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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: “Viola D’Amore” by Moya Cannon

This week, we continue to look back through The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry as we prepare to publish Volume IV. Today we’re featuring Moya Cannon from Volume II, whose subtle yet distinct voice demands a reader’s attention. Her poems are largely preoccupied with the sphere of landscapes, and how human desire—sometimes expressed through the invocation of Greek myths—is interwoven into the natural world. In her poem “Viola D’Amore,” Cannon derives reason for how the earth can live through us, and with us, without us ever realizing it.

Viola D’Amore

Sometimes love does die,
but sometimes, a stream on porous rock,
it slips down into the inner dark of a hill,
joins with other hidden streams
to travel blind as the white fish that live in it.
It forsakes one underground streambed
for the cave that runs under it.
Unseen, it informs the hill,
and, like the hidden strings of the viola d’amore,
makes the hill reverberate,
so that people who wander there
wonder why the hill sings,
wonder why they find wells.

– Moya Cannon, from The Wake Forest Series of Irish PoetryVol. II (2010)

*A viola d’amore is an instrument from the baroque period, similar to today’s design, but with key differences. The “hidden strings” Cannon refers to in this poem are additional strings set below the main strings that the player draws the bow across. These are called “sympathetic” strings because they vibrate in sympathy with the notes being played, creating a richer, warmer sound.

A Viola d’amore by Johann Paul Schorn, built no later than 1715 and no earlier than 1700. Close up showing 6 playable and six sympathetic strings. Instrument belongs to Anton Steck. Photo by Aviad2001


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