Saturday, 4 March 2017

Angling on the Inny

( from Wordsworth's 'poems on the naming of places')

William Wordsworth

Close to the spot where with my rod and line
angling beside the margin of the lake,
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance
a bed of water in the woods did wake.

The spot was made by nature for herself,
this glade of water and this one green field,
And if a man should plant his cottage near
a cloistered place, of refuge, shade and shield.

In that perennial shade of unencumbered floor
a single beech tree grew and on the fork
a thrush's nest conspicuously built,
Sentry on a tranquil spot, a solitary stork.

From the remotest outskirts of the grove
a few sheep, stragglers from some mountain flock
sought protection from the nipping blast
in playgrounds of their youth, on footloose rock.

Full many an hour here did I lose,
Well worn the track, unwearied and alone,
Muttering the verses which I muttered first
on blooming heath, my couch and mine alone.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


Prodigal went for a walk in the woods this morning and once again after three score and five years noticed the gradual, almost imperceptible, change in the hue and presentation of the face of the countryside. The infinitesimally slow greening of the complexion of nature. I suppose it must be true that the seasons measure all movement.

Time for a comment on ‘Seasons’.


Seasons, reasons for surviving,
Staying aliving, living through it all.
Spring is springing, wings are winging,
Rutting, strutting, nature’s call.
Blossoms peeping, acorns sleeping
Leather jackets buttoned tight,
Fleeces gambolling, foxes rambling,
Daytime stretching into night.

Pairing time, despairing time,
Eggshell smashed at toe of tree
Bull a-bellow, daffodil yellow
Next to black on back of bee.
Apple blossom mixed with cherry
Hind in waiting, past commotion,
Pheromones flying, all directions,
Rising sap in every notion.

Spring tide wades in sea of summer
Fish so skyward they might fly
Colour and stripe replacing green
Corn and barley stretching high.
Sun ballooning, young maid swooning
Scenting changes in her stretch,
Vacations ruling calendar
Frisbees in the throw and fetch.

Light shirts, short frocks, power boats
Darting forth like dragon flies
Learning not from copy books
No jumpers, socks; no scarves or ties.
Visit cousins down or upstate
Duty calls and family bonds
Grandad rocking on the porch
Skaters flit in pleasant ponds.

Apples ripen, jump from boughs
Into trampolines of grass
Worms and wasps and greedy jays
Take plenteous breakfast as they pass.
Potatoes climb up through the clay
Abandoning their mother stalk
Mother goose in grand parade
Takes her children for a walk.

Stihl saws buzzing in the woods
Logs of birch and pitching pine,
New mown hay and wheat asmell
Grapes snipped from umbilical vine.
Gathering nuts and haws and sloes
Flavour for the winter gin
Pumpkins, berries black and blue
Stain the lips like blatant sin.

Winter steals in, sobbing, sighing,
Ochre stained and yellow dyed
Life is waning, soon the dying.
Brown carpet on the country side.
Lean time, mean time, passing time
In hollows, huddles, soggy drains,
Frost and fog, ice and snow
Frequent, those distracting rains.

Christmas stories, Redbreast, robins,
Mistletoe and ivy strung,
Service at the place of worship
Parson begging, carols sung.
Time of patience, time of waiting
Sometimes hunger, often pain
Still we peek around the corner
Spring will soon be here again.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Time the Destroyer.

Dion Boucicault
‘Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.’

If you kill time, you injure eternity.

You can’t kill time; you can only spend it unwisely.

These are among my favourite quotes about that timeless subject, time. What is time and who controls it? What does time mean for each of us and how do we measure it? The Prodigal will try to describe time in layman’s terms as that is the only qualification he has for this task. What to give as a title to this attempt to describe the impossible. Death is the leveller so time must be the destroyer. That’ll do.

Time the Destroyer.

Yesterday’s cloud is today’s muddy water
Yesterday’s love is today’s lovely daughter.
Yesterday’s green is today’s flower blue
Yesterday’s dream today has come  true

I stand here a jester having tried for a king
The budgie had pedigree; just couldn’t sing
My crew went to college; I forked out the money
But the neighbours flew off with the milk and the honey.

