Eavan Boland: 'Irish Poetry'
for Michael Hartnett
We always knew there was no Orpheus in Ireland.
No music stored at the doors of hell.
No god to make it.
No wild beasts to weep and lie down to it.
But I remember an evening when the sky
was underworld-dark at four.
When ice had seized every part of the city
and we sat talking
the air making a wreath for our cups of tea.
And you began to speak of our own gods.
Our heartbroken pantheon:
No Attic light for them and no Herodotus.
But thin rain and dogfish and the stopgap
of the sharp cliffs
they spent their winters on.
And the pitch-black Atlantic night.
And how the sound
of a bird’s wing in a lost language sounded.
You made the noise for me.
Made it again.
Until I could see the flight of it: suddenly
the silvery, lithe rivers of your south-west
lay down in silence.
And the savage acres no one could predict
were all at ease, soothed and quiet and
listening to you, as I was. As if to music, as if to peace.