Artist

Alexander Averin

Friday, 16 July 2010

Before the famine



Before the famine

On the western tip of Europe
reaching out to Dingle Bay,
a cottage sits, thatched, gilded and always lit up
by the influence of God, or by rainbows
from the mountain rains and the sometimes sun.
Did I dream you into being?
Lying overgrown and ripe, in need of care,
your mellow garden is steeped in wild flowers
while turf is stacked against your stony walls.
Through a wooden door of oxblood red
you welcome me quietly into chiaoscuro light.
Ancestral memories have always sung to me
of your whitewashed walls and your truckle bed.
Now I yearn to sleep there by the glow of oil lamps
in the little alcove beside your hearth.
There, upon your paved floors of slate, lasting and true,
are patchworks and flowers,
a scented geranium in a metal pail.
A crucifix hangs upon a wall,
a rosary by its side.
A meal has been laid on the table:
there are foods that are staple:
potatoes, bread, butter in churns
and the purest honey from the hive.

Cait O’Connor

Painting by James Anderson

14 comments:

Poet in Residence said...

Cait, the cottage reminds me of my wonderful holiday in Ireland about 3 years ago and my overnight B&B stay on a farm in Dingle and that on the end of the Dingle peninsula I saw a green sunset flash clear as a laser beam. The famous Dingle dolphin I didn't see but I did see 4 dolphins showing-off off the Ring of Kerry at Waterville.
That quote of WBY's, I have trouble with it. What is he saying? Is he saying that his dreams should be more important to the other than the other's own dreams?
best of bardic,
gwilym

jane said...

Dingle Bay sounds idyllic - I don't know to much about traditional Ireland - but I visited the Shetland Isles 2 years back and was amazed at the natural light and the colours were so fresh and top marks for your poem

Fennie said...

Whenever I find an old ruined cottage I try to go inside and imagine who lived there and how they lived. Most ruined houses speak only of sadness and want, of petty cruelties and longing. But in between these dark tones comes little shoots of happiness - a birthday or a first love, a present or some piece of good fortune. It is these memories that I try to capture, the fleeting happy moments when all despair has vanished in the brightness of the June sunshine.

Friko said...

This sounds like something coming from the heart, something you remembred from long ago. Is that so?

Thank you for joining the followers panel.

seema gupta said...

beautifull words to read.

regards

Ruth said...

There is really something about those cottages that pulls out the same longing in me as you expressed beautifully in your verse. What came in the famine is almost unspeakable, so incredibly hard it must have been.

I love your header, of one of my very favorite illustrators. That particular one hung on my kitchen wall when we were first married.

Mark said...

It reminds me of the watch house at Llanrhian near Porthgain in Pembrokeshire. John Knapp Fisher paints these old cottages so well

ds said...

Beautiful poem, Cait. Someday I hope to see Ireland. The painting of the cottage truly speaks; together they make for a perfect post. Thank you.

Pondside said...

I've learned that when you write 'just a little poem' that I'd best hie on over to your blog for a treat.
I've never been to Ireland, but this poem makes me think of everything I've learned about the famine - how it came on so quickly, and the tragedy that followed.
I love the painting in your header - I could live in that room!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"Ancestral memories".
always beautiful, always powerful.

Nan said...

Oh, Cait, this is perfect. I can see it all. And I love the favorite beloved Irish foods - potatoes, bread, butter, honey - my staples indeed. And it was such a delight to open your blog and see the Larsson picture. I so love his work.

In the Arnaldur Indridason book I'm reading, the policeman likes to go back to his rural childhood home even though it is deserted and run down. He likes to sleep on the floor.

reberto.alberto said...

Hi there!

Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

Happy writing!

In a Welsh garden said...

This is a beautiful piece of writing. It definately struck a chord .My Great Great Grandfather arrived in England ,an orphan,aged two years , to live with two aunts , having lost both parents to an influenza epidemic . I can only begin to imagine .

I used to live near an area down by the river Mersey in Liverpool - named 'The Dingle ' - so named because most of the original settlers there hailed from - yes, Dingle Bay in Ireland - having arrived in Liverpool escaping one of the potato famines .

An incredible ,incredible history . Thankyou for sharing this .

CAMILLA said...

Thank you for that beautiful Poem and wonderul story Cait. I have never been to Ireland but would just love to have a cottage there to rent. My neighbours in London were from Ireland and I used to love hearing about how beautiful it was there.

Hope you will consider the Storybooknet Cait, you are such a gifted writer.

xx