Thursday, October 25, 2007

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

As the robin’s sharp trill
Cuts the air damp and chill
And the sodden leaves smother the grass,
I stroll round the graveyard
So barren and still
And the stones never blink as I pass.

There are so many names
Etched in weather-worn frames,
The last remnant of unfulfilled lives.
Are they all bathed in oil,
Or do some stoke the flames
With their loving and dutiful wives?

Every year I come here
When the sky’s pale and clear
And I visit my long-distant past –
Grandad Byrne with his cough
And his fondness for beer,
Auntie Vi with her bosom so vast.

George Geoghegan, who died,
So they said, with great pride
As a hero of nineteen sixteen,
And the Kanes, whom my father
Could never abide
In an overgrown plot past the green.

When I’ve paid them my dues,
Let them know all my news,
I head back with a sorrowful air.
Women potter in headscarfs
And sensible shoes
In this garden of quiet despair.

Of God, there’s no trace
In this desolate place,
Though his name is invoked in all quarters,
For he cannot explain
In his state of high grace
Why its right to part mothers and daughters.

And I stop at a stone,
Though not one of my own,
That is always adorned with fresh flowers,
Still a shrine to a man
That was blood, flesh and bone,
Beaten down at the height of his powers.

On a runway doused white
On a February night,
A red rose was scythed down in its prime.
‘Tis many years now
Since that ill-fated flight
But the shock hasn’t lessened with time.

As millions asked why
These young men had to die
With such tragic and unexplained violence.
The snow kept on falling
Like tears from the sky,
Entombing them all in its silence.

Liam Whelan, your world
Never fully unfurled,
Your bright future was cruelly taken,
Carried off in the blizzard
That flurried and swirled,
From which you were never to waken.

So I pause at your mound
In the wet leaf-strewn ground
In this graveyard so vast and defenceless.
And I scream out your name
Though my throat makes no sound,
For injustice, as then, is still senseless.

1 comment:

Laurent Dammé said...

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just come round once