Two elegies, by Cork poet laureate William Wall

In the latest of our monthly poems by William Wall, he pays tribute to Thomas Kinsella and Cara O’Sullivan, two much-mourned greats of the Irish cultural landscape
Two elegies, by Cork poet laureate William Wall

Thomas Kinsella and Cara O’Sullivan.

i Elegy in Winter
In memory of Thomas Kinsella

always in winter
or so it seems
another December
and there before you
is a low dark coast 

at Roches Point
the ghost of an ocean
vanishing into rain
as close as we’ll get
to saying goodbye 

fair Ellinor awaits
at your landfall
there is fever now
 that eats everything
you said it yourself 

out of a brooding sky
the savage birds
the shadow eaters
and the winding light
your finisterre 

ii Cara diva
In memory of Cara O’Sullivan 

Christmas morning
a lifelong atheist
driving his mother-in-law
to hear Cara sing O Holy Night
the voice of the sky itself 

a blackbird
silvering a still dawning
her song inhabits the air

in the dark of winter 
nell’ora del dolore

a polar frost
settling the wind from Greenland
whistling down the ages 

lightly come or lightly go
you tell me
as though we have a choice 

late at night I drive
through the empty city
even the river is listening
Cara diva we miss you
this Christmas more than others
the silence is hard 

January 2022

William Wall, Cork poet laureate. Picture: Denis Minihane
William Wall, Cork poet laureate. Picture: Denis Minihane

William Wall is a poet from Cork, and is serving as the city's first Poet Laureate. An initiative of the Munster Literature Centre that is funded by Cork City Council, Wall's role involves writing a poem every month, giving a personal response to issues in the city and county. The Irish Examiner publishes these poems, and the works will also be collected into a chapbook to be launched at Cork World Book Festival 2022.

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