Mary Black : She Moves Through The Fair

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 4

A Song by Mary Black

A Poem by Eavan Boland

A Painting by Peter Dee

Today one of the definitive Irish Traditional Songs sung by the regal Mary Black and an extraordinarily powerful Poem by an Irish Poet of world stature, Eavan Boland.

The Painting today is by a contemporary Irish Artist, Peter Dee, whose arresting and highly covetable Still Life works are the fruit of deep contemplation and confident technical accomplishment.

More examples of his work can be seen at http://www.peterdee.ie

She Moves Through The Fair is a Song that we will never get to the bottom of.

It contains details of everyday life and a mysterious, swirling, intermingling of the known and supernatural Worlds we all move within.

There are some sorrows, some griefs, that can only be borne through Song being too deep for common speech.

The common speech of hand clapping dealers striking bargains at the fair.

While we move, half-blind, through our lives the stars look down and the swans fly over the lake.

All the while the soft fluttering of moths fill the night and dew will glisten on the meadow.

While we bear our burden of loss and longing the wide world turns and turns oblivious.

All as we move through the fair.

Through the fair.

Mary Black’s singing embodies the humanity and the other worldliness of the song with glowing assurance.

Mary Black can flat out sing!

 

She Moves Through The Fair

I once had a sweetheart, I loved her right well
I loved her far better than my tongue can tell
Her parents did slight me for the want of guile
Adieu to all pleasure since I lost my dear

She went away from me and moved through the fair
Where hand-clapping dealers’ loud shouts rent the air
The sunlight around her did sparkle and play
Saying, “It will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day”

When dew falls on meadows and moths fill the night
When glow from the greesach on half-froze, half-light
I’ll slip from my casement and I’ll run away
Then it will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day

I dreamed last night that my love came in
She came in so easy, her feet made no din
She came stepping up to me and this she did say
“It will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day”

Eavan Boland’s Poetry is characterised by fierce intelligence and a determination to fearlessly examine the toxins of Ireland’s history as understood and experienced by a modern Irish Woman.

So, it is a Poetry which utters outrage, anger and bewildered frustration as well as ease and joy.

I sometimes feel as if her work has served to redraw the map of Irish Poetry – significantly expanding the imaginative territory and cutting a path for others to follow.

The Poem I have selected today is the work of a Major Poet.

Eavan Boland : Quarantine

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north
.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

 

Vintage Enamelware with Fruit Still Life

 

 

Recommended Websites :

Poetry And Environment (https://helkc4.wordpress.com)

Helen Harrison is an Irish Poet whose work I admire for its lovely evocations of the dignity and Wonder present in, ‘Everyday Life’.

I recommend her  collection, ‘The Last Fire’  published by Lapwing.

I chanced upon a copy of Ron Carey’s debut Poetry Collection, ‘Distance’ when it was published by Revival Press in 2015.

I must have nearly read the whole marvellous collection in one gulp!

These are Poems that will stay with you.

Ron’s site can be found at roncareypoetry.com.

Twitter : @RonCarey49

Ger Wolfe : The Curra Road

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 3

A Song by Ger Wolfe

A Poem written and read by Richard Murphy (1927 – 2018)

A Painting by Paul Kelly

Today a farewell homage to one of Ireland’s most treasured Poets – Richard Murphy and what I am sure for many of you will be an introduction to a singer/songwriter particularly close to my own heart, Ger Wolfe, whose stature as an artist has not yet been properly reflected in popular awareness.

The painting today is by a contemporary Irish Artist, Paul Kelly, whose landscapes of County Dublin cast a spell.

You can explore his work further at http://www.paulkellyart.ie

 

Ger Wolfe in ‘The Curra Road’ has written a song that beautifully captures the sense of being at home and at peace in the physical, emotional and spiritual landscape of Home.

The hallowed Home we always want to carry within us as we walk down other roads on our pilgrimage through Life..

The Curra Road is undoubtedly a classic Irish Song and its luminous lyricism is entirely characteristic of Ger Wolfe’s catalogue.

I heard a story the other day that Bob Dylan would test out the compatibility of prospective musicians by asking, sotto voce, do you know, ‘Pretty Peggy-O’?

If the answer was Yes and they could follow and augment Bob’s version they were hired!

