Shancoduff – Patrick Kavanagh Poem

Here is some verse from the irascible Irish poet from County Monaghan. Kavanagh was linked to the IRA back in the early days after partition. Strange that both he and Brendan Behan should have hated one another so much as Behan was also a member of the IRA. We Irish love nothing better than to knock seven colours of shite out of one another; no wonder the English managed to invade and set up a colony.

Shancoduff

My black hills have never seen the sun rising,
Eternally they look north towards Armagh.
Lot’s wife would not be salt if she had been
Incurious as my black hills that are happy
When dawn whitens Glassdrummond chapel.

My hills hoard the bright shillings of March
While the sun searches in every pocket.
They are my Alps and I have climbed the Matterhorn
With a sheaf of hay for three perishing calves
In the field under the Big Forth of Rocksavage.

The sleety winds fondle the rushy beards of Shancoduff
While the cattle-drovers sheltering in the Featherna Bush
Look up and say: “Who owns them hungry hills
That the water-hen and snipe must have forsaken?
A poet? Then by heavens he must be poor.”
I hear and is my heart not badly shaken?

Patrick Kavanagh

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