Poems by Rosemary Blake

Poems written during a visit to Ireland in search of her father’s people by Rosemary Blake

All Souls

 for my father

 You come back
only sometimes now,
faintly when I wake

this morning
in a hotel room
off Lower Merrion Street

an early autumn
sunlight at the window

trees in the park still
green, a brisk silver
in the wind

Yesterday, at the National
Library, in a side room lit
by ordinary light

I found your entry
in the Census of Sunday
April 2nd, 1911

Edward Michael Keegan

third of Rose and William’s
four sons

you are two years old
and live at Morley Terrace
Waterford City

in a country you’d call
years on, I remember

a lilt always
at the corners
of your voice.


Room – St. Stephens Green

to Gerard Manley Hopkins                

           To seem the stranger lies my lot, my life
           Among strangers. *

There’s a simple cross on the wall
above the bed, a night-side table
with a breviary and beads

the Order’s black robe
draped on a single chair
beside the hearth

the floor of polished boards
is worn uneven.

I stand by your desk and look
down to the yard – its damp grass
framed by paling fences

Was it here you wrote

 I am in Ireland now

the black hours
into morning

or like this – on an afternoon
of clouds and showers –
Dublin in September

did you look out
at a similar
mizzling rain?

* from one of the Dublin sonnets


Our Lady of Sorrows 

A pause in the rain
mottled sunlight on the red
flock walls of our hotel rooms
off Merrion Square

In the Park, not far from the house
where he was born on Westland Row,
Oscar Wilde survives all weathers

And in St. Andrew’s parish church
the priest this Monday morning
says mass in the chapel of Our Lady
of Sorrows

its statue of the Virgin in Carrara marble
carved by Willie Pearse
Some say my grandfather – lithographic
printer – printed money for the Sinn Fein

A Michael Collins man in any case

Rosemary Blake

Rosemary is a Geelong-based poet who was educated in Melbourne and Toronto. She lived in Canada for many years, and is the author of  a collection of poems, Wintering (Ekstasis, Victoria, British Columbia, 2007)


One thought on “Poems by Rosemary Blake

  1. Simplicity, economy, grace – qualities less common than one would like. Over ten years since that first collection. Possibly time for another.

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