I have the same sort of test for anyone who considers themselves well informed on Irish Music – Do you know, ‘The Curra Road’?

If the answer is Yes I’m up to the Bar to buy them a pint – content there will lots to talk about that evening!

 

The Curra Road

In the summer we’ll go walking
Way down to the river down the Curra road
There’s a blue sky we’ll walk under
Listen to the humming bees and on we’ll go
We won’t worry about the Winter
Worry ‘bout it raining , 
worry about the snow
In the summer we’ll go walking
Way down to the river down the Curra road

Past the cattle at their grazing
Through the woods of hazel, holly, birch and oak
Past the robin on the gatepost
Singing to the bluebells, sunlight is their host
We won’t worry about the radio
Worry about the traffic, worry about the phone
In the summer we’ll go laughing
Way down to the river down the dusty road

There is music in the river
Listen to it dancing underneath the bridge
And the wind is hardly breathing
Words onto the willow branches overhead
We won’t worry about the government
Worry about the video, worry about the day
In the summer we’ll go waltzing
Hand in hand together down the dusty way

Ger Wolfe has an informative website : https://gerwolfe.com

You can’t go wrong with any of his CDs – my favourites are, ‘I Have Been Loved’, ‘No Bird Sang’ and, ‘The Ragged Ground’.

I’m eagerly anticipating a forthcoming compilation, ‘The Lark Of Mayfield’.

 

Richard Murphy, who died at the end of January this year, had tremendous poetic gifts and a capacity for disciplined hard work at his craft over many decades.

His collection, ‘The Pleasure Ground: Poems 1952-2012’ (Lilliput Press) is a must-have for anyone interested in modern Irish Poetry.

Murphy had deep feeling for the Irish landscape and the Seas around The Island (and its offshore Islands).

There is a profound physicality present in his verse which makes responding to his work an uplifting whole-body experience..

I have always been particularly impressed by his ability to make history come alive in verse especially through long narratives allowing for exposition, diversions and deliberation.

Reading Richard Murphy will open up new imaginative territory and offer revelatory perspectives on the worlds we imagined we knew well.

Listen to him below reading one of his early triumphs – ‘Sailing To An Island’

Such sinewy, living language!

 

 

SAILING TO AN ISLAND

The boom above my knees lifts, and the boat
Drops, and the surge departs, departs, my cheek
Kissed and rejected, kissed, as the gaff sways
A tangent, cuts the infinite sky to red
Maps, and the mast draws eight and eight across
Measureless blue, the boatmen sing or sleep
.

We point all day for our chosen island,
Clare, with its crags purpled by legend:
There under castles the hot O’Malleys,
Daughters of Granuaile, the pirate queen
Who boarded a Turk with a blunderbuss,
Comb red hair and assemble cattle.
Across the shelved Atlantic groundswell
Plumbed by the sun’s kingfisher rod,
We sail to locate in sea, earth and stone
The myth of a shrewd and brutal swordswoman
Who piously endowed an abbey.
Seven hours we try against wind and tide,
Tack and return, making no headway.
The north wind sticks like a gag in our teeth.

Encased in a mirage, steam on the water,
Loosely we coast where hideous rocks jag,
An acropolis of cormorants, an extinct
Volcano where spiders spin, a purgatory
Guarded by hags and bristled with breakers.

The breeze as we plunge slowly stiffens:
There are hills of sea between us and land,
Between our hopes and the island harbour.
A child vomits. The boat veers and bucks.
There is no refuge on the gannet’s cliff.
We are far, far out: the hull is rotten,
The spars are splitting, the rigging is frayed,
And our helmsman laughs uncautiously.

What of those who must earn their living
On the ribald face of a mad mistress?
We in holiday fashion know
This is the boat that belched its crew
Dead on the shingle in the Cleggan disaster.

Now she dips, and the sail hits the water.
She luffs to a squall; is struck; and shudders.
Someone is shouting. The boom, weak as scissors,
Has snapped. The boatman is praying.
Orders thunder and canvas cannodades.
She smothers in spray. We still have a mast;
The oar makes a boom. I am told to cut
Cords out of fishing-lines, fasten the jib.
Ropes lash my cheeks. Ease! Ease at last:
She wings to leeward, we can safely run.
Washed over rails our Clare Island dreams,
With storm behind us we straddle the wakeful
Waters that draw us headfast to Inishbofin
.

