical abandonment.
*
Remember. And all return
To the arms of the drones,
The return from where you’ve been,
Out of the highest arc of the heavens,
Out of the deepest draught of earth.

THE MONUMENTS.
The Neolithic monuments of Ireland such as at Bru Na Boine involving Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth and the various stone arrangements throughout the country represent perhaps the earliest known affirmations of the people in their confrontation with existence, that is, in terms of the theory, the creation of access to Being presented as the dominant human drive, the possession of Being. Whatever interpretations are put on the creation of such structures and artwork, this is the overall reality. The case is made that the mode of early conscious knowing was the purest of all human knowing and intimate with the inherited instincts and memories of nature, that the impulse to create was as that of the inherited memory of the wild bird and animal. The sonnet begins with the return of the full plumage of nature following the retreat of the last ice age and the establishment of human ritual and creativity. Thedynamic of such creativity is in the concluding couplet.

All is settled down now. The hills are plush
And grown rich in their deciduous flows,
The beech and ash, the larch and the wild rush
Merge season easily. Snow kisses and goes.

But winter ways broke our fathers’ wander,
A stir of memory in the thin day’s reign
To raise stone and stone and the blackbird stare,
The lair and burrow eyes, the nest and den.

And in the bloom of nightfall under moon
And meteor and under star, memory
Stirred again, moved out of its hidden way,
Readied the head to meet the waiting dawn.

And day presented night with measured work.
And night lit up the places day made dark.


KAVANAGH FANTASIA
In the fantasia sonnet below, Patrick Kavanagh
longs to be released from the prison of his art, that
the relentless inner demand to shape his experiences
of the world around him into verse, to be faithful
to his calling, are not rewarded with the expected
acknowledgement and uplift.
His gift has become a thankless struggle, that there
is an unnatural imbalance between the lofty calling,
the meticulous structuring of his art and
the indifferent response.
He decides to take himself to the mid- winter
dawn at Newgrange that its great flaring consume
his old grief of neglect and indifference, liberate him into the mystical experience, and he move in bliss among the ancients.

Weary of drumlin. Weary of all that.
Weary
of verb and noun and rhyming feet
On the lone road. Tired of the bare page,
The waiting pen, the daily, daily siege.
Will no release arrive to end this curse,
Consume this scourge of the soul, verse on verse
Demanding to be born, and strain and sweat
Mating word with word, line to line, and yet
No honour there, no praise, no thanks, no glow,
No lift of heart. But I’ll be moving now,
Follow mid-winter twilight to enter
Where the ancients are, to stand attention
There among them that an old pain gather
Its grief, die into in the flare of the dawn.


THE FEAR.
I have no written evidence that I
Had fathers before my great grandfather,
All my lineage represented by
An entry in the parish register.

Beyond this, I think on a woman bent
Across her stick, and at her side a man
Buckled down, both staring outward, both gaunt,
Fix their eyes on me in a steady burn.

Things done leave things undone as paths taken
Leave a trail. I waited on some words to flare,
A solemn voice maybe condemn or warn,
But no lips moved, nor no face softened there.

And then the fear. That stare go on and on.
Features as they spoke before words were born.

NAVAN FORT
The apparition tells of the ancients’ presence at the Navan, that their great oblation, the ritual burning down of their newly created temple was the ultimate consummating act of their lives of noble deeds. They are not to be thought of or identified by earthly bones from excavations, but of a living presence both indirectly and directly experienced by the senses. The direct presence is experienced through nature in certain smells of things still sacred to them such as of broken hazel wood and fresh spring water at the dawn well. But in sight and hearing we are drawn to what has happened and is gone.

I thought of a great shape on Navan Fort
Whose eyes slowly opened as of the lock
Of a long age. I felt a heart pulsate,
Mouth like a sea shell move, begin to speak;
"We are the first of Ulster, we warriors
And holy ones. We are the first of all
To raise up the ways of wars and lovers,
Who stepped a god’s print, taking the gods’ trail,
And burn, burn and fire, fire! Dig no ring
To reach us, but watch for us, watch for us,
This voice that’s heard before the listening,
This face that vanishes under focus,
Watch for us, watch for us, our scent, our smell
In cracked hazel, water at the dawn well.”


