Category Archives: Poetry

‘The Ballad of East and West’ , by Rudyard Kipling

The Ballad of East and West , by Rudyard Kipling

“Oh, East is East and West is West,and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

– Rudyard Kipling (1889)

The first line is frequently used to suggest that two different types of people or things cannot exist side by side or find commonalities, it being beyond doubt that geographic points of the compass will never meet. However, ironically, the significance of Kipling’s poem is that two when intelligent and principled men from diverse cultures meet they can appreciate and respect each other, since where they come from, the accidents of their birth, their nationality, race, or family, are inconsequential. In this context Kipling regarding Asians and the European as one and the same.

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Filed under 1889, Poetry

‘The White Birds’, by William Butler Yeats

Written by, William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s greatest poet, ‘The White Birds’, is an expression of concurrent intertwined feelings when loving someone so much colludes with the crushing despair of unrequited love, when your beloved does not love you back: A sense of loss over something you will never have, being one of the worst feelings ever.

William Butler Yeats wishes that he and his beloved, Irish nationalist Maud Gonne MacBride, with whom he was infatuated, could take flight from their circumstances and be together. This wish is portrayed in the representation of the two of them changed into white birds floating on the sea-foam. He urges his beloved not to muse over mundane and forlorn images of this world – the fading meteor, the rose and lily, depicting the politics of Irish nationalist resistance – and restates his longing to be apart from the world with her, as two white birds together

Tir na nOg in Irish folklore is an imaginary land where persons live as long as fairies by the “Danaan Shore”

I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!

We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee;

And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky,

Has awaked in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.

IMG_1902

“…on the foam of the sea…”  (Painting by Kathyrn O’Reilly 2006)

A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew-dabbled, the lily and rose;

Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes,

Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low in the fall of the dew:

For I would we were changed to white birds on the wandering foam: I and you!

IMG_2061 (2)

“… haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore…”

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,

Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;

Soon far from the rose and the lily and fret of the flames would we be,

Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!

William Butler Yeats (1892).

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Filed under Ireland, Love, Poetry

New Year’s Eve: Ireland’s last sunset of 2013

The last sunset of 2013 in Ireland - Dun Laoghaire

“Shedding its final gold of the old year..” The last sunset of 2013 in Ireland – Dun Laoghaire

Shedding its final gold of the old year

Amid fading crepuscular glimpses

The setting sun sinks into obscurity uncharted.

In the hushed stillness below the starlight the closing stages slowly but surely tick down to the peals of Midnight.

A fresh breeze in anticipation of sunrise at what time the first bird impatiently sings the dreams of a new dawn.

Harmony.

Happy New Year!!

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Filed under Ireland, Niallism, Poetry

What if?

Benjamin Zephaniah - What If

This is Benjamin Zephaniah‘s  ‘What if‘ 2009 take on Rudyard Kipling‘s inspirational poem classic ‘If‘, which is my favourite poem.

“If you can keep your money when governments about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust your neighbour when they trust not you

And they be very nosy too;

If you can await the warm delights of summer

Then summer comes and goes with sun not seen,

And pay so much for drinking water

Knowing that the water is unclean.

If you seek peace in times of war creation,

And you can see that oil merchants are to blame,

If you can meet a pimp or politician,

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you cannot bear dis-united nations

And you think this new world order is a trick,

If you’ve ever tried to build good race relations,

And watch bad policing mess your work up quick.

If you can make one heap of all your savings

And risk buying a small house and plot,

Then sit back and watch the economy inflating

Then have to deal with the negative equity you’ve got;

If you can force your mind and body to continue

When all the social services have gone,

If you struggle on when there is nothing in you,

Except the knowledge that justice can be wrong.

If you can speak the truth to common people

Or walk with Kings and Queens and live no lie,

If you can see how power can be evil

And know that every censor is a spy;

If you can fill an unforgiving lifetime

With years of working hard to make ends meet,

You may not be wealthy but I am sure you will find

That you can hold your head high as you walk the streets.”

Benjamin Zephaniah was born in Birmingham, England. Considered the most popular reggae poet in the world his poems are inspired by his love of Jamaican music and ‘street politics’.

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Filed under Inspirational, Poetry

A tribute to the beauty of words: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyám was an 11th and 12th Century Persian poet mathematician and astronomer. “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, which is said to be one of the ten best known poems in the world, and probably the most popular piece of Oriental literature, was originally written in Persian. The selected extractions below were translated into English by Edward Fitzgerald in  the late 19th Century.

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“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it” (M)

***

“Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night

Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight” (M)

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“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon

Turns Ashes — or it prospers; and anon,

Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face

Lighting a little Hour or two — is gone” (M)

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“A book of verse, underneath the bough,

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou

Beside me singing in the wilderness –

Ah, wilderness were paradise now ” (N)

Bluebell Wood by Kathryn O'Reilly

Bluebell Wood (Kathryn O’Reilly, 2006)

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Filed under Niallism, Poetry

‘The Tiger’, by William Blake

Tiger Tiger burning bright - william blake

The Tiger

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand and what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

 

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water’d heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

 

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake

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Filed under Beauty, Inspirational, Niallism, Poetry

Where Mum and Dad’s Journey Finally Ends and Sweet Eternity Begins

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft star-shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there;  I did not die.

 Mary Frye (1932)

How many loved your moments of glad grace

Directions - Grave # 149-JO-St Brigid

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Filed under Beauty, Deansgrange Cemetery, Kath Byrne, Kathryn O'Reilly, Liam O'Reilly, Obituary, Poetry

Queen Muffin II – The World’s Most Beautiful Dog

Queen Muffin II

Wrapped in Gold

No matter driving rain, howling gale, bitter cold, or blazing sun, walking the length of Dun Laoghaire Pier I am conscious no one values the very unique brilliance of my thoughts and words as much as Muffin does. Behaves gracefully in all situations and circumstances. She never asks why, just sniffs the ground to keep abreast of where we are, wags her tail and pulls forward.  Wonderful!

“…beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity; and all the virtues of man without his vices.

– Lord Byron, ‘Epitaph to a Dog’ (1808)

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Filed under Beauty, Dog, Friend, Moorefield, Poetry, tolerance

China – Under The Hood: Bewitching – The Four Beauties of Ancient China

China Under The Hood - The Four Beauties of Ancient China

  1. Yang Gui Fei 杨贵妃(719-756, Tang Dynasty), said to have “a face that would make all flowers feel shameful
  2. Wang Zhao Jun 王昭君 (c. first century BC, Western Han Dynasty), said to be “so beautiful as to make flying geese fall
  3. Xi Shi 西施 (c. seventh to sixth century BC, Spring and Autumn Period), said to be “so beautiful as to make swimming fish sink
  4. Diao Chan 貂禅(c. third century, Three Kingdoms Period), said to have “a face that would make the full moon hide behind the clouds

Now every man, whether single or married, would do well to learn the four wonderfully descriptive sentences used to describe the Four Beauties of Ancient China, which can be summed up in four words: ‘Chen yu luo yan‘ 沉鱼落雁 (“Sinking fish. Falling geese”).  

Certainly, girlfriends and wives would be thrilled to hear their man whisper such words over a candle-lit “Best Burger in Hangzhou” dinner at McDonald’s.

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Filed under Beauty, China, Culture, Poetry

‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, by Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there’s some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And Miles to go before I sleep,

And Miles to go before I sleep.

                                                                                                                                    Robert Frost (1922)

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October 21, 2012 · 7:01 pm