Irish poems

824_egrennanThe Irish Times has been running a contest to select the 100 best loved Irish poems (chosen by whomever responds, I guess). You can read the results here. Not surprisingly, Yeats, Heaney, and Kavanagh populate the top ten.

But here’s a poem from a poet who wasn’t included, Eamon Grennan, perhaps because he’s lived most of his adult life in the United States. It seems like a very Irish poem to me.


When I’d walked out to the sea surfing and spuming
into meerschaum heaps of lettuce-tinted gauze,
breakers becoming light then noise, the ocean raging
and rearranging this long spit of sand like a life
at the mercy of circumstance, I saw the north wind

drive trillions of sandgrains to scour every last trace
of what the previous tide had done, and gulls snatch
huge clamshells from the swirl and smash them
to get at and gobble each salt, soft-bodied helplessness
at the heart of its own broken home, and I felt caught

between water-violence and the gulls’ patience,
between shifting ground I stood on and the thunder-
turbulence of water, between a slowly disappearing
ceiling of cloud and the blue sky-cupola it leaves
behind, between titanic ocean-roar and the ticking heart.

Eamon Grennan

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