MERCATOR
My map of the world hangs in Mercator.
Stretched Siberia, vast Antarctica,
Contracted lands along the equator
At South America and Africa.

Slow light in winter softened the contour
All along the edges of the ocean,
Rising, fading, rising into my stare
In the image of a crucified man.

Those swollen polar extremities stretched
Into the wide meridian drew out
At the centre more and more as I watched
Land and ocean exchange the fading light.

But dark always came before I might see
All retract to its globularity.


WINGS
The gravity of age is draining out
Thinking ways that once rendered full delight
In younger times, thought then arousing thought
Before those lovers parted with their lot.

Less wise now being a wiser man, I plant
No flag on any hill and am content
To journey as the eel, to take the flow
As the starling gathering, older now,

Full of migration and autumn moorings,
Of things rising to go and falling things,
Full of all that, the silent ways, the shrill,
Long gentle soundings, long, long cry, long call.

The gravity of age has drained me dry
Awaiting wings to land with, wings to fly.


ACAPUNCTURE
To purge the land and its history
and begin afresh.

I think of a white haired figure
Bent over Ireland
With their acupuncture needles
In the hood of the left hand.
Woman or man under
The shawl of fallen locks
I watch slow bony fingers
Insert into a drumlin col
Between Armagh and Monaghan,
And raising a head and lowering,
Breathing coming as a sleeping child,
Implant, slowly, deeply
Into joints of rock and bog. Then
In the tongue of the Bann
Entering Lough Neagh
Pierce firmly throatward,
Needles set along the Boyne,
A needle entered in Kinsale
And one deep at Ferrycarrig.
Again I watch the bony fingers aim
Poised above Slieve Gullion
Between the Ring and mountain,
And all day slaved away,
All night under the moon
And out of the dawn hour’s entry
Oak came and beech and hazel,
Ash and sycamore and elm
Sprouting at the filling east,
Filling hollow, crowding hill,
And away at an eye’s meander,
Far off at the river’s side
A rough sailing boat
Smaller and smaller there
Departing on the Foyle tide.

I HAVE NOTHING FOR YOUR GRIEF BUT MY SONG
Back in the late fifties, a neighbour man visited my grandparents at their home in Keady to tell them that a former girlfriend of his who had emigrated to America a year previous had been killed in an accident, that he had never got over her emigration and was now more distraught than ever. My grandmother Sarah, a traditional singer, said nothing as the neighbor spoke, but presently, began to sing an old lament “Our ship is ready.” He listened intentely and afterwards sat and talked and went home strangely soothed and contented.
I later began to imagine the singer as a spinner and weaver of the ways of history who through their journeys felt the sufferings of the landscape in trials by fire nd traials of the ice ages, felt the joys of the new landscape rising and life returning, and spun threads from these traumas and uplifts of history. At the end of their travellings they wove their findings into song with its natural healing powers. Acoerdingly, this is the essence of what she told him in her singing;

I have nothing for your grief but my song.
I have nothing for your tears
But the towel of my verse,
An old weaving tender born,
An old weave solemn made
Of wanderings, of journey ways.
I spun the drone of the four winds,
I spun yarn from the land’s refrain
In flares of lava, molten run,
And the melt of ice, the drumlin birth
And dance of growth on the bare hills.
I gathered, I carried these,
And brought all to my loom,
And my song come at the day’s leave,
My song appear, my weave arrive.
*
And my song will follow you,
My verse come as a rhyme of wings
Crossing the brightening east
To bring its calming, bring the balm.
And even if it be a parting way,
If one must go, must heed that call,
My song be in their spirit’s travel,
Will watch and guard their grave.
On layers of earth, of fallen leaf
I’ll spread a layer of verse,
And my song come, my song be there,
My song come and cover all.

