Monday, May 10, 2010

Neglected Poets: Patrick MacDonogh

Given the fact that The Gallery Press published a selection of his poems in 2001 (with a fine introduction by Derek Mahon), it may be inaccurate to describe Patrick MacDonogh (1902-1961) as a "neglected poet."  If you have not yet encountered his verse, it is well worth searching out.  The following poems may be found in the The Gallery Press edition.


This wind that howls about our roof tonight
And tears live branches screaming from great trees
Tomorrow may have scarcely strength to ruffle
The rabbit's back to silver in the sun.

Dodona, in northern Greece, was reputed to be the site of a grove of oak trees in which an oracle spoke through the rustling of the leaves.  In "Dodona's Oaks Were Still," a man heads to the hills to find solitude and truth.  These are the closing lines:

He hoped to see the whole
Diverse and complicated world
Fold up and pack itself into his soul
The way a walnut's packed.
The lonely fool,
Squatting among the heavy mountain shapes,
Looked on the wet black branches and the red,
Followed the urgent branches to their tips
And back again through twig and stem to root,
Always alone and busy with himself,
Enquiring if this world of decent men
Must be hell's kitchen to the end of time,
Because of that old crime, incorrigible pride,
Strong powers of angels soured by impotence,
Rebellious godhead working its hot way
Through tangled veins.
He cried in pain towards the writhing trees,
But heard no voice.
Dodona's oaks were still.

And I will close with this:


Now I remember nothing of our love
So well as the crushed bracken and the wings
Of doves among dim branches far above --
Strange how the count of time revalues things!

No comments: