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Tomás Ó Cárthaigh + Seamus Heaney

T_O_CBorn in Ballinasloe in County Galway, Ireland, Tomás Ó Cárthaigh grew up in Offaly and currently lives and works in Tullamore in the north of Co. Offaly.
Writing for Tomás is a passion, he was the winner of the Readings from the Pallet festival in Banagher in 2010, and also featured at the Poets Express festival in Bantry in 2009 and 2010. He’s been published in online magazines among them Danse Macabre, Immagine & Poesia, Whisper n Thunder among others, and also Irelands Poetry Bus.
He runs his own magazine Cartys Poetry Journal. Tomás writes haiku / haiban and rhyming poetry mainly, occasionaly dabbling in free verse.

http://cartyspoetryjournal.com/Issue_06/CPJ-VI.pdf

“_I love reading others’ work too, and the work of the three Roberts, Burns, Frost and Service have been a major influence on me, as have the Irish writers Yeats, Colum and Moore… I like to write old fashioned poetry… you know… the boring kind that rhymes!!! I write on all topics, from the current train of thought-“

♦  “The Woman Behind The Veil”  ↓

¤  More video poems →http://www.youtube.com/user/tomasocarthaigh

•  Read . . .

→ http://www.writerscafe.org/TomasOCarthaigh

→ http://poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/tomas_o_carthaigh_2008_4.pdf

→ http://www.celtichosting.com/writingsinrhyme/Site/Contents_Page.html

→ http://www.writingsinrhyme.com/

¤  Seamus Heaney   ↓  [1939-2013] 

⇓  ‘Mid Term Break’ 

Seamus Heaney reading his poem about his younger brother’s death, when he was a pupil at college in Derry. 

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying–
He had always taken funerals in his stride–
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were “sorry for my trouble,”
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

♦  “Digging”  ↓

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

♦ “Blackberry Picking” ↓

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes.

Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

♦  “The Blackbird of Glanmore” ↓

On the grass when I arrive,
Filling the stillness with life,
But ready to scare off
At the very first wrong move.
In the ivy when I leave.

It’s you, blackbird, I love.

I park, pause, take heed.
Breathe. Just breathe and sit
And lines I once translated
Come back: “I want away
To the house of death, to my father

Under the low clay roof.”

And I think of one gone to him,
A little stillness dancer –
Haunter-son, lost brother –
Cavorting through the yard,
So glad to see me home,

My homesick first term over.

And think of a neighbour’s words
Long after the accident:
“Yon bird on the shed roof,
Up on the ridge for weeks –
I said nothing at the time

But I never liked yon bird.”

The automatic lock
Clunks shut, the blackbird’s panic
Is shortlived, for a second
I’ve a bird’s eye view of myself,
A shadow on raked gravel

In front of my house of life.

Hedge-hop, I am absolute
For you, your ready talkback,
Your each stand-offish comeback,
Your picky, nervy goldbeak –
On the grass when I arrive,

In the ivy when I leave.

♦  ‘Death Of A Naturalist’  ↓

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.

Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.
Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.

♦  “The Road To Derry”  ↓

Along Glenshane and Foreglen
and the cold woods of Hillhead:
A wet wind in the hedges and a dark cloud on the mountain
And flags like black frost
mourning that the thirteen men were dead
The Roe wept at Dungiven and the Foyle cried out to heaven,
Burntollet’s old wound opened and again the Bogside bled;
By Shipquay Gate I shivered and by Lone Moor I enquired
Where I might find the coffins where the thirteen men lay dead.
My heart besieged by anger, my mind a gap of danger.
I walked among their old haunts.
the home ground where they bled;
And in the dirt lay justice like an acorn in the winter
Till its oak would sprout in Derry
where the thirteen men lay dead.

♦  “Postscript”  ↓  [read by Joseph Nugent]

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass 
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

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