Patrick Kavanagh (+2)
Canal Bank Walk
Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.
Lines Written on a Seat
on the Grand Canal, Dublin
‘Erected to the memory of Mrs. Dermot O’Brien’
O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose
Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands.
A swan goes by head low with many apologies,
Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges –
And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
And other far-flung towns mythologies.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.
On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.
On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay –
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.
I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that’s known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May
On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay –
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of day.
Raglan Lane (for Patrick Kavanagh)
In Raglan Lane, in the gentle rain, I saw dark love again,
Beyond belief, beyond all grief, I felt the ancient pain,
The joyful thrust of holy lust, I stretched on heaven’s floor,
One moment burned what the years had learned and I was wild once more.
The years’ deep cries in her sad eyes became a source of light,
The heavy gloom and sense of doom changed to pure delight.
And as we walked in joy and talked we knew one thing for sure,
That love is blessed togetherness and loneliness is poor.
Then I grew rich with every touch, we loved the whole night long,
Her midnight hair on the pillow there became an angel’s song,
Her happy skin, beyond all sin, was heaven opened wide,
But as the dawn came shyly on, I slept, and she left my side.
Why did she go? I’ll never know, nor will the gentle rain,
Her up and go was a cruel blow, and yet I felt no pain
For I had known her body and soul in my own loving way,
So I lay and thanked the God of love at the dawning of the day.
Brendan Kennelly reads
https://vimeo.com/2002088 Brendan Kennelly reads five poems, ‘Love Cry’, ‘I See You Dancing, Father’, ‘Bread’, ‘Raglan Lane’ and ‘Begin’, from the DVD-book IN PERSON: 30 POETS, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008)