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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

A final song for Samhain

Halloween is finally here! While children dress in costume and parents don their houses with spooky decorations, we are paying tribute to John Montague and his eerie poem about the Celtic festival that celebrates the arrival of the “darker half” of the year. The auditory and sensory imagery Montague engages sends shivers down our spine, as we welcome the sinister spirits that accompany the darkness. Don’t get too scared. . .

v. Samhain

(from “Ó Riada’s Farewell”)

Sing a song
for the mistress
of the bones

the player
on the black keys
the darker harmonies

light jig
of shoe buckles
on a coffin lid


pale glint
of the wrecker’s lantern
on a jagged cliff

across the ceaseless
glitter of the spume:
a seagull’s creak

the damp haired
seaweed stained sorceress
marshlight of defeat


chill of winter
a slowly failing fire
faltering desire

Darkness of Darkness
we meet on our way
in loneliness

Blind Carolan
Blind Raferty
Blind Tadgh

John Montague, from A Slow Dance (1975)

Read more #SamhainSongs on our Twitter page to join us in the celebration.
“Sing a song for the mistress of the bones…” (Montague)

Categories: John Montague, Poem of the WeekTags: , ,


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