Saturday 16 December 2017

Poetry - Ulick O'Connor: An escape to the mountains

Seumas O'Sullivan
Seumas O'Sullivan

Ulick O'Connor

If you go out of the city these days towards the Dublin Mountains, you seem to get there with the speed of a lamb's wagging tail, and are awaiting your coming; little orchestras of lambs all baa-ing away, rejoicing in their entrance to the planet. This forms the hanging image of the green and purple hills which surround our metropolis.

Poet Seumas O'Sullivan used to have a special hill there that he was always on the look out for on these mountains. "With its stooping pine trees that went clambering up the sides like a defeated army, and yes the little bright space of sky, a wonder still unexplained which seems to hang forever above the valley". He was a frightfully decent chap who had the distinction as a poet of sometimes being compared to Yeats, though he didn't produce enough to form a rival to WB.

He founded and edited The Dublin Magazine, which was at the top of literary journals in English of the time. I remember my excitement when I found in the letterbox a postcard commending an article I had sent him on Lafcadio Hearn, and which he accepted for the magazine. It was my first to be published in an important literary journal.

Here is the poem with which the poet brings us up, not only into the mountains, but into the high vaults of his fine imagination


Slowly they pass

In the grey of the evening

Over the wet road,

A flock of sheep. Slowly they wend In the grey of the gloaming,

Over the wet roadThat winds through the town Slowly they pass, And gleaming whitely Vanish away In the grey of the evening. Ah, what memories Loom for a moment, Gleam for a moment, And vanish away, Of the white days When we two together Went in the evening, Where the sheep lay: We two together, Went with slow feet In the grey of the evening Where the sheep lay.

All white, and go fading Away in the greyness of the plundered years.

Seumas O'Sullivan 1879-1958


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