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Mysteries of the Home: 3 Poems by Paula Meehan

Mysteries of the Home: 3 Poems by Paula Meehan

The following three poems are taken from Paula Meehan’s Mysteries of the Home (Dedalus Press, 2013). The volume gathers together the poems from her two seminal 1990s collections The Man Who was Marked by Winter (1991) and Pillow Talk (1994). Included  are some of her best-known and best-loved poems — ‘The Pattern’, ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’, ‘My Father Perceived as a Vision of St Francis’ and ‘The Wounded Child’ among them. They show an artist at the height of her powers producing work of “remarkable candour and … stunning lyricism” (The Colby Quarterly).


I know this path by magic not by sight. Behind me on the hillside the cottage light is like a star that’s gone astray. The moon is waning fast, each blade of grass a rune inscribed by hoarfrost. This path’s well worn. I lug a bucket by bramble and blossoming blackthorn. I know this path by magic not by sight. Next morning when I come home quite unkempt I cannot tell what happened at the well. You spurn my explanation of a sex spell cast by the spirit who guards the source that boils deep in the belly of the earth, even when I show you what lies strewn in my bucket — a golden waning moon, seven silver stars, our own porch light, your face at the window staring into the dark.  

My Father Perceived as a Vision of St Francis

for Brendan Kennelly   It was the piebald horse in next door’s garden frightened me out of a dream with her dawn whinny. I was back in the boxroom of the house, my brother’s room now, full of ties and sweaters and secrets. Bottles chinked on the doorstep, the first bus pulled up to the stop. The rest of the house slept except for my father. I heard him rake the ash from the grate, plug in the kettle, hum a snatch of a tune. Then he unlocked the back door and stepped out into the garden. Autumn was nearly done, the first frost whitened the slates of the estate. He was older than I had reckoned, his hair completely silver, and for the first time I saw the stoop of his shoulder, saw that his leg was stiff. What’s he at? So early and still stars in the west? They came then: birds of every size, shape, colour; they came from the hedges and shrubs, from eaves and garden sheds, from the industrial estate, outlying fields, from Dubber Cross they came and the ditches of the North Road. The garden was a pandemonium when my father threw up his hands and tossed the crumbs to the air. The sun cleared O’Reilly’s chimney and he was suddenly radiant, a perfect vision of St Francis, made whole, made young again, in a Finglas garden.  


  The first warm day of spring and I step out into the garden from the gloom of a house where hope had died to tally the storm damage, to seek what may have survived. And finding some forgotten lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn holding in their fingers a raindrop each like a peace offering, or a promise, I am suddenly grateful and would offer a prayer if I believed in God. But not believing, I bless the power of seed, its casual, useful persistence, and bless the power of sun, its conspiracy with the underground, and thank my stars the winter’s ended.    

3 Responses

  1. Kevin Power says:

    Good to see the addition of a blog to the Dedalus site.

  2. PB says:

    We hope to add a good deal of new content in the coming weeks and months. In addition we plan to make available some of the audio from our archive that we couldn’t easily share on our previous site.

  3. Jason Symes says:

    Paula Meehan,my favourite poet and thankfully a Northsider.


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