Green oats in June

An Irish day on Cape Cod: It began with a 5K walking race along Nantucket Sound in South Yarmouth (Cape Cod Irish Village Road Race). At the conclusion of the race we enjoyed Irish music at the Irish Village. Unfortunately, any loss to our waistlines from the race was fully counteracted by hamburgers and pints of stout.

The day ended with listening to Celtic Sojourn on WGBH. That program featured a beautiful poem by Patrick Kavanagh, which is appropriate for Mother’s Day, or for remembrance on any loved one.

But I don’t read the poem as being only about remembrance; it’s more about valuing the “earthiest” aspects of all our daily interactions–walking “together through the shops and stalls and markets” or among the “green oats in June.” Kavanagh reads the poem in the video below.

When we lived in Dublin in 2007-08, I remember walking many times along the beautiful Grand Canal, which was near our apartment. You can see a statue of Kavanagh there (“The Crank on the Bank”). It’s also shown in the slide show and below.

The bronze Kavanagh is sitting on a bench as the flesh and blood one once did. It was inspired by his “Lines written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin”:

O commemorate me where there is water
canal water preferably, so stilly
greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
commemorate me thus beautifully.

If you were to visit Dublin, I recommend sitting beside him to contemplate the people walking by, the ever-present swans, and the stilly, greeny water.

Patrick Kavanagh, Royal Canal

Patrick Kavanagh, Royal Canal

In Memory of My Mother

by Patrick Kavanagh

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday–
You meet me and you say:
‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle–‘
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.

And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life–
And I see us meeting at the end of a town

On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.

O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us — eternally.

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