Making a Poem
WHERE A POEM COMES FROM
1. Sink into the abundance of abandoned time.
I wrote the poem in the following way:
I was walking down the main street of Naas and as I passed the Town Hall the phrase:
Sink into the abundance of abandoned time; came into my mind; where it came from I will never know. I repeated it and repeated it, then dashed into a local shop owned by John Prout and asked for a piece of paper and a pencil. They probably thought I was mad. I wrote the phrase down and I had captured it. So many of these phrases are like passing clouds that pass through the mind without being recorded and are gone forever.
As I had an ending to a potential poem I could make a poem with this as an ending.
The next day we had a Revenue Audit for a client of ours. It would be a very stressful day. I walked the canal before the morningís work began. I waved at Jackie Bracken across the canal. He had a shotgun and a retriever dog. He crossed an old gate and disappeared into the field.
My mind went into overdrive as I envied him and I was walking into a stressful day with the Revenue Inspector.
O That I Could Walk Down Rusty Ways
With stick in hand and dog
Plough into fields of weathered grass
Rise the pheasant
Caution the Hawk
Sink into the abundance of abandoned time
Be what I can never be
2. I HAVE AN OFFICE BESIDE THE CANAL
As an Accountant to a company; the Manager made an appointment for Friday Night which I didnít like; at the meeting we discussed the business and another meeting was arranged for the following night; Saturday which was our night out. At the meeting one of the Bankers remarked that he heard I wrote Poetry.
He asked me:
- What subjects do you write about?
- All kinds of subjects.
- Can you write a poem about an office?
- We are to meet tomorrow night?
- Are we?
- So what?
- Can you have a poem on An Office for our meeting?
- I donít know.
- Thereís a challenge for you.
I was in bad humour leaving, but as it was my livelihood; I took up the challenge. As I came to Clongowes Wood College; the first line of the poem came into my mind. I pulled into the driveway of the College; James Joyce made famous; and wrote it down:
I have an office beside the canal
Beside a waterway
Beside the perch and bream
Where waterhen and duck make a circle
And gulls throw an echo into the houses
I have a place to go when pressure builds
Where robin fills my feet with light
And finches fly in rhythm overhead
Where leaves turn mist into tears
And I can roll myself in the apron of the blackbird
Our office was beside the canal and I described our Office situation; and I wrote the lines one after another. I needed an ending:
At I passed the early branch I saw the mist being converted into water and dripping off the leaf.
- Where leaves turn mist into tears.
I loved the words ĖApron and Blackbird
-And I can in the apron of the blackbird.
I presented the poem, the following night.
3. I KNOW EVERY TREE IN THE WOOD BY NAME
One July evening I went for a walk by the liffey. As I walked into the wood beside the water; the first two lines came:
I KNOW EVERY TREE IN THE WOOD BY NAME
THE BIRDS THAT SING ARE ALMOST TAME
As usual I had no pencil and I ran home keeping the lines in my mind. I went into our house got a pencil and a piece of paper and wrote it down as I walked.
4. She lived among the wild flowers
On the evening of the 9th August 2006 My wife Kate and I took a walk along the beach at Seafield near Quilty in County Clare. We were visiting our relations. Kate walked on quickly leaving me to saunter. It was a clear evening and the sun was going down over Mutton Island. The first line of the poem came into my mind. I wrote it down and decided to follow it.
The lines carried on till I got to the fourth and I stopped and I could clearly see my mother in my mind. After this the poem took on a different flow and sentence after sentence came down. The poem took ten minutes to write. When I got to the sun going down, I looked behind me and the moon in all its fullness came up and I saw this as the natural ending.
Afterwards I worked on the lines and began to strengthen them but only succeeded in making a mess. I went back to the original and here it is:
She lived among the wild flowers
She lived among the wild flowers
Where cattle graze
And corncrake rasped the stillness
And by the sea she walked
Where the waves made furrows on her mind
She danced at the crossroads
To the sound of flute and fiddle
And her voice chanted the beauty of her place
Her spirit was free
And like the flocks of goldfinches
Moved with the melody
Her passion was for desolate places
Where alone she was never alone
Then one day he came
And she went with him
To an alien place
Into fields of strangers
And there she lived
And there she died
But her soul was always in that hallowed place
Where cuckoo romanced the bog
Calling his name over and over
Where the waves made music on the rocks
And the sun went down over Mutton Island
And the moon came up in full
To serenade the night