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Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:12 am
by lonndubh

We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.

O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.

Patrick Kavanagh

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:17 pm
by Virginia
I like this very much.
What a wonderful understatement of love.
And what a marvellous opening line.
Thank you.

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:37 pm
by lonndubh
Patrick Kavanagh

...was born in Mucker townland, Inniskeen, County Monaghan in 1904 and lived there as a farmer, a cobbler and a poet until he moved to Dublin in 1939. His best-known books are The Ploughman (1936), The Green Fool (1938), The Great Hunger (1942) and a novel - Tarry Flynn (1948).
There is a splendidly lifelike statue of him seated on a bench on the bank of the Grand Canal in Dublin of which at least one visitor has unwittingly begged its pardon.

A Christmas Childhood
by Patrick Kavanagh

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost—
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw—
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood's. Again

The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch
Or any common sight the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin* bushes rode across
The horizon — The Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:
'Can't he make it talk'—
The melodeon. I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade—
There was a little one for cutting tobacco,
And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:17 pm
by Red Poppy
One of the greats - poet and poem!

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:23 pm
by mat james
And Christ comes with a January flower.
Down here in the antipodes, January has a hot complex.
But , being understanding of our northern brothers I can say that this is a beautiful line, where Christ re-surrects from the snowy depths of dormant psuedo death to flowering beauty.

Great attitude.


Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:40 pm
by lonndubh
mat james wrote:
And Christ comes with a January flower.
i was thinking about this line today when out for a walk .
We have been having very low temperatures for the last while -as low as minus 8 which is a little unusual
I suddenly spied a bright yellow dandelion peeping out from a ditch .
The same effect as seeing the first lambs in the fields.
It sorts of kick starts the whole thing again as you suggest Mat ' re-surrects '
' Revelation ' Kavanagh admits ' comes as an aside '.
It comes unbidden in an essentially non -academic way but,
nevertheless,as compelling as is the appearance of a January flower .


Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:01 am
by lonndubh

The trees were in suspense
Listening with an intense
Anxiety for the Word
That in the Begining stirred
The dark-branched Tree
Of Humanity.

Subjectively the dogs
Hunted the muted bogs,
The horses surpressed their neighing,
No donkey-kind was braying,
The hare and rabbit under-
Stood the cause of wonder.

The blackbird of the yew
Alone broke the two
Minutes' silence
With a new poem's violence.
A tomboy scare that drove
Faint thoughts of active love.

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:24 am
by martensg
I love Patrick's poem, "On Raglan Road."


Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:09 pm
by lonndubh
Yes its a very fine song too Martensg.
Have you heard Luke Kelly the great Irish ballader from The Dubliners sing it.
Here is an intro and a link to it .
Worth a listen .

Writer Benedict Kiely thinks he was the first person to see the words of 'Raglan Road' written out and how Kavanagh asked him if he thought the poem could be sung to the air of 'The Dawning of the Day'.
Luke Kelly met Patrick Kavanagh only once. During this encounter Kavanagh told him he had a song for him. The song was 'On Raglan Road'. For many people Luke Kelly's interpretation of 'On Raglan Road' is the definitive one.
Patrick Kavanagh met Hilda Moriarty in 1944. She was a 22-year-old medical student at University College Dublin. Kavanagh, who was 20 years older, became obsessed with Hilda Moriarty. His love was unrequited and she later married Donogh O'Malley (who became a Fianna Fáil Minister for Education).
In an interview filmed for the documentary 'Gentle Tiger', Hilda Moriarty-O'Malley, who inspired 'On Raglan Road', explains the origins of the poem. ... re=related

On Raglan Road

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.

Patrick Kavanagh


Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:18 pm
by lonndubh

We will not hold an inquest on the past-
The Word died,the mistake was made,the sin
Was committed as the wheel turned again
And again,exactly as it had turned last.
In the mornings we made promises to ourselves as the fresh
Air of the street gave us that springtime feeling
That is to say ,sad hope.Our wills were willing
And plenty of years in the future said ,wish your wish.
Yet there was something of the dead past polluting
The New Word we had created out of the water and the spirit
And everything seemed over bar the shouting
When out of the holy mouth came angelic grace
And the will that had fought in vain found new merit
And all sort of beautiful things appeared in that place.

Patrick kavanagh
from :Studies (Dublin )Spring 1958

Re: July Evening

Posted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:50 pm
by lonndubh
It's really marvellous this evening the first day of July
Nineteen-sixty-two,eight in the evening ,you haven't to try
For meaning ; all you have to do is state
A few facts ; the corn is shot out
And the swamp by Caffreys is a forest of yellow flaggers.
O Muse,today you cannot call us beggers.
Every man his own poet,walks down the lane
Ennumerate the same old things again
And they are not old at all,they only arrived
A few hours ago.How wonderful to have lived
To see these miracles,to feel the power
Of Pope or Milton living at this hour.
And gather round me fathers,mothers.daughters,sons
When we were twenty-two.
O let us just take notice from our pew.

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:59 am
by mat james
How wonderful to have lived
To see these miracles,
I'll go along with that !

Excerpt from The Great Hunger

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:40 am
by lonndubh
The cards are shuffled and the deck
Laid flat for cutting - Tom Malone
Cut for trump. I think we'll make
This game, the last, a tanner one.
Hearts. Right. I see you're breaking
Your two-year-old. Play quick, Maguire,
The clock there says it's half-past ten -
Kate, throw another sod on that fire.
One of the card-players laughs and spits
Into the flame across a shoulder.
Outside, a noise like a rat
Among the hen-roosts.
The cock crows over
The frosted townland of the night.
Eleven o'clock and still the game
Goes on and the players seem to be
Drunk in an Orient opium den.
Midnight, one o'clock, two.
Somebody's leg has fallen asleep.
What about home? Maguire, are you
Using your double-tree this week?
Why? do you want it? Play the ace.
There's it, and that's the last card for me.
A wonderful night, we had. Duffy's place
Is very convenient. Is that a ghost or a tree?
And so they go home with dragging feet
And their voices rumble like laden carts.
And they are happy as the dead or sleeping …
I should have led that ace of hearts.

On An Apple-Ripe September Morning

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:06 pm
by lonndubh
On an apple-ripe September morning
Through the mist-chill fields I went
With a pitch-fork on my shoulder
Less for use than for devilment.

The threshing mill was set-up, I knew,
In Cassidy's haggard last night,
And we owed them a day at the threshing
Since last year. O it was delight

To be paying bills of laughter
And chaffy gossip in kind
With work thrown in to ballast
The fantasy-soaring mind.

As I crossed the wooden bridge I wondered
As I looked into the drain
If ever a summer morning should find me
Shovelling up eels again.

And I thought of the wasps' nest in the bank
And how I got chased one day
Leaving the drag and the scraw-knife behind,
How I covered my face with hay.

The wet leaves of the cocksfoot
Polished my boots as I
Went round by the glistening bog-holes
Lost in unthinking joy.

I'll be carrying bags to-day, I mused,
The best job at the mill
With plenty of time to talk of our loves
As we wait for the bags to fill.

Maybe Mary might call round...
And then I came to the haggard gate,
And I knew as I entered that I had come
Through fields that were part of no earthly estate.

Re: Patrick Kavanagh 21/10/1904-30/11/1968

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:59 am
by mat james
Thanks for the P.K book Brid and for an 'Apple-Ripe September' day'
You were the best of Ireland.

Love Mat and Mob.