Sunday, 5 October 2014


On October 2nd I gave an hour long poetry reading to a group of sixteen year old students from St Brendan's Community School in the library at Birr in celebration of the National Poetry Day. 

So to get them in the mood I asked them to close their eyes as I read 

"A dream is an early morning tide
softly gentle waves caress, 
the slopes of a slumbering mind. 
As rolling pebbles 
call memories ashore." 

A discussion followed about the images which the words evoked and in such a way the rest of the session was conducted.  

As a preparation for the occasion I had asked them to translate the first verse of the poem by Dónall Ó Conchúir, (Donal O'Connor 1847-1930), 'Dhá Chích Danann', in order for them to understand the background to my own poem.

'Dhá Chích Danann' -
"Maidin bhreá Fhómair dom cops mórshruth na méithbhreac
I gcoill chluthair cheolmhair is gan leoithne sna spéarthaibh,
An lon dubh is an smóilin go beolbhinn ar séideah,
Gach fás crainn go leor ann cnó buí in a slaodaibh.
Ag dearcadh whom tharam be thaitneamhach limo
Ar Dhá Chích Danann ag amharc anon
Is síbhrat na maidne leabhar leata os a gcionn,
Chomh bleachmhar buan bláfar, chomh hálainn óghchruth."

Translation 'The Breasts of Danu' -
"One beautiful morning beside the great stream of the fertile plain
In a cosy musical wood not a breeze in the sky
The blackbird and the thrush piping sweetly,
Every growing tree there hanging ripe with nuts.
Looking around me it delighted me
The two breasts of Danann
The mysterious fairy mist over them,
As beautiful as the top of the milk that nurtures the child
(As if they were created by God ?)"

Their translation was as perfect as the one that a friendly monk had done for me as he pored over each word and phrase using Dineen's dictionary. That particular dictionary, which covers the nuances of every Irish word, would make a blog post all of it's own - we shall see!

My own poem below describes my experience of hearing the monk's translation:

At a monastery kitchen table I sat
Listening to old Irish being translated
Clear distinct verse with hidden meanings
Spoken in soft tone like a blended prayer

Lulled, my mind by rhythm travelled
As this other language unravelled
So leaving a rich cream behind I flew
To a land where dreams weave anew

To sit with my back against She - Rowan
Who was clothed in milky lace so delicate
I inhaled deeply her fragrant blossom
A vapour that transmuted me to spirit

A wave that kisses the shores of Erin
The song of Amergin
A breath of hot air that ripens corn
Dew on Bealtaine's morn

A mist that caressed Anu's Paps

©MRL 05 - 03 - 2013

As we are approaching Winter I closed the session with "An Ode to Winter Gales". 


  1. It was a real success and the library was a beautiful background to your words.

  2. Gives me visions of a soft gentle breeze. Beautiful setting.

  3. How wonderful!
    I do want to hear you read one of these days.
    Happy Sunday, M and J!

  4. Oh what a picture you have drawn, I hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did.

    1. Thank you Janet. I hope to have planted a few seeds that may flourish in the future.

  5. Your reading voice has always been a beautiful thing, as a child your ability to weave words always left me spellbound as you told tales of magical lands! Clearly that talent is still very prevalent & in such a beautiful setting too! x

    1. Many thanks Snapdragon, What can I say except 'I bow before your superior knowledge :) "

  6. What a lucky group of 16 year olds getting to be inspired by you for the afternoon. Congratulations!! The setting is super too I didn't know that's where the library is. Lots of love x

    1. Thanks Grace, I think that this aged fuddy duddy was lucky to be invited to speak with them too and mentioning of not knowing things - I never knew that you wore glasses :)

  7. That's wonderful Mel. And I agree with Snapdragon regarding your voice, I could listen all day :)

  8. What a wonderful building ….. the perfect place for a poetry reading and good acoustics I imagine. The 16 year olds seem to be entering into the spirit of it all which is sometimes unusual for 16 year olds !!!! ….. your poetry obviously got through to them Heron. It must be lovely for you to bring your work to others as well. XXXX

    1. Hello Jacqueline. You are quite correct the acoustics were excellent and my audience were naturally reticent at first. They did though warm up somewhat when I tapped my folder telling them that there were some poems that I had been asked not read. They responded full of enthusiasm then but I said "No the powers that be are afraid of you people becoming too wired up! " and that broke the ice.

  9. Beautiful....I'm sure the students were entranced by both voice & vision.

    1. I hope so too Ita, thank you for your comment.

  10. What a lovely exercise in imagery and imagination. And how wonderful to be working with creative young minds even if they were reticent at first. The poetry is beautiful.

    1. This was my first time to give a poetry reading to young people. I prepared by asking for advice from a couple of teachers that I know and am thankful to them in sharing their wisdom; just as I am to you Val for your comment.

  11. Poems reading is a great thing . When I was a student I made poems readings for quite small childten 4-6 years and it was amazing how much attention they paid and were intetested even in the meaning of the poems. Requires a lot of imagination and about all to be openminded. Sorry my english is not so good.

  12. Wow you are s poet. How touching it sounds. .I love poems in general but especially poetry Paul Celan, R.M Rilke and Sylvia Plath. Poems are like entering an unknown world , it's music and open your heart to very special feelings. You got a gift keep it and cherish it. Chloé

    1. Thank you Chloe. I tried to read Sylvia Plath years ago - she was not for me for I found her writing to depressing. I did though enjoy her partner Ted Hughes poetry.

    2. For sure Sylvia Plath.suffered from.depression during her so short life but I must admit poems like 'I shut my eyes and all the world drop dead, I lift my lid and all is born again' makes me always shiver..The softer poems of her husband Ted Hughes couldn't save her from her dark thoughts.
      I am happy to have discovered your blog and hope to read more of your beautiful poems. Chloé

    3. Hello Chloé in case you have missed the link you will find my poetry here
      Thanking you once again :)

  13. Beautiful poems Mel, love the starter for the students. How creative you are to write such a beautiful poem after the translation.

    1. Thank you very much for your appreciation Susie.


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