The Poetry of Things

Verses that add something special to history, memory and experience.

“Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn...”

Duan Chroí Íosa

The famous Irish language religious poem from eighteenth century Ireland.

James Clarence Mangan
He died in Dublin in 1949 after collapsing in a street and joined Ireland’s immortals...

His most famous poem: My Dark Rosaleen

Cwm Rhondda: dau emyn, dwy iaith, un alaw fendigedig...two hymns, two languages, one great tune...

The Paschal Fire of Saint Patrick
The justly famous poem by Denis Florence Mc Carthy, 1817 – 1882.

Coda, a poem by Louis MacNeice (1907 – 1963)
This strange and poignantly beautiful poem may have some unexpected relevance to the dreadful events in Gaza, December 2008 – January 2009.

In Cardiff, the capital of Wales, snow is a wonder that people read about more than experience. That being so it would be difficult to find a better introduction...

The Sunlight on the Garden
Also by Louis MacNeice and written for a warmer and happier time, perhaps...

I Shall not go to Heaven when I Die
The author, Helen Waddell (1899 –1965), was born in Tokyo but spent much of her life in Belfast. She was a distinguished scholar and translator of medieval Latin and an authority on the church in the Middle Ages.

The Kingdom of Kerry
By Jessie Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales.
Jessie is the wife of Samuel H. Boyd, born in Belfast in 1919.

Two Poets: One Destiny
They were born in 1887, the Welsh poet, Hedd Wyn, in January, the Irish poet, Francis Ledwidge, in August.
Both were killed on the 31st of July, 1917, on the same part of the notorious Western Front, and both are buried in the same war cemetery.

The Wife of Llew
A poem for Wales by Ledwidge...

A poem for summer by Ledwidge...

A Robin on a Broken Tree
Just four poignant lines of longing for home written in Flanders in July 1917 by Ledwidge a few days before he was killed.

We brought the summer with us ourselves
One of the very great traditional poems of Ireland.
It used to be sung in Irish on the first of May by a procession of young girls, dressed in white, going from house to house. Magical!

Poems from ‘The Shanachie’
Eight poems scanned from ‘The Shanachie’, An Illustrated Irish Miscellany, Vol. 1, Dublin, Maunsel & Co., Limited, 1906.

Martha Blake
A vivid description by Austin Clarke (1896 –1974) of a woman at Mass in 1950s Dublin.

Short, theological, laconic: the late and great R.S.Thomas (1913–2000) at his enigmatic best.

Gile Mo Chroí – The Light of My Heart

The first verse (in Irish and in English) of a famous religious poem from the 18th century.

Dylan Thomas in His Own Voice
Featuring Dylan’s own recordings of some of his greatest poems and prose pieces — “A fine website!” (Dylan Thomas).

You may need to install Quicktime.

A lovely poem describing a mountainy landscape in the Muskerry area of County Cork, Ireland.

The Wintry Night
The well‑known anonymous poem that begins, “Around the fire, one wintry night...”

The Flower of Cahirmore
A ballad about road bowling from Glandore, County Cork, Ireland

Rich and Rare Were the Gems She Wore
A classic poem from Ireland by Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852).
Famous for his ‘Irish Melodies’, Thomas Moore, the son of an Irish‑speaking father, was the first widely‑known Irish writer to compose poems and songs in English on a large scale.

This poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844 – 1881) is better known by its famous opening line: “We are the music‑makers... ”.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley
By the Irish poet, Katherine Tynan (1861 – 1931).

Three Poems
1) Prophecy of Celtic Ancients Revisited; 2) Both not Yesterdays; 3) October to March in Sahel.
By Patrick James of Dún Laoghaire, Ireland.

Love Song in Clonakilty
By David Hughes who was born in Bargoed but now lives and works in Swansea.

Ferry to an Irish Funeral
By Lynne Walsh who is married to a Wexfordman and lives near Bridgend, Glamorgan.

Another two poems
by Lynne Walsh.

Castles of Bones
By Patrick Egan, from Westmeath, this is a brief but remarkable summary of Irish history.

Recalling the Churches in Normandy
Another fine poem by Patrick Egan.

The Famine Year (The Stricken Land)
The author, Lady Wilde (1824 – 1896), was the mother of Oscar Wilde.

A Lay of the Famine
This anonymous and undated ballad was first published in London in 1900.

Documentary: On Reading Thomas Webster Rammell’s Report of 1850
A poem on the Cardiff Irish of the mid 19th century by Bob Walton, a musician and writer of Irish and Welsh descent, who lives in Bristol.

An Irish Landowner Foresees his Death
By Steve Hennessy, an Irish writer living in Bristol

Phytophthera Infestans
Another poem by Steve Hennessy. It deals with the disease that destroyed the potatoes of Ireland.

Farewell to the White Potatoes
By Peatsaí Ó Callanáin, a farmer who lived near Athenry, County Galway, during the Great Famine.

Good Taste
This poem by Glenda Renyi deals with food in a time of famine. Glenda, who is of Irish descent, lives in Bristol with her Hungarian husband.

Potatoes by Christine Broe of Dublin.
Another look at potatoes and famine.

The Famine Cross
By Sister Breda Gainey S.S.J.A., from County Kildare and now at St. Joseph’s Convent, Merthyr Tydfil.

Three Irish Generations: The Third Generation:The Storyteller Abroad
This is an English version of a remarkable autobiographical account in verse of a journey into exile from County Waterford to the Swansea Valley. It was written in Irish by Pádraig Ó Miléadha (1877 – 1947).

