Guest poem submitted by Frank O'Shea:
(Poem #1878) Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin
'Erected to the Memory of Mrs. Dermot O'Brien' O commemorate me where there is water, Canal water preferably, so stilly Greeny at the heart of summer, Brother Commemorate me thus beautifully. Where by a lock Niagariously roars The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands A swan goes by head low with many apologies. Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy And other far-flung towns mythologies. O commemorate me with no hero-courageous Tomb -- just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.
Any poem about, or set at, a canal, has to remind me of Patrick Kavanagh. What are known as his "canal-bank poems" come from a time when he was recuperating after an operation in which he had a lung removed. They are gentle and ruminative, in places self-deprecatory. This is my favourite - how about that swan? Kavanagh showed that the mundane and the ordinary can form the basis for fine poetry. In a note to Poem #971 ("Raglan Road"), I pointed out that as requested here, he is commemorated by a seat on the Grand Canal. There is now also a bronze of him on another seat - but you cannot sit beside the poet for a photograph because he has placed his hat strategically where someone might sit. He was a prickly character at the best of times, so it is appropriate that he should be figuratively keeping people at arm's length. Kavanagh was in the news some time ago when Russell Crowe tried to recite the following early Kavanagh poem at a BAFTA Awards ceremony and had to be physically removed from the stage. It is said that this ruckus was what caused him to be overlooked for the Oscar he should have received for A Beautiful Mind. "Sanctity" To be a poet and not know the trade To be a lover and repel all women Twin ironies by which great saints are made The agonising pincer-jaws of heaven. -- Patrick Kavanagh Frank O'Shea.