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Tag: love

Take down the love letters

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

The poet and playwright Derek Walcott was born on this day in 1930 in Saint Lucia, an island country in the eastern Caribbean. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992 “for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”. How does Walcott’s verse rate? The poetry critic William Logan summed it up with faint praise: “No living poet has written verse more delicately rendered or distinguished than Walcott, though few individual poems seem destined to be remembered.” This one is, we feel.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott (1930 – 2017)

Letters home


Things that kept the darkness at bay

Tuesday, 4 September, 2018

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

The small acts of kindness and love here involved baking. Flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, butter and raisins were converted into energy in acts of “improvised tradition”. A pinch of this and a fistful of that altered the balance each time my mother made the scones. Each batch was different. Creativity was at work.

Scones of love


Small acts of kindness and love

Friday, 8 September, 2017 0 Comments

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Small acts of kindness and love


Ausonius and Attusia and Valentinian

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017 0 Comments

Decimus Magnus Ausonius was the most famous poet of his time and Emperor Valentinian I summoned him to Rome to teach his son Gratian. He spent the years between 365 and 388 there and then returned to his native Bordeaux. In this epigram for his wife, Attusia, he pictures them still youthful in their old age. It is a haunting vision of a couple fully in love ageing together… and it’s entirely imaginary because Attusia died when she was 28. Forty years later, Ausonius wrote Ad Uxorem (To His Wife).

To His Wife

Love, let us live as we have lived, nor lose
The little names that were the first night’s grace,
And never come the day that sees us old,
I still your lad, and you my little lass.
Let me be older than old Nestor’s years,
And you the Sibyl, if we heed it not.
What should we know, we two, of ripe old age?
We’ll have its richness, and the years forgot.

Translation from the Latin by Helen Waddell (1889 – 1965)

Ad Uxorem

Uxor, vivamus quod viximus et teneamus
nomina quae primo sumpsimus in thalamo;
nec ferat ulla dies, ut commutemur in aevo,
quin tibi sim iuvenis tuque puella mihi.
Nestore sim quamvis provectior aemulaque annis
vincas Cumanam tu quoque Deiphoben,
nos ignoremus quid sit matura senectus,
scire aevi meritum, non numerare decet.

Ausonius (310 – 395)


Small acts of kindness and love

Tuesday, 23 August, 2016 0 Comments

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Scones of love


The heart of the Valentine matter

Sunday, 14 February, 2016 0 Comments

According to the ancients, Saint Valentine of Rome was martyred on 14 February in the third-century and buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia. History and hagiography disagree on the exactness of all this, but Saint Valentine’s Day is widely recognized as an occasion for romance and E. E. Cummings provides suitable words for the occasion.

Love was Cummings’ main subject of interest and he approached it, and poetry, with a charming sense of linguistic invention that enabled him to create verse that was lyrical, visual and unique: “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” is classic Cummings.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

                  i fear

no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings (1894 – 1962)

The heart of love


The thirteenth Station: Love

Sunday, 6 December, 2015 0 Comments

The union that was celebrated by the wedding guests on 16 June 1952 at Riversdale House in the Glen of Aherlow witnessed many wonders in the 63 years of its fortunate existence. None was more wondrous than that expressed in the two words “rural electrification.” It would prove to be the tipping point for the enterprise that became the happy couple’s mission in life.

Daddy and Mammy

When many of today’s generation hear about rural electrification, they think either of the developing world or of ancient agrarian history. For my parents, however, their marriage year coincided with the electrification of rural Ireland. It was a happy coincidence because electrification was the difference between power and powerlessness, between past and future, between regression and progress. Tellingly, my mother and father rarely used the word “electricity”. They referred to it as “the light”. If, during a storm, a transformer was affected and power was cut off, the first thing that was noticed was the outage of the electric light as represented by the Sacred Heart lamp in the kitchen. “The light’s gone,” was the phrase that was used to declare the loss of electricity. The use of light as a synonym for electricity was significant in that the alternative state was darkness, with all its metaphorical connotations.

During the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond the first decade of the 21st century, mother and father devoted themselves to raising their family, expanding their business and establishing an envied presence as an example of wisdom, respect and integrity in their community. Such are the rewards of the thing called love, which is, in the long run, unique to each couple, their personalities, their dreams and their principles.

An anecdote sums up what love meant to my mother. One evening last year, her great companion Bridget Fitzgerald arrived with the latest recording by the rural heartthrob, Nathan Carter. We drank tea, listened to songs and then, Bridget holding up the CD cover featuring the handsome Nathan, said, “Kit, wouldn’t you like to wake up in the morning and seen him in the bed beside you?”

My mother glanced at the toothful Nathan and then looked up at the wedding photo from June 1952 and said, “Bridge, if I could, I’d have the same fella again.” Such was love.

Tomorrow, here, our final station in this series of meditations on 14 photographs is Legacy.


Those articulate scones

Wednesday, 28 October, 2015 0 Comments

The scones

No photograph nor no text can convey the warmth of what came out of that oven. Yes, the baking was all about converting ingredients — flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, butter, raisins — into food, but there was something else going on. Maybe “improvised tradition” is near the mark as each batch was different. No slavish adherence to a recipe handed down the ages, here. Creativity was at play. A pinch of this and a fistful of that altered the balance each time the scones were made.

When they were placed on the old wire trays, almost too hot to handle, the first tasting took place. It was all very far from what takes place when wine connoisseurs get together, but there were similarities. The aroma, with its remembrances of things past; the initial impact of legacy on the tongue; the lingering aftertaste of love crafted into nourishment.

“How does it taste?” The question deserved far more than the prosaic “fine” and “good” that were usually offered, but poetry was beyond us. The scones were more articulate.


Grief is just love with no home

Sunday, 11 October, 2015 0 Comments

Mammy and Daddy

“Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
across sand. Somewhere people are waiting.
They have drunk nothing for days.”

Stephen Dobyns


A month of mourning and cake

Tuesday, 6 October, 2015 1 Comment

How does one measure the extent, the expanse of human loss? And when it involves the loss of a beloved mother, how does one explain the feeling of anguish left by the absence of so constant and cherished a presence? Words fail. Although a month has elapsed since her death, the pain remains acute.

One source of comfort in these sad days is the support offered by her friends and neighbours. Their loyalty and support is heroic and the beautiful memorial cake baked by the saintly Milly Hanley expresses love better than any phrase or sentence. The act of taking the time to create something nourishing in the style favoured by my mother is the ultimate tribute to her legacy.

Milly's memorial cake


Paris says no to the love locks

Monday, 1 June, 2015 0 Comments

The municipal authorities in Paris have made it known that from today the Pont des Arts will be closed for one week to allow the removal of all the so-called “love locks” that visitors have attached to the structure over the years. In October, glass panels will be installed permanently on both the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Achevêché to prevent vandalism of this nature from being attempted again. There was nothing attractive about these clumps of metal, clinging barnacle-like to parts of the urban infrastructure around the world. Good riddance to them.

Love locks