Tag Archives: Michael Hartnett

Poem for Lara, 10

A poem that Michael Hartnett wrote for his daughter, Lara, when she was ten years old.

An ash-tree on fire
the hair of your head
coaxing larks
with your sweet voice
in the green grass,
a crowd of daisies
playing with you
a crowd of rabbits
dancing with you
the blackbird
with its gold bill
is a jewel for you
the goldfinch
with its sweetness
is your music.
You are perfume,
you are honey, a wild strawberry:
even the bees think you
a flower in the field.
Little queen of the land of books,
may you always be thus
may you ever be free
from sorrow-chains.

Here’s my blessing for you, girl,
and it is no petty grace –
may you have the beauty of your mother’s soul
and the beauty of her face.


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Filed under Ireland, Literature, Poems

Michael Hartnett again

This is the seventh poem in Michael Hartnett’s A Farewell to English.

The road is not new.
I am not a maker of new things.
I cannot hew
out of the vacuumcleaner minds
the sense of serving dead kings. Continue reading


Filed under Ireland, Poems

Michael Hartnett (1941–1999)

[First posted on MyT]

Michael Hartnett was a poet and translator from Croom, Co. Limerick (where I was born) who had a great way with language – Irish, which he preferred, as well as English. He was a harsh critic of the mores of the Irish state – particularly its failures in relation to the language and culture – and of what he saw as bourgeois complacency and mediocrity. His own culture was a very old one.

Hartnett lived in Madrid (he was a great admirer of Lorca), London and Dublin before returning to his base in rural Limerick, and translated poetry from Hungarian as well as seventeenth-century Irish. Continue reading


Filed under Ireland, Poems