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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."

Poem of the Week: “Poem for Lara, 10” by Michael Hartnett

There is something powerful in offering a blessing to another person; the Irish are especially aware of that. In this piece, Michael Hartnett uses the beauty of the natural world to bless the beautifully innocent spirit of a young girl. The imagery and the sentiment feel touchingly apt as the seasons begin to change.

Poem for Lara, 10

An ashtree on fire
the hair of your head
coaxing larks
with your sweet voice
in the green grass,
a crowd of daisies
playing with you,
a crowd of rabbits
dancing with you,
the blackbird
with its gold bill
is a jewel for you,
the goldfinch
with its sweetness
is your music.
You are perfume,
you are honey,
a wild strawberry:
even the bees think you
a flower in the field.
Little queen of the land of books,
may you always be thus,
may you ever be free
+++from sorrow-chains.

Here’s my blessing for you, girl,
and it is no petty grace —
may you have the beauty of your mother’s soul
+++and the beauty of her face.

Michael Hartnett, from New & Selected Poems (1994)


Categories: Irish Poetry, Michael Hartnett, Poem of the Week, Poetry

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  1. What a beautiful poem and a lasting legacy to his child.

  2. safia says:

    I agree too – a beautiful thing for his daughter Lara to cherish in his absence. I do find the last lines referring to her mother particularly moving too, and somewhat sad – like Hartnett wishes little of him rubs off on his daughter.

  3. Wow! It touched my heart. This poem is really very well written. It beautifully shows the relationship between mother and daughter.

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