Saturday, January 30, 2010

War Poems III

War poems.

Reading through Tom French's "Touching The Bones" there is a very powerful piece called "Pity the Bastards" and apt if only for those at war with themselves and as good as any written, even if not intended as such. Gold as they say is where you find it. Books on war or war poems are ten a penny but maybe one of the best ever written was Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels" a 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the battle of Gettysburg and borrowed from by Steve Earle for his ballad of Buster Kilraine (Dixieland). Back to powerful writing. Look it up for yourself on youtube or wikipedia. Give yourself a treat. Tom French's book can be had from the library or any good bookstore.

Photo: Old graveyard Robinstown Co. Meath.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

War Poems II

And still on the theme of war.

The Dead Wood.

Down here in the long grass
It was hard to tell
Whose side you were on.

You cut through the dead wood
And it was all the same
The medieval look
Both ways.

Couldn't kill you pretty like
Pushing a button
The two edged sword.

Frank Murphy.
Photo: Gormanston Beach Co. Meath.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

War Poems

War Poems.

Leafing through a book of poems on the First World War (gathering dust for a long time) I noticed that Francis Ledwidge wasn't mentioned anywhere, although W.B. Yeats got more than a few lines included and rightly so. Some of the best and most powerful poems ever written touch on the above, though I can't say that I deliberately seek them out. Only a few stick in the mind.

Alan Seeger's "Rendezvous" or John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields", of note, while the old school books had more than their fair share, commit to memory or else! The anti-war movement of the 60s and the contemporary ballad scene have contributed any number of war poems and for getting a really powerful message across it's hard to beat Dylan or Steve Earle. Try "Dixieland/Steve Earle" or "Masters of War/Bob Dylan". Many others.
Photo: Dangan Church and Summerhill in the distance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The Meath Writers' Circle had their first meeting of the New Year on Thursday night at the Castle Hotel in Trim, though given the night that was in it, I had to make do with "Arena" and the post-apocalyptic world of "The Road" and Cormac McCarthy. A bit like looking out of the window. A world of frozen pipes and flat batteries and abandoned cars. Apart from that there's a poetry competition in Strokestown with a closing date of February the 5th for those who are interested, with details on the Poetry Ireland site. There used to be a few others at this time of year, but I don't see them listed anymore. Good luck with the competition!
The big freeze: Kilmessan Village/January 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day!

Well maybe not a house in the fields, but a church!

A House in the Fields.

The crumbling walls and faded dreams
Memories of what might have been
The twilight world that lives within
Where daylight ends and night begins.

A curtain through a broken pane
An invalid's supporting frame
The laughter, sadness, joy and tears.
A gate that hangs on broken piers.

Along a winding track that leads
Down to a garden overgrown
With weeds.
And apple trees all gone to seed
With no one left to tend their needs.

And rooks that earn their daily bread
As sentinels that guard its dead
Its empty rooms and rusted tin.
A house in the fields
Too scared to go in.

Frank Murphy.
Photo: Church of Ireland Tara Co. Meath.