A poem on the Olympic gold medal in rowing, by William Wall, Cork Poet Laureate 

In the latest of his monthly poems, William Wall is inspired by the feats of rowers Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan at the Olympics
A poem on the Olympic gold medal in rowing, by William Wall, Cork Poet Laureate 

William Wall, writer, winner of the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature. Picture: Denis Minihane.

William Wall is from Cork, and is currently serving as his home county's first Poet Laureate.

An initiative of the Munster Literature Centre that is funded by Cork City Council, Wall writes a poem every month, providing a personal response to issues in the city and county.

The Irish Examiner publishes these poems in the first week of every month, and the works will also be collected into a chapbook to be launched at next year’s Cork World Book Festival.

Strike the grey sea and fly

On the Olympic gold medal in rowing

August 2021 

 ‘See how much my ships excel all others, and what magnificent oarsmen my sailors are.’ 

                                                                                                              - Homer, The Odyssey

oars are wings over water
bound to their thole pins
by twisted strips of leather
strike the grey sea and fly


pray with your oars at rest
consult the oracle for hope
make hecatombs for the best
strike the grey sea and fly

 
we have been away so long
no one will know us
but our names will be songs
strike the grey sea and fly

 
look neither left nor right
the sweet blade cuts clean
feathered in flight
strike the grey sea and fly

 
think of the river Ilen
 still glass between banks
downstream to Sherkin
strike the grey sea and fly

 
from Germany and Italy
they come but to chase
Donovan and McCarthy
strike the grey sea and fly

 
a great capstone of cloud
on fields of greening gold
the hills throw back the cry
strike the grey sea and fly

More in this section

Scene & Heard
Newsletter

Music, film art, culture, books and more from Munster and beyond.......curated weekly by the Irish Examiner Arts Editor.

Sign up