September (a poem)

Trees renounce their songs of day
To hum nocturnal scales of clay;
Played notes flee the upper stave
To kiss the cradle, now the grave;
Leaves of black-blot sycamore
In layers upon the forest floor
Effectuate repose:
Jesus died, and Jesus rose.

The dark’s voice sends a subtle thrill
To those of us that listen still
(Its mystery sustains despite
The Philistine electric light);
Two fields away the old dog fox
Is barking at the equinox;
In ancient cairns the earth awaits
The one true ray that penetrates;
Symbols of the pagan source
Illuminate our blind divorce
From what the Spirit knows:
Jesus died, and Jesus rose.

I rise early in the morning in the mist of yesterday;
Four pheasants on the back road are a blocking of the way:
Three hens; a young cock, still of muted, sober tones.
They dip below the five-bar gate;
I turn the key and then I wait
To watch them walk the hallowed ground
Between the hares’ spent grassy thrones
And otherworldly mounds of stones.
A shaft of sun repels the fog
That blankets on the waking bog,
And my mist, too, is soon dispelled
As all my quibbling doubts are quelled.

Like every leaf that yet was born,
And every stem that bore a thorn,
Jesus dies … and will rise.



Filed under Ireland, Poems

41 responses to “September (a poem)

  1. Ike Jakson


  2. Many thanks, Ike … I’m glad you liked it.

  3. Cymbeline

    Exceptional poem of great beauty.

    I have said this before, as you know.

  4. Thank you, Cymbeline. Yes, of course I remember that you liked and praised it before. Much appreciated.

  5. Cymbeline

    re-Philistine electric light – you may be interested to know that old people in Snowdonia fretted that the tylwyth teg would not be able to cross the lines of iron when the mountain railway was built.

  6. That is interesting. I suppose the tylwyth teg adapted?

    In my Up the Fields Story, there is a leprechaun that the narrator cannot see until he touches an electric fence.

  7. Cymbeline

    Very interesting. Modernity as revelatory.

    But not everything should be revealed.

  8. Cymbeline

    A query – who does the ‘he’ refer to? The narrator or the leprechaun?

  9. Cymbeline

    At 12, one still has eyes to see. The electric fence would not have worked on anyone older.

  10. Yes, that was my thinking. Whereas in the old days people could see more, our minds have changed and a jolt is necessary even for a child. Or that’s the premise of the story, in any case.

  11. Cymbeline

    12-year-olds aren’t really children.

  12. Cymbeline

    I also tend to treat pronouncements such as ‘in the old days people could see more’ with great circumspection.

  13. Cymbeline

    But I also think that you may have a special gift and a special eye for what is not ostensibly part of this modern world.

    I never suspect you of wild-eyed looniness because you are capable of being logical and mathematical in the received modern academic sense too. In fact, you are better than most at that sort of thinking.

    Sometimes I think you are too romantic about the past – but that is probably because you only show a certain surface. Not everything must be revealed, as was mentioned earlier.

    Let’s not start talking about horoscopes though.

    • Thanks, Cymbeline. Fair comment, I think.

      I’m feeling a bit frustrated at the moment because I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t been able to finish rewriting the (adult) novel that I mentioned before. There is now light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope to devote enough time to this soon.

      I made a desultory effort at marketing the Up the Fields one … I sent it to a big publisher; the response was ‘It is a beautifully written story with a great feel for rural life. I found it gentle and a little melancholy at times, yet entertaining and hopeful’ … then the ‘not suitable for our list’ part.

      I may wait now till the first one has a publisher (all going well).

      • Cymbeline

        I am always amazed at the amount of things you deal with – all sorts of things at the same time. Here, you say that you feel frustrated about a certain project, but you never come across as being submerged.

        You have great mental power.

        I naturally hope that all your literary projects will meet with success.

      • Thanks very much, Cymbeline. I did get a bit swamped for the past few months.

        I’m compiling an index for an interesting psycology book at the moment, about sexual revolutions. A lot of stuff about psychoanalysis and Franz Kafka and Otto Gross, and Munich and Berlin 100 years ago.

  14. How is life with you these days, Cymbeline?

  15. Cymbeline

    Very cuspish. I like cusps, as you know.

  16. Cymbeline

    From recently, or from several thousand years ago?

  17. Quite recently, I think. But you never know.

  18. Cymbeline … sorry, I overlooked a couple of your comments last night; they are now ‘approved’. The ‘approval’ business is a bit of a nuisance.

  19. Cymbeline

    Not a problem – it is not as though I actually say anything noteworthy, after all.

    Interesting how the idea of free speech is very hard to implement.

  20. Yes … here, one malicious and determined person can mess it up.

  21. Cymbeline

    Yes, these lengthy and rather sterile vendettas between grown men are rather a bore – mainly because they halt all concepts of complexity and individual worth.

  22. For Cymbeline, re ‘Philistine electric light’, something I wrote elsewhere:

    ‘I had a sudden insight along the lines that the life force shines most brightly through damaged vessels. I thought I could see a light around Natalie separate from the lamplight; this made me reflect that electric light, while allowing us to see, masks many things that are subtle and nebulous. Every sword has two edges.’

  23. Cymbeline

    I like that paragraph very much, but think that the last sentence detracts from its value.

    Re the idea of the life force shining most brightly through damaged vessels, I have always been interested in how the study of illness and abnormality teaches us how ‘normality’ works.

  24. Yes … you’re right. I’ll drop the last sentence. Thank you, Cymbeline.

  25. Cymbeline

    … and I’ll exchange ‘teaches us’ for ‘casts light on’ …

  26. At this point, there have been 36 genuine comments on this post and 48 crank or hate-mail ones, all from the same person …

  27. Cymbeline

    One of the most difficult choices in life is deciding whether to let things go, or fight tooth and nail. I am capable of both; so are you, and so are others.

  28. Shermeen

    So this is where all the good people come, Brendano. I wish I had not stopped visiting your site.

    Hello dear Cymbeline. I have been thinking of you a lot and it is quite wonderful to see you here. Hope you are very well.

  29. Hello Shermeen … you’re very welcome to my blog. It’s not as busy as it used to be, and I’ve been neglecting it somewhat, but it does have its moments. 🙂

  30. Cymbeline

    Hello dear Shermeen. I hope you are well too.

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