Some Irish Poetry

A few Irish poets’ work for St. Patrick’s Day.


Don’t Eat Corn Beef & Cabbage

I attended a talk on Irish traditions and culture at my library not too long ago. One thing I learned, and rejoiced in learning since I don’t like the taste, was that you shouldn’t eat corn beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day if you want to honor or experience Irish culture.

When the Irish immigrated to the US during the Potato Famine, they were poor. The only food they could afford was corn beef. So eat lamb or pork, which Irish typically ate in Irish.

I learned from this website that corned beef was eaten by kings as a way to drive the “demon of gluttony” out of his belly. As someone who doesn’t like the taste of corn beef and cabbage, I understand how that ancient practice could work.

Poems of the Week

Never give all the Heart

By William Butler Yeats
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

love is more thicker than forget
e.e. cummings

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

Poem of the Week


By Philip Larkin

In trains we need not choose our company
For all the logic of departure is
That recognition is suspended; we
Are islanded in unawareness, as
Our minds reach out to where we want to be.

But carried thus impersonally on,
We hardly see that person opposite
Who, if we only knew it, might be one
Who, far more than the other waiting at
Some distant place, knows our true destination.

Favorite Irish Movies

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, let me share my favorite movies from the Emerald Isle:

  • Once, a touching, understated love story between a broken-hearted Hoover repairman cum musician and an intelligent, inquisitive Czech woman. Quirky with great music.
  • The Secret of Kells has beautiful animation and tells the story of a boy in medieval Ireland who must defy his uncle to protect and finish the monks’ Book of Kells. A beautiful way to get some history. My nephew 5 year old loved it as much as I did.
  • In America. Okay, it’s set in New York, but it’s about an Irish family that immigrates to the US in the 1980s. You’ll hear some wonderful Irish accents and see some strong acting from Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine. The little girls are adorable.
  • Waking Ned Divine is a fun romp in small town Ireland, a comedy about townspeople who band together to cash in on the lottery.
  • From Frank McCourt’s book, Angela’s Ashes reminds me of Dickens and why so many Irish had to leave.

I’d like to see Michael Collins for a bit of (dramatized) history and The Commitments.