They said I was handsome, just look at me now,
A profile like parchment, crooked drills for a brow.
I longed for a castle so stately and grave
I sleep in the corner of troglodytes cave.

Ambition I nurtured, from flicker to light
And watched it extinguish at coming of night
My hopes were the full of a mariner’s chest
They are now merely holes in my second hand vest.

We all wish for lofty not sure where to look
And the champion in waiting, in doubting is stuck
The priest at the bishop is looking in vain
And the desert is scanning the red sky for rain.

The winemaker waits for the grape to ferment
And sighs when it’s ready the first day of Lent.
The sinner repents from half-six to seven
Saint Peter then sells him a pass card for Heaven.

Tomorrows don’t happen just yesterdays past
Futures a joke and the promise can’t last.
Eyes become sockets and bodies make clay
Hopes disappear and dreams fade away.

Yesterday’s boy; today’s sturdy man?
Yesterday’s winner is today’s also-ran
Yesterday’s great ones today stand quite small
For time is the master; destroyer of all.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Roads without Bend.

On January 31st, Sebastian Barry’s new novel, ‘Days Without End’ was announced as the overall winner of the Costa Book Awards for 2016. The award was only justice for Barry who has attained cult status that is not his thing but there it is! It’s a long, long way from the mild west of Wicklow to the wild west of Missouri to write more sacred scripture but seamless for a permanent gentleman. Sebastian becomes the first writer to win the overall award on two occasions having previously been successful with his inspirational novel “The Secret Scripture”.

By way of celebrating another Irish success the Prodigal thought it apt to string a few verses together based on some of the words and phrases found in ‘Days Without End’. Any man who chooses to name his children after a sea creature, a magician and a jug deserves nothing but applause. Here it is!

Roads without Bend.

When the strength died out of his father’s earth
And hunger pinched his fallen face
He met the moon and stars up close
Mirrors of a new disgrace.

Just a fragment of legend yet to come
Hatched under a hedge in wild Missouri
No compass or map; no direction
Just forward and future and certain furore.

The hunger wolves under hunger moons
Sand and Sioux, longing and thirst,
And always the question; who would survive
It maybe came down to who caught his horse first.

Now baked, then chilled, like a sweating wall
Loose as dawn and tight as noon
Face a collection of forgotten smiles
Just there; linger note of a banshee croon.

Afoot, black acres of fallen flames
Ashes like Lent Wednesday in Sligo town
Mississippi glancing sideways at Wilsons Creek
The whip-poor-will inviting perdition down.

Snow tonsure perched on mountain top
Just a simple sight some distance ahead
Like beauty and lesser swapping places in the face
Deposits from the living in accounts of the dead.

When all options are floated, memory picks itself,
Lace and shawl of winter on the shoulders of the hills,
Peering at the past through concave lenses
Bitterness buried in unmarked drills.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


Twin brown hands cupped together
Lattice fingers underpinning,
Digits of fair Spanish weather
Have known loving and sister sinning.
Offered me a stone, a twig, a cone of pine
Abandoned by a woodland creature
The offering of friendship, simple sign,
The simple gift itself; a gift from nature.
Navacerrada; once home to Indian braves
The Navajo of the Arizona plains
Once proudest of red people, turned to slaves
Now shovelling dirt and clearing city drains.
Reservoir; no reservation here!
Guadarrama peaks, a lofty sentry
At Plaza de Los Angeles; sipping beer,
Smiling at the leaving and the entry.
He gave us home, free gratis with goodwill
No timetable, at liberty to leave or still to stay
A chalet at the summit of his hill
No yesterday, tomorrow, just today.
True lover of his legacy of Spain
Paradise of pismires, crawling free,
Not anxious for the mists or promised rain
No yearning here to visit salty sea.
We walked with him, this boy of innovation
For miles along the path; Camino Way,
With chat and song and simple recreation
“Enjoy the moment friend; live for today”.
To Spain’s Madrid we travel soon again
To meet this man and those who own his heart
Bianca, Hermann, the little Princess Sarah
And Jack, of course, who plays a special part.