The bows rock as she overtakes the surge.
We neither sleep nor sing nor talk,
But look to the land where the men are mowing.
What will the islanders think of our folly?

The whispering spontaneous reception committee
Nods and smokes by the calm jetty.
Am I jealous of these courteous fishermen
Who hand us ashore, for knowing the sea
Intimately, for respecting the storm
That took nine of their men on one bad night
And five from Rossadillisk in this very boat?
Their harbour is sheltered. They are slow to tell
The story again. There is local pride
In their home-built ships.
We are advised to return next day by the
mail.

But tonight we stay, drinking with people
Happy in the monotony of boats,
Bringing the catch to the Cleggan market,
Cultivating fields, or retiring from America
With enough to soak till morning or old age.

The bench below my knees lifts, and the floor
Drops, and words depart, depart, with faces
Blurred by the smoke. An old man grips my arm,
His shot eyes twitch, quietly dissatisfied.
Ha has lost his watch, an American gold
From Boston gas-works. He treats the company
To the secretive surge, the sea of his sadness.
I slip outside, fall among stones and nettles,
Crackling dry twigs on an elder tree,
While an accordion drones above the hill.

Later, I reach a room, where the moon stares
Through a cobwebbed window. The tide has ebbed,
Boats are careened in the harbour. Here is a bed.

© 1963, Richard Murphy

Image result for paul kelly irish artist images

 

Recommended Websites :

The Blackpool Sentinel  (https://theblackpoolsentinel.wordpress.com)

Produced by Colm O’Callaghan (@aslinndubh) and Martin O’Connor (@martinoconnor3)

Concerned mostly with alternative music from the 1980s and 1990s, much of it Irish and much of it long lost. Somewhat addictive!

Reviews, Rants And Rambles (https://vinhanley.com) (@Cnocandoire)

The site of Vincent Hanley whose love and understanding of Irish Literature makes his Blog  a delight to read.

Visiting these sites will be well worth your while and do mention The Immortal Jukebox when you do.

N.B.  Look out for the final Post in the series on the 17th – St Patrick’s Day!

 

Luke Kelly : Raglan Road

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 1

For the week that’s in it The Immortal Jukebox series A Parade of Posts for St Patrick celebrates Ireland’s glorious heritage in Song, Poetry and Painting.

It seems to me that the, ‘Secret Sign’ has been revealed to generations of Irishmen and Irishwomen and that in response they have blessed us with inspiring voices and visions that will always echo through stone and time.

Today:

A Song from Luke Kelly

A Poem by Flann O’ Brien performed by Eamon Morrissey

A Painting by Jack B Yeats

Staff in hand let’s set off with Luke Kelly’s magisterial performance of Poet Patrick Kavanagh’s great, ‘Raglan Road’.

 

 

Luke Kelly was born to Sing.

Born to Sing.

In his singing there is passion pledged.

In his singing there is grief and rue.

In his singing there is enchantment.

In his singing there is Love and the whisper of old ghosts.

In his singing there is the creature made of clay and the angel.

In his singing there is life in abundance.

Life in abundance.

Patrick Kavanagh : Raglan Road

On Raglan Road on an Autumn Day,
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I may one day rue.
I saw the danger, yet I walked
Along the enchanted way
And I said let grief be a falling leaf
At the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November,
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worst of passions pledged.
The Queen of Hearts still baking tarts
And I not making hay,
Well I loved too much; by such and such
Is happiness thrown away.

I gave her the gifts of the mind.
I gave her the secret sign
That’s known to all the artists who have
Known true Gods of Sound and Time.
With word and tint I did not stint.
I gave her reams of poems to say
With her own dark hair and her own name there
Like the clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet,
I see her walking now away from me,
So hurriedly. My reason must allow,
For I have wooed, not as I should
A creature made of clay.
When the angel woos the clay, he’ll lose
His wings at the dawn of the day.

 

After such an intense experience I think it’s time to perch on a high stool and imbibe the wit and wisdom of Flann O’ Brien a writer of genius as attested by, ‘At Swim Two Birds’ and by the blazing brilliance of his, ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ column for The Irish Times under the name of Myles na gCopaleen.

