On Hearing Michael Hartnett Read His Poetry in Irish
First, the irretrievable arrow of the military road
Drawing a line across all that has gone before
Its language a handful of brutal monosyllables.
By the side of the road the buildings eased up;
The sturdy syntax of castle and barracks,
The rococo flourish of a stately home:
The formal perfection and grace
Of the temples of neoclassical government
The avenues describing an elegant period. Then,
The red-brick constructions of a common coin
To be minted in local stone, and beyond them
The fluent sprawl of the demotic suburbs
Tanged with the ice of its bitter nights
Where I dreamt in the shambles of imperial iambs,
Like rows of shattered Georgian houses.
I hear our history on my tongue,
The music of what has happened!
The shanties that huddled around the manor
The kips that cursed under Christchurch Cathedral
Rising like a madrigal into the Dublin sky
– But tonight, for the first time,
I heard the sound
Of the snow falling through moonlight
Onto the empty fields.