Friday, April 29, 2022

Arranmore poem


For the Day After National Poetry Day, a poem from D.J. O'Sullivan, lightkeeper, field-naturalist, ornithologist, scientist, contributor of articles to national newspapers and poet. It is simply called Arranmore and is taken from his 1947 anthology entitled Lightkeeper's Lyrics. It is not about a lighthouse at all, more of a political discourse from a nature expert. Having just returned from a week on Arranmore, I can confirm that the nature still abounds on the island, though I wouldn't know a cushat from a Jew's-harp beetle.

Bright sunbeams gleam 'twixt flouncing waves,
The Jew's-harp beetle sparkles blue:
Where gnarléd gorse shows armour'd leaves
A spider's web is dinked with dew.

The mist-bow o'er the stream glints red,
A brassy, brazen, brilliant tone
That flickers ochreous to lead,
Becomes nimbused, then nimbly gone.

Roan heifer noses through the hedge
Sweet honeysuckle bordering near;
The sunning ass, upon the hedge,
Half wakes to twitch flies from her ear.

Brown bees are pulsing flower to flower,
To gilly comes the Green-veined White,
This female's had her nuptial hour,
As tatter'd wings denote in flight.

Ringed-plover "tu-li-tu" around,
Showing trailing wings and drunken legs,
Pretending hurt - fall to the ground,
A ruse to hide their "scrape" of eggs.

The wood-rush rustles faery tunes,
The cushat coos in elder tree.
And all along the ribb'd sand-dunes
Blue harebells dance in ecstasy.

D.J. (Danny)'s father, Eugene, was lost at the Bull Rock lighthouse, county Cork on midsummer's day 1917. One of his sons, also called Eugene, brought the Irish lightkeeping occupation to an end in 1997, when he handed over the keys of the Baily to Irish Lights.

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