Friday, December 20, 2013

Poem- A Winter in Ireland

In keeping with the season an entry from Daniel Patrick Murphy who writes: Mary Sweeney was a gentle poet with many children. She was born in County Cork, Ireland and immigrated to this country as a young woman and always wanted to visit her homeland but never had the resources to do so. I read some of her poems and the words in italics in my poem are her words. Mary Sweeney was the mother-in-law of a close friend of mine who is also a poet.

The characters of Deidre, Cuchulainn, and Oisin are well known figures in ancient Irish folklore.

Christmas In Ireland
(For Mary Sweeney, age 88)
I don’t know who came first, poets or friends.
Nevertheless, it was the funeral parlor
That caused me to meet Mary Sweeney.
She lay in a casket surrounded by
Flowers, family, and neighbors;
The scent of green distant mountains,
 Weathered valleys and waterfalls.
A seal was heard sounding,
A voice, yielding and mournful.
Coastal waters rumbled rhythmically.

 Blind villagers danced a reel,
Old Timmy lilted along.
Deirdre danced on the tip of a wave.
Cúchulainn and Oisín argued over
Who would be pallbearers.
Isn’t interesting how the sound
Of a poem begins like railroad tracks
And the train isn’t seen till the end.
Sure, God be thanked, we’re all together
Beneath one roof.

And the train arrived on schedule.
Flowers, family, and neighbors got aboard.
A seal sat up front, singing;
O, the cares of tomorrow must wait ‘til this day is done.
Several fine villagers sat down in relief,
Timmy had finally taken a nap
Deirdre sat next to Cúchulainn,
And Oisín kept notes. You and I smiled,
For didn’t we know,
There’s hope from the ocean,
But there’s none from the grave.

 As the train tugged uphill, we glanced backward.
Mary Sweeney stood there waving goodbye.
There was a shout for music, festivity and fiddles.
And her father placed a Yule log on the fire;
The countryside awakened with white.
Christmas bells rebounded over the valley below.
Mary was at peace, arrangements had been made
For her to stay a little while in Ireland.
--Daniel Patrick Murphy

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