I came to poetry late in life I cannot recall ever learning poetry in school, yet I was always an avid reader. In 2006 when poetry found me I grew to be interested in poets, male and female. African, American, Persian, Iraqi’s and British but I have an affinity with Irish poets. I greatly admire Seamus Heaney, W B Yeats but Patrick Kavanagh to me depicts everything that is Irish. He came from the sod, he knew about the sod, he wrote about the sod, he was the sod.
Monday November 9th I attended 150th Anniversary of W B Yeats at the Red House, Merthyr. Damien Walford Davies chair of Literature Wales was the host for the evening. Main speaker was Ambassador for Ireland Daniel Mulhall. The event was well organised and all seats were sold. The room oozed Welsh history, the glass ceiling was beautiful; I could hear the wind outside whistling a Celtic lament.
The Ambassador was a great admirer of W B Yeats and he spoke with great knowledge on W B Yeats and so he should. Ambassador later spoke on other Irish poets and writers, Seamus Heaney, Joyce, Shaw and Beckett. I was agitated because he never mentioned Patrick Kavanagh. The Ambassador spoke on Easter 1916 and the 100th anniversary of the Easter uprising which will be April next year.
I will divert here but it is relevant to the evening. I was the only person in that room that had a relative who witnessed, The Easter Uprising, Kevin Barry’s demise and the Anglo-Irish war. My grandmother was born in Dublin 1899 and lived through Ireland’s tragic, yet beautiful history. My Grandfather was part of the Anglo-Irish war. Uncle were in the Irish Brother hood later called IRA.
Joyce, Shaw, Beckett wrote on Irish Literature while living nowhere near Ireland. W B Yeats came from an Anglo-Irish wealthy protestant family. He lived in an Ivory tower sat on a cushion of money and often contradicted himself. Despite his Fenian past he was an advocate for home rule. He remained silent on the Irish revolution, avoided taking any political stance in public, he was astonished by the Easter Uprising of 1916. His poem “Easter 1916” was not published till 1920. W B Yeats fell out with Arthur Griffiths one of the founders of the political movement Sinn Fein. W B Yeats thought of leaving Ireland during the conflict and moving to Italy or Japan. However, in 1922 he became a Senator in the new Irish Free State Dáil. Despite all this I do like his poetry.
I was surprised that the Ambassador did not mention the Anglo-Irish War or Patrick Kavanagh but I waited until the end of the evening. I waited behind two people then I introduced myself to the Ambassador, he shook my hand he had a very good handshake I liked that. I asked him why he did not mention Patrick Kavanagh. He looked shocked then he said “Yes I should have mentioned him” then spoke about an event he attended in October The Windharp, Poems from Ireland since 1916. An anthology of Irish poets. My favourite Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh is there. I decided to forgive the Daniel Mulhall. I asked him why he did not call the event of 1919 to 1921 by its proper name the Anglo-Irish War he said he did, I disagreed.
I have written an unpublished book,a true love story about my Grandparents. I show and tell of Irish and Welsh political and social history from 1839 1957 and how true love conquers all.
They laughed at one I loved-
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love’s doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.
Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.
But now I am back in her briary arms
The dew of an Indian Summer morning lies
On bleached potato – stalks
What age am I
I do not know what age I am
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women.
Nothing of Cities.
I cannot die.
Unless I walk outside those whitethorn hedges.
I adore Patrick Kavanagh poetry and his books Tarry Flynn and The Green Fool. I belief that Patrick Kavanagh should be national poet of Ireland never W B Yeats but I think the Ambassador will disagree.