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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

Editor: Matthew Sweeney

 

 

Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan

 

 

Done Dating DJs
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition

 

 

Richesses

Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes

 

 

 

 

Munster Literature Centre

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THEO DORGAN

 

 

Theo Dorgan photoTheo Dorgan is a poet, prose writer, editor, scriptwriter, translator and sailor. His books include Greek (2010), the long poem Sappho’s Daughter, his prose account of a transatlantic voyage under sail Sailing for Home, praised by Doris Lessing as “a book for everyone”, and, in 2007, A Book of Uncommon Prayer, which he compiled and edited. A further prose book, Time On The Ocean, A Voyage from Cape Horn to Cape Town, was published by New Island in 2010. He is the editor of Irish Poetry Since Kavanagh, and co-editor of Leabhar Mór na hÉireann / The Great Book of Ireland, An Leabhar Mór / The Great Book of Gaelic, the anthology Watching the River Flow and the acclaimed collection of historical essays Revising the Rising. His translations of the Slovenian poet Barbara Korun (in collaboration with the poet and Ana Jelnikar), were published as Songs of Earth and Light. He translates from the Irish and French and his own work has appeared in Italian and Spanish editions. He is a member of Aosdána.

 

 

Running with the Immortals

(This poem was commissioned by Cork City Council to mark the conferring on Sonia O'Sullivan of the Freedom of the City of Cork.)

 

 

Cobh is a great bell of silence as the sun breaks over the harbour

and the lighthouse at Roche’s Point gleams, a torch

held out to the sky, to the eternal sea.

Something has woken me early, a drum tap, footfall echoing

in the empty streets. I’m at the open window. Too late—whoever it is

has already gone by, climbing the hill, steady and sure.

 

A clear mid-winter morning, frost on the slate beneath me,

tumble of roof and chimney down to the water. Already

the ferry tracking out towards Haulbowline, the world about its business

at this ungodly hour—and someone out there running the steep

blue streets. Hard work. Cobh is nothing if not uphill

and downhill, the uphill and downhill capital of Ireland.

 

On a morning like this, a girlchild out early would be thinking of glory—

the tall bowl of the stadium, black roar of the crowd, the red track,

the bend to the straight, the finish just visible through the haze.

Easy to dream of gold, olive-wreath, ceremony and applause,

the tricolour snapping to the arc-lights overhead, brass blaze of trumpets— 

harder to rise to these winter mornings, these punishing hills,

 

yet somebody’s up and out there, out there unseen and unknown,

climbing and falling with the street, breath raw in her throat,

pushing towards the sun, pushing against a wall of cold.

Bells from the Cathedral break over the waking town

while she keeps running on self-belief into the dawn,

an ordinary girl, head down, keeping time with her shadow.

 

I turn my face to the climbing sun, remembering another world,

a tall girl surging to the line. I want to find that child’s soul and say:

talent is not enough, belief is not enough in this world;

you must push out into the lonely place where it all falls away—

and then, if you’re lucky and blessed, the friend at your shoulder,

keeping pace, will be long-legged clear-eyed Artemis herself.

 

©2009 Theo Dorgan

 

Author Links

'Gaffer': Poem and Interview in Magma

Dorgan poems and extended bio at Poetry International Web

Audio, bio and books at Dedalus

 

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