Image result for flann o brien images

 

Eamon Morrissey gives a virtuoso performance of, ‘A Pint of Plain’ from his show celebrating the work of Flann O’Brien, ‘The Brother’.

I must confess I’ve been known to perform this, though with more enthusiasm than skill, myself on licensed premises when the humour is on me!

 

 

Flann O’ Brien : The Workmen’s Friend (A Pint Of Plain)

When things go wrong and will not come right
Though you do the best you can
When life looks black as the hour of night
A pint of plain is your only man

When money’s tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran
When all you have is a heap of debt
A pint of plain is your only man

When health is bad and your heart feels strange
And your face is pale and wan
When doctors say you need a change
A pint of plain is your only man

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan
When hunger grows as your meals are rare
A pint of plain is your only man

In time of trouble and lousey strife
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life
A pint of plain is your only man

Jack B Yeats paintings are deeply imagined encounters with the life force present in ourselves and the world around us.

 

Image result for jack b yeats images

When I stand before them I am always shocked by the level of silence and attention they demand of me and by the magnitude of the reward such silence and attention produces.

Replete with Irish generosity and fortified by several Pints of Plain as a parting gift today I leave you with a glorious live version of Raglan Road.

 

Recommended Websites:

746 Book  (https://746books.com)

is an outstanding Blog which has an annual Reading Ireland series.

Cathy (@cathy746books) is in addition Arts programmer for the Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Raging Fluff   (https://ragingfluff.wordpress.com)

is another excellent Blog featuring original writing from Niall McArdle (@ragingfluff) .

Niall has hosted the highly entertaining ‘Begorrathon’ for several years and has generously featured Posts from The Immortal Jukebox.

Do visit these sites and tell them The Immortal Jukebox sent you over!

N.B.   Look out for Post 2 in the series in two days on March 13th.

Christmas Art Gallery 2

More Paintings for contemplation and inspiration!

El Greco – ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’

‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ is a work of blazing, visionary brilliance by El Greco who had the artistic bravery characteristic of genius in all ages.

el-greco-nativity

El Greco depicted the human body and used colour and perspective in a manner that was wholly individual.

The awe inspiring intensity of his vision breaks down any conventional, ‘tutored’ response.

To my mind his art is a true veil shredding glimpse into a co-existing reality : present then and present now.

This painting, more than any other I know, captures the enormity of the event which took place some two thousand years ago.

It is a peerless hymn of exultation and adoration.

Peter Paul Rubens – ‘The Adoration of the Magi’

A painting, more accurately the the modello (a sketch shown to a patron for approval of the composition) for the altarpiece painted by Rubens for the convent of the Dames Blanches, Louvain now in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.

rubens-adoration

There is a wonderful humanity in this work.

Though the event depicted was of universal importance it was witnessed, experienced, by, ‘ordinary’ men and women (and let us not forget animals as the peering camels here humorously demonstrate) on a day when the sun rose and set like any other.

Miracles take place (far more often than, ‘common sense’ will allow) against the background of every day events.

Rubens manages to make each of the individual characters in the scene vividly present.

I feel as if I could walk directly into this company and be made welcome.

Andrei Rublev – Nativity

rublev-nativity

Andrei Rublev’s Icons and Frescos are supreme works of devotional art.

They are works to be still before.

If you surrender to these works they will work in your soul.

Rublev, following the Orthodox tradition, sees the events of The Nativity not as historical episodes but as living events the faithful community participated in as they celebrated the liturgy.

The calm and peace of the image contains immense and complex feeling.

The birth of The Saviour is shown as a cosmic event which is yet an acceptance of human mortality and frailness.

Duccio Di Buoninsegna – Nativity

From the great Master from Sienna, Duccio Di Buoninsegna.

Since I first discovered the work of Duccio as a teenager I have been in thrall to the luminous beauty of his works.

His paintings seem to me to have been deeply pondered in his heart which gives them qualities of stillness and humility which I find overwhelmingly moving.

In particular, something about, ‘Duccio Blue’ sets my heart aflame.

 

duccio-the-nativity-with-the-prophets-isaiah-and-ezekiel-1308-1311-dw7c5b