Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Saturday night, the team was in Belfast to celebrate the end of our time together.  There was good food, good company, good Guinness (or Magners!), and good craic.  Stuart had shared some of his Dad's poetry with us.  Maybe it was being at Kelly's where there was a great session going on with some trad music.  Or maybe it was the sense we were all leaving, much like the character in the poem.  But our thoughts turned to good byes, and someone came up with th idea of Stuart reciting his Dad's poem for us.  Many, many thanks to Monty Alexander for sharing his work.  Everyone who read the poem identified somehow with it on some level.

I remember long ago, beside the warm turf fire
Father resting in his chair, before he did retire
Oil lamp with double burner, sitting on the shelf
High up, out of reach, for someone like myself

The newspaper it was poised, so as to catch the light
Enabling him to read it, in a glow that was not bright
Plug tobacco’s heavy fragrance hung upon the air
Nowhere I’ve ever been, does that scene compare

Griddle, pot and pan, at that hour were all at rest
For supper, soda farl and pancake, butter of the best
Then to bed under patchwork quilts, we lay down to sleep
Before this nightly repose, we’d pray us the Lord to keep

When grown I walked the loanin, by the dry stone wall
That far off sad departing, I here now recall
Mother kissed me on the cheek, a tear within her eye
A sister trudged beside me, wrecked by sob and sigh

Father shook me by the hand, and told me to take care
And remember all of them, I was leaving there
Aware of my crunching boots, I looked back in a final nod
My future to America, I placed before our God

Passing the school where I was taught, on that far off morn
I vowed the write to one and all, just there where I was born
Believing I was on my own, I happened to look round
The Dog, he had followed me, paddling along the ground

I patted him upon the head and ordered him back home
No longer would we hunt and fish, o’er the hills to roam
He just stopped and stood there, as I disappeared from view
Never to see each other again; this he somehow knew

Years have passed since I sat, beside the burning turf
I’ve seen mountains high and valleys low, and the Pacific’s surf
Here in my adopted land, I have dallied and I’ve wrought
Conflict I have faced, I have hunted and I’ve fought

But in the gloom of evening, when each day is over
I see Whin Bushes blooming, the Shamrock and the Clover
Bramble intertwined with Thorn, along the lanes of home
In the land of Erin, from whence I was to roam

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