SOMETIMES I LONG TO BE.
Sometimes I long to be
In some Precambrian valley
Under the moon's early face.
Somewhere there look down
And watch her shadow trace
Along the eager dust and stone,
She moving on the display
Of forming Plough and Milky Way.
*
Somewhere there, somewhere then
In the barren moonlit valley
Hear fiddlers and piping men,
Hear their reel and slow air
Ever loudening, ever rising free,
This one’s cran, that one's slur,
All the familiar styles
Along the moon filled miles.
*
And that fresh lunar stare.
The unblemished countenance
And full glow across the trance
Of night, hour after hour,
Now moving low, now descend
To touch the sleeping land.
And I break into a prayer.
And I long to be there.
*
Sometimes I long to be
Among the long departed.
Sometimes, so close, so far,
Draw lowered eye and head
Toward the abyss of galaxy,
To the plough, to the pole star.
And pipes and fiddle rise again.
And dancers in the rising moon.

FAREWELL AUL HEART
Written in 1973 in the local Derrynoose
accent at a time of imitating Burns.
It relates to a neighbour who had just turned eighty
and who felt the end was not far away.

Farewell aul heart I’ve niva seen
Yar bate'n pumpin' face,
Farewell aul lungs, the same t’ yourself
An’ the way y’ run the race.
Ye’ wrought away for the foa score
In the days’ rise an sinkin',
Ye wrought away without a stap,
And niva lucked for thankin.’

An’ kidney twins- what ken I say,
The pair a ye at yar work?
Over the years ye drained away
As much as wud would fill a lake.
An’ liver too, an’ faithful bowels,
How did yis keep it goin’?
Eighty long years of labour
And not once stapped the flowin'.
*
Farewell aul brain, farewell again
Ye kept all yar secrets well,
Ye niva let on what was happenin’
Away in the deep a’ the skull.
But you were mine, and mine ye stayed
An sight and hearing all for free,
And all the thoughts and memories there-
Ye kept them jus for me.
*
Farewell aul body I niva knew
That I was loved so dearly,
I never knew yar sarvant ways
That waited on me hourly,
An’ I niva knew and I niva thought
The hour would come to grieve ye,
For it’s only now I’m tornin’ roun',
T’ love ye, as ye lave me.

HIMALAYA VISIT
And high above Slieve Gullion,
Sudden over Drumbunion
And the Breague and Mullyash,
Away above the fields of Brackley
The Himalayas soared
As a vast August cumulus.
It was around the noon hour
That they appeared to us
Rising and rising there,
Chomolúngma, Cho Óyu,
Mákalú and Dhaulagíri,
Nanga Párbat, Kangchenjúnga,
And the dark stare of Lhótse Shar,
The white anger of Annapurna.
Then the south wind strengthened
And the great peaks began to move
Thinning one after the other
And vanished into the sky.
By evening, in dark blue clarity
Our rounded, settled land,
Born again, appeared again,
Risen into the cloudless vault.


THE PIPER OF FAIR HEAD
The young piper is so distraught following the death of his wife that he moves to the rim of Fair Head to play a lament that might call out her spirit to meet with him. He faces away toward the Mull in the late evening and pipes away into the night. Then the lunar dawn makes a vague light in the low east sky and in his state he thinks it is the appearance of his wife’s spirit. Because he is now half blind in a flow of tears as the moon moves above the horizon and its sheen on the seas is directly toward him, the experience overwhelms him that he falls to the ground and gathers the fallen pipes around him in a tight embrace and dies. At this, pipers from all over gather and form a great circle around him, and the sounds of pipers from the Mull and Rathlin join in the same lament until the dawn comes and they solemnly raise him and bear him away.

And he stood on the prow of Fair Head
As evening twilight gathered the night,
And under star by star appearing
And a heart pounding around despair
Filled drones and chanter for the call.
And the piping raised its offering
A lone sound in the starlit void
On and on its pleading rising
Away to the plough, to the Milky Way.
And then of a sudden in the low east
The vague light of the lunar dawn
Made its glow, began to blossom,
And the grey Mull risen on the grey sea,
Rathlin awake and risen and then
As the full orb lit the waters
In a sheen reaching out toward him,
As the blur of tear and blur of light
Danced into the lament, he fell to the ground
As a swoon, and moved no more.
And all around him where he lay
And his arms embracing the fallen pipes
A bloom of moonlit pipers came
And circled there, took up the tune,
And piping came from across the sea
As the great lament filled up the night,
Filled the early shades of daybreak,
And they raised him there, bore him away,
Bore him land-ward in that hour,
Píping ín the fírst of éast,
Píping óut the mórning stár.