Newtown: the Parish of Saint Paul’s
By the late Tommy Walsh. Recorded in 1988 and transcribed, with his kind permission, by Mary Sullivan, Chair, The Newtown Association, Cardiff.

Remembrance is our Entrance
A poem for Ireland and the Irish by Phillip Henry, who was born in Chepstow, grew up in Bristol, and now lives in Cardiff Bay.

The Blight on Mary’s Children
By Father Ieuan Wyn Jones, Grangetown, Cardiff. A native Welsh speaker and a former Nonconformist minister, Father Ieuan is a convert to Catholicism.

The Spirit of Grangetown
By ‘Millie’, Grangetown, Cardiff.

St. Patrick in Frederick Street
Irish revellers in Cardiff on St. Patrick's Day meet Archbishop Murphy!
Written by Ben ’Blow’ Whelan (1893 – 1976), an exile from Mullinavat who died in Bargoed...

The Llandow Disaster of 1950
Another poem by Ben ’Blow’ Whelan.

’Ulster’ and ’Bloody Sunday’
By David Adsett, 2 February, 1998, after seeing a TV documentary on ‘Bloody Sunday’.

A poetic tribute to his late father by the Welsh writer Emyr Humphreys.

Those Winter Sundays
A pungent poem in memory of his father by Afro‑American Robert Hayden.

Nhad Wrth ei Waith
‘My father at his work’: a poetic tribute in Welsh to an Irish tradesman in Wales.

‘Fragments’: a poetic summary in Irish of the life of an Irishman.

Daouarn va Zad
Die Hände meines Vaters / The Hands of my Father.
A poem in Breton with translations into English, Irish, Welsh, French and German.

Thou Hast Made Me, and Shall Thy Work Decay?
John Donne (1572 – 1631).

From ‘The Temple’, 1633, by George Herbert (1593 – 1633).

The Poplar Field
This poem by William Cowper (1731 – 1800) is a comment on the effect on birds of tree felling over 200 years ago.

The Winter Rainbow
John Clare, 1793 – 1864.

Binsey Poplars
Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889) takes up Cowper’s theme as he too reflects on the loss of trees.

The Parrot
Do birds have memories and feelings? The Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777 – 1844) believed that they do as this poem eloquently testifies.

The Emperor’s Bird’s Nest
A remarkable tale of the Emperor Charles V and a swallow's nest as told in verse by H.W.Longfellow...

The Challenge
...I have a vague remembrance..Of a story, that is told...In some ancient Spanish legend...Or chronicle of old...
A retelling by H. W. Longfellow of an episode from the Spanish epic of El Cid.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The full text of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s legendary tribute to the albatross and to all marine life.

The Impercipient
Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) at a Christmas service in a cathedral is captivated by the experience but is saddened by his own inability to believe.

A Psalm to Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997)
An English translation of a poetic tribute to Mother Teresa of Calcutta written in Welsh by Robin Gwyndaf.

All Aboard the Innisfallen!
A poem by John O’Sullivan to mark the silver jubilee of the ordination to the priesthood of Father Edward O’Connell, Parish Priest, St. Teilo’s RC Church, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

To a Locomotive In Winter
The crashing greatness of a poem by the American writer, Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892.
Perhaps Shakespeare, if he had lived long enough, could have surpassed this majestic and masterful tribute to the steam locomotive, a means of transport considered by many to have been the finest machine ever...

A Winter Eden
Another American, Robert Frost (1874 – 1963), portrays the bittersweet ending of the year.

A sunlit poem by the Australian, W.J.Turner.

I have never quite forgotten this summoning up of some unforgettable dream pictures of the great mountains of the Andes since I was first introduced to it at school in Ireland more than fifty years ago.
W.J.Turner’s stunning poem became part of the enduring furniture of my mind at about the same time as I was learning to treasure an equally splendid flight of fancy, in the Irish language, to a remote seaport in Chile.

This was Monsignor Pádraig de Brún’s wonderful Valparaiso, an enduring and poignant expression of regret for the road that must remain for ever not taken...
The link is to a Scottish site that gives the original Irish together with a translation into English. .

What Passes and Endures
A translation by Alfred Percival Graves of Ceiriog’s classic poem in Welsh, Aros Mae’r Mynyddoedd Mawr.

‘Stuban, Gabh Ceairéil’ / ‘Manx Cat, Take Care’
A poem in Manx by Brian Stowell with his own translation into English.

Poems in Welsh on this site
Links to poems and other texts in Welsh. Although the page is in Welsh only, many of the items, when opened, will be found to be linked to translations into English.

Poems in Irish on this site.
Links to poems and other texts in Irish. Although the page is in that language only, many of the items, when opened, will be found to be linked to translations into English.

Poems in Spanish on this site.
Links to three poems in Spanish with translations into English.

Poems in French on this site.
Links to four poems in French with translations into English.

Poems in German on this site.
Links to two poems in German with translations into English.

A Box of Christmas Readings.
Including poems and carols in English and in most of the languages mentioned above with translations into English.

The personal website of Peter Finch,
Director of the Welsh Academy.
There are extensive links to sites in both English and Welsh dealing with poets, poems and poetry as well as other aspects of cultural life in Wales.


A poem from the USA attributed to a child dying of cancer but more likely to have been written by a remarkably sensitive and wise adult...

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