Wednesday 24 January 2018

Poetry - Anthon Cronin: Faith

George Russell
George Russell

Anthony Cronin

George Russell, who wrote as AE, was one of the great figures of the early days of this State; not perhaps as a poet because his poetry is often vague and visionary which is a bad combination - though this one, Faith, is both commonsensical and consolatory - but in other ways as a creative and informative spirit.

Born in Lurgan, when his people moved to Dublin he was still at school. After working in a draper's shop he attended the Metropolitan School of Art in Harcourt Street where he met WB Yeats.

He had some literary success but his real work was done in journalism. He founded and edited no fewer than three periodicals, among them The Irish Homestead and The Irish Statesman, which provided an outlet and financial support for many important figures, including the young Patrick Kavanagh.

And he was a key motivator and organiser in Sir Horace Plunkett's Agricultural Co-Operative Society, the famous Co-Op, which had a huge economic and social influence on Irish rural life.


AE (George Russell)

Here where the loves of others close

The vision of my heart begins.

The wisdom that within us grows

Is absolution for our sins.

We took forbidden fruit and ate

Far in the garden of His mind.

The ancient prophecies of hate

We proved untrue, for He was kind.

He does not love the bended knees,

The soul made wormlike in His sight,

Within whose heaven are hierarchies

And solar kings and lords of light.

Who come before Him with the pride

The Children of the King should bear,

They will not be by Him denied,

His light will make their darkness fair.

To be afar from Him is death

Yet all things find their fount in Him:

And nearing to the sunrise breath

Shine jewelled like the seraphim.

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