Two contemporary poems and some fantastic music from this album –
In Gorse Blog 2 we met ‘The Blackbird of Belfast Loch / Lon Dubh Loch Lao’. Mary Shannon’s poem ‘Syllables Rising’ was inspired by Ciaran Carson’s translation set to music by Ulaid and Duke Special.
Old Irish syllabic verse in the margin
of a ninth century manuscript rises as
the Scribe’s and Poet’s word merge.
Twelve centuries on the Belfast Blackbird’s
dulcet song rises from the verge.
Notes let go, swirl around Malachy’s
medieval wall and as the little bird takes
flight, the lough’s ink-black shallows
are washed with light from sunset’s
Lon dubh loch lao perches for choral
evensong on an altar of sunlit whin:
his sweet tune carries on warm winds.
As dusk falls, inky-feathers fly to nest
as centuries old eye-rings scan the
hedgerows for Pangur Bán.
The poem appears in Poetry in Motion Community anthology 2019/20 compiled from entries to the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing.
Mairéad Breen brings gorse and hawthorn together:
This time of year I fall in love with
the jazz of Maytime blossoms
on gorse and hawthorn bushes
that make a show of rough ditches
hemming lush emerald fields, and
patchworking proud rugged slopes
that lord it over grassy valleys
lazing under warm June sun.
Homely gorse, mostly overlooked,
cinderellas in spring with blazing
clumps of orange-gold blooms that
linger for months, everywhere.
Happy hawthorn’s my favourite –
sprays heavy with pink-white flowers
dangle, dance and tease
and ooze nectar-sweet perfume.
© 2019, Mairead Breen. All rights reserved.
Mary Shannon is a member of Wilde Writers◊ creative writing group. She won The Heather Newcombe Poetry Award 2019 and was Runner Up in The Bangor Literary Journal Aspects Festival 2019. Poems published: Community Arts Partnership: 2018/19 and 2019/20; Lagan Navigation Trust: 2018 and 2019. In 1999 she produced and contributed to an anthology of children’s poetry to raise funds for the N.I. Children’s Hospice. She enjoys art and crafts and her painting ‘Flowers For a Lady’ hangs in the Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital. @MaryBShannon
Mairéad Breen A native of Co Armagh, Mairéad Breen settled in South Down several decades ago. She’s a peripatetic teacher of young people with special needs and on her daily work journeys is captivated by the golden displays of gorse that enhance and enliven the countryside for much of the year, a reminder of her childhood by Slieve Gullion where whins flourished and blazed on nearly every ditch, field and mountain slope. She began writing poetry relatively recently and writes short stories, flash fiction and memoir. Some of her writing has been published in anthologies and online.
◊Wilde Writers describe themselves as “a reincarnation of two creative writing groups of the wonderful Joan Carberry (tutor, poet, short story writer and all-round legend): the Whiterockers (West Belfast) and the Ballyhackers (East Belfast). These groups go back many years and formed a refuge for (among others) the recently retired. The groups merged when Joan retired and fell under the wide, embracing wing of poet Shelley Tracey and includes dreamy poets, forensic memoirists and short story and flash fiction fiends. Since the lockdown the current group has successfully moved into Google Classroom with the ever-patient Shelley.”