Archives for posts with tag: Irish authors

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An Irishman’s home is his…porous border??
by Robert O’Mochain

My childhood home had an unlocked front door that welcomed customers, friends, acquaintances, and all manner of wayfarers. The joys of having a motor business next door in 1970s rural Ireland! At any moment of the day, Mam would hear a tap on the glass section of the front door or a quick rap on its silver letter slot that bore the word “litir” in Celtic script, a reflection of the enthusiasm of Irish language revivalists back in the 1930s. “Could you change a cheque for me, missus,” shouted across the glass panel by a farmer in cow-shit wellingtons. “Is the young lad there to wash the car?” would dispatch me to the carwash and cow-shit vehicles.

My scopic drive absorption in the glittering images of television was shattered by those friends of the family who dropped by every now and then with no particular purpose in mind. They updated us on what they had heard and asked us what we had heard about the people who formed the warp and weft of community imagination. Who was in hospital, who had died, what were the wake and funeral arrangements; who was getting married, who were they related to, how many were going to the reception? Voicing out parish banalities in loud but warm voices, the interlopers marred my viewing pleasures and made me dream of the middle-class homes of television world. In that world, people would ring the doorbell of sturdy front doors, they would arrive for the party, they would leave at the appointed time. I suspected that world might be a product of fantasy.

Now, my childhood world seems like fantasy. I live secure and solitary in my apartment, protected by intercom and politeness. “Something’s lost and something’s gained.”

Photo by Gleren Meneghin on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert O’Mochain belongs to Ritsumeikan University’s College of International Relations in Kyoto, Japan. His modest literary endeavours include public readings of Yeats, essays on Irish patriot Sir Roger Casement, and efforts to find a publisher for an essay on Beckett’s “Not I.”

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WINDS OF MAY
by James Joyce

Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
Dancing a ring-around in glee
From furrow to furrow, while overhead
The foam flies up to be garlanded,
In silvery arches spanning the air,
Saw you my true love anywhere?
Welladay! Welladay!
For the winds of May!
Love is unhappy when love is away!

IMAGE: “The Stormy Sea” by Claude Monet (1840-1926).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish author considered by many critics to have written the greatest novel of all time, Ulysses (1922). Other works include Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce is known for his experimental use of language, extensive use of interior monologue, symbolism, and his puns, allusions, and invented words.

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THE YOUNG MAY MOON
by Thomas Moore

The young May moon is beaming, love.
The glowworm’s lamp is gleaming, love.
How sweet to rove
Through Morna’s grove,
When the drowsy world is dreaming, love!
Then awake! The heavens look bright, my dear.
‘Tis never too late for delight, my dear.
And the best of all ways
To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear.

IMAGE: “Falling for You” by Jerry McElroy. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Dublin, Ireland, Thomas Moore (1779–1852) was a poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, best remembered for the lyrics of “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer.” He is the author of a biography of Lord Byron (1830), Irish Melodies (1808-1834), and Lalla Rookh (1817). In 1793, at age 14,  he contributed the first of his verses to a Dublin periodical, the Anthologia Hibernica. In June 1794, Moore became one of the first Catholics admitted to Trinity College, Dublin. His last work was the massive History of Ireland (1835-1846).

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THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

BACKGROUND: When Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a child, his father read to him from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. While a teenager, Yeats wished to imitate Thoreau by living on Innisfree, an uninhabited island in Lough Gill [County Sligo, Ireland]. Yeats would visit the land at Lough Gill at night — the trips taking him from the streets of Sligo to the remote areas around the lake, offering the contrasting images of the city and nature that appear in the poem’s text. While living in London, Yeats would walk down Fleet Street and long for the seclusion of a pastoral setting such as the isle. The sound of water coming from a fountain in a shop window reminded Yeats of the lake, and it is this inspiration that Yeats credits for the creation of the poem, written in 1888, when he was 23. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, Country Sligo, Ireland” by the Irish Image Collection. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,  the first Irishman so honored, for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize. (SOURCE: wikipedia.org.)

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WHEN YOU ARE OLD
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at fineartamerica.com.

Image“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)

October 16, 2013 marks the 159th anniversary of the birth of Irish author and legendary wit Oscar Wilde —  playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, and children’s book author.

Today, Wilde is most often cited for his pithy remarks, including:

  • There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. 
  • Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
  • I never put off till tomorrow what I can do the day after.
  • Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
  • A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a fool. They are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me.
  • The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for.
  • Only the shallow know themselves. 



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“Keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

Photo: “Window washing, New York City” by Eric Hancock, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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A prolific reader, former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2003 released a list of his 21 favorite books. Clinton, who honors his Irish ancestry, has a special place in his heart for  Irish poet William Butler Yeats. To celebrate Bill’s love of poetry and Will’s poetic genius, we include below one of our favorite Yeat’s poems.

WHEN YOU ARE OLD
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.