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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: “Winter Beachhead” by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

"Beach Scene" by James Hamilton (1865)

“Beach Scene” by James Hamilton (1865)

As we return to our usual routines after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be tough to endure the cold, long months of winter before spring. In Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s meditative “Winter Beachhead,” translated by Medbh McGuckian, she acknowledges the beauty of a wintry beach scene and encourages patience “for the fullness to come.”

Winter Beachhead

This is the starkest hour of the shore
when it’s purged and cleansed as a Sabbath door.
There’s a brim of lather when the tide’s in
as the waves go on with their day’s washing.

No valved or spiralled or saucered whelk,
no mussel or scallop quiets my walk;
but I make my count, as they cease from sight,
of a head of barnacle geese, a cell of eight.

They sail in their glory; we have to bide our time
and hold out for the fullness to come—
for spring sands merry with foxes’ tails,
or kelp tresses, for clam and cowrie shells.

–from the Irish “Tráigh Gheimhridh” by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated by Medbh McGuckian, in The Water Horse (2000)

Categories: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Poem of the WeekTags: , , , ,

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