Patrick Kavanagh and a beetroot!

Irish Poet Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh is the rural poet king among the Irish. Every boy and girl who has sat their Leaving Certificate exam in Ireland knows that Kavanagh had a love hate reltaionship with Monaghan, his home county. This isn’t a book review, but if you do see a book of his poetry, read a few poems and you’ll get a sense of what life in rural Ireland was like.

My favorite poem of all time is On Raglan Road.

Below are two poems by Kavanagh that articulate my own feelings accurately about the loss of my mother and a father.

The mention of fairs and cattle and headlands brings many a reader back to the reality of growing up in rural Ireland in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t the worst childhood either.

Memory of my Father

Every old man I see Reminds me of my father When he had fallen in love with death One time when sheaves were gathered. That man I saw in Gardner Street Stumbled on the kerb was one, He stared at me half-eyed, I might have been his son. And I remember the musician Faltering over his fiddle In Bayswater, London, He too set me the riddle. Every old man I see In October-coloured weather Seems to say to me: “I was once your father.”  Patrick Kavanagh

In Memory Of My Mother

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see You walking down a lane among the poplars On your way to the station, or happily Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday – You meet me and you say: ‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle – ‘ Among your earthiest words the angels stray. And I think of you walking along a headland Of green oats in June, So full of repose, so rich with life – And I see us meeting at the end of a town On a fair day by accident, after The bargains are all made and we can walk Together through the shops and stalls and markets Free in the oriental streets of thought. O you are not lying in the wet clay, For it is a harvest evening now and we Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight And you smile up at us – eternally.



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  1. Pingback: A blaze of light in every word | Breise! Breise! Extra! Extra!

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