O SWAN UPON OUR GENTLE WATER
The depth of knowing in nature and the related early human intuition that life on earth is come of the relationship with the lunar body.
O swan upon our gentle water
Where will yóu be in the morning,
Where will yóu be when we rise-
Winding through the polar air
Far, far above the ocean,
You who ate our crumb, our morsel,
You who sailed beneath our eyes.
And what is stirring in that head
To make your wings unsettle
And stretch out their fullest span,
And your white shape soar away
And blacken into the dawn?
*
Then eel arriving in our river
Who can know your secret journey,
Speak what sea-men tell of shoals
Speeding beneath the speeding prow,
And silver flashes, silver glow,
And tell of tales that all are come
From far beyond where sails are filled,
And know neither the pole or plough
But move as the moon in racing clouds?
And here you are, and here you were,
And river filling where you’ve been.
And river filling where you’re gone.
*

O virgin mother of the night
You that stare past the day’s advance,
You that pile up the oceans
And wash the shores of the world,
We watch your pale countenance
Stare in profile at the night’s abyss,
And turn earthward in your full face
The mother turning to the child.
We all are under your grief.
You know us all, you know us all,
The barren, fertile moon,
The dead moon of life.


THAT YOU BE NAMED AMONG THE NAMES
In remembrance of Armagh writer John O Connor written in 2017 on the occasion of a literary festival created in his honour.
That you be named among the Names,
That you be named to stand with those
Who shaped the forming of their time
I call upon that legacy
And tell that you be numbered there
Where dream and day roll their drums,
And you be stood the heart’s applause.
And you be named among the Names.
*
We think of all the quiet hours
Your pen moved from page to page
On returning from your wanderings,
Your gathering of the people’s ways,
And think again of the toil on toil
To shape beyond what age can touch
That after you and all are gone
Your word, your line, your book remain.
*
Then let us say and say again
That you be named among the Names,
And on this chosen hour, this call
Ascend your rightful pedestal.
And you forever light our road,
And you forever shape our dreams.
And you be named where hearts are raised.
And you be named among the Names.

BANNOCKBURN
In memory of the Celtic victory of 1967. A framed copy of this was presented to Glasgow Celtic by the Irish Supporters clubs in 2012 marking the forty fifth anniversary of the victory.

Because the Lisbon hour was taken
Parkhead is changed forever.
By day, by dark, by morning star
The deed that raised the peerless crown

Spreads its light along the way.
Their names are there, the names are read
They who sailed on fortune's tide,
They who made return in glory-

Gemmell and McNeill and Johnstone,
Craig and Murdoch, Wallace, Auld and Stein,
Fallon Sean and Fallon John and Simpson,
Lennox, Clark and Chambers, all in line.

And who can compare with them
That leader and his home made men,
Who can overcome their fame?
Great as deeds at Bannockburn,

Great as any Scotland sent,
Recall again their do and dare,
Recall the wave on wave defiant,
The surge of that relentless hour.

And time can never take the day,
And time can never take the dawn,
As one by one they fall away,
And one by one they rise again.



THE MIST IS ON SLIEVE GULLION
The mist is on Slieve Gullion,
Morning mist at the break of dawn
Moving under morning star.
The winds that gather there,
The north wind’s early breath
Is sudden milk, is sudden cloth
When the first stretch of day
Touches the cold, dark body.

The mist is on Slieve Gullion,
Mist returning in the evening
When the cleared head clouds again
To the south west song,
And the song come spilling tale
Of wild deed and solemn deed,
Whisperings, and horn call,
And bearings for the dead.

And the cloth of day is fading,
Fading into the falling dark
As sleep spreads out its wing
Until dreaming comes to stir awake,
And we watch from our early Ring
In woolen weave, in weave of silk,
The mountain mouths of morning
Feeding at the dawn milk.