11 of the most beautiful lines of Irish poetry you’ll ever read

IRELAND is a nation synonymous with the written word.

From WB Yeats to Seamus Heaney, these shores have been home to some of the greatest poets who have ever graced the planet.

So many beautiful poems and countless evocative verses – here are just 11 of our favorites …

11. Katherine Tynan “A Complaint”

Percy, boy with a heart of gold,
At the height of his joy
Left his new wife and chose
The steep path that Honor takes.

Took for himself the immortal song
Of love that knows no evil:
Could I love you, my dear, so true
Wasn’t Honor more than you?

10. WB Yeats “When you’re old”

When you’re old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, pick up this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the sweet gaze
Your eyes once had, and their deep shadows;

9. Patrick Kavanagh “Lines written on a seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin”

O commemorate me where there is water,
The canal water, preferably, so still
Greenery in the heart of summer. Brother
So beautifully commemorate me

8. Eavan Boland “The Lost Land: Poems”

This is what language is:
usual grief. A turn to speak
for everyday and ordinary abrasion
losses such as:
that hurts
just enough to be a scar
And heals just enough to be a nation.

7. Padraic Colum “An old woman of the roads”

O, to have a little house!
Own the hearth and the stool and everything!
The lawns piled up on the fire,
The pile of grass against the wall!

6. Eileen Carney Hulme “Belonging”

small spaces of silence
between two borrowed breaths
arms tighten
at the whisper of a name

all the words from the heart
unanswered questions
are at the moment
blue waves

5. Seamus Heaney “The Children of the Railroad”

We were little and thought we didn’t know anything
Good to know. We thought the words ran through the threads
In pockets shining with raindrops,
Each one sown full of light
From the sky, the light of the lines, and ourselves
So on the infinitesimal scale
We could sink through the eye of a needle.

4. Patrick Pearse “The traveler”

The beauty of the world made me sad,
This beauty that will pass away;
Sometimes my heart trembled with great joy
To see a squirrel leap into a tree,
Or a red ladybug on a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at night,

3. Austin Clarke “The Lost Heifer”

Turn the ribbon of dark grasses
Where the lark lay down,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist turning to rain?

2. Patrick Kavanagh “On the Raglan Road”

On Raglan Road one fall day I first met her and knew
That her black hair would weave a trap that I might one day deplore;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted path,
And I said, let sorrow be a dead leaf at dawn.

1. WB Yeats “Innisfree Lake Island”

I’ll get up and go now, forever night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with faint sounds near the shore;
While I stand on the pavement, or on the gray sidewalks,
I hear it deep in my heart.

** Posted on: Apr 25, 2020


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