Original:  September 6, 1964.  It was in 1961 I did the indexing of the early poems I had saved up to then. Here are three connected sonnets from 1964, not on my index.  (There is a fourth, which I’ve left out).  I worked on them from September to  December.  I never finished.  I have a lot of trial copies. I've looked through them and have put together on this page the lines that seem best, and then touched these up again even further. I put it here so it won't be lost all together. :

 

 


That Day                        

   

At Dallas as the rays of sun descend 

So brightly through the scattering of cloud

They lightly glance the hands that we extend

To welcome John FitzGerald Kennedy.

And guided through the gathering of crowd

His beaming smile deflecting enmity

His eyes connect with faces of the land

The frowning shadows of misgivings end

And feeling something grand, the people understand.

 

At Dallas as the rays of sun descend

Their light reflected rises from the street

And people recognizing him as friend

Reflect his warmth as he is driven past

But as he waves his hand again to greet

The shade of death upon his face is cast

His final task of spreading light is done.

For man, so dark that brightness did offend,

With shot from spouting gun, has blotted out the sun.

 

At Dallas as the rays of sun descend

Their light can not illuminate the mind

For who among the living comprehend

The sudden death of one so full of life.

And now without a reason we are blind.

Beside his slumping body moves his wife

Her face withdrawn and drained a bloodless white

And tenderly her hand goes out to mend

As if not trusting sight, she wished to touch it right.

 

 

Raymond J. Clarke

 

An Lá Úd                          

   

Ag Dallas thíos faoi ghathanna na gréine 

Ag titim tré na scamaill fhánacha

Is iad ag tadhall ár lámh ‘tá faoina lé

Ag fáiltiú  John FitzGerald Kennedy.

Faoi shiúl i measc an dreama bhailithe

Ag claonadh naimhdis lena ghrianbhuí

D’imchas a shúil ar ghnúis na tuaithe.

An scáth místaince d’amhras dul in éag

Ó sholas ina gcroíthe, thuig na sluaite..

 

Ag Dallas thíos faoi ghathanna na gréine 

A léas frithchaite dealraíonn ón tsráid.

An drong á aithint gur mar chara é,

Frithchaitear cairdeas air ag gabháil thart.

Ach iompú dó arís ag croitheadh láimhe

Is scáil an bháis a chaitear ar a dhearc,

Na laethanta a spréite léis tá spíonta.

Fear dorcha ann, é maslaithe ón ngléire

Trí urchair as béal gunna, dhíothaigh sé an ghrian.

 

Ag Dallas thíos faoi ghathanna na gréine 

Ní féidir leis an intinn léas a fháil.

Cé ar an saol a thuigeas é go léir

An bás de dhuine ‘tá chomh lán de bheo.

Gan réasún againn leis atáimid dall!

Is féach, a bhean ag druidim ina threo

A haghaidh neamhfholach tráite siar is searg

A lámh go muirneach chuig an deirgchréacht

Ar nós, gan brath ar amharc, é a thadhall i gceart.

 

 

Réamonn Ó Cléirigh

 


 

 

Comment: Compared with earlier poems I had written in the beginning of the 1950s, there is a change here in this poem that I notice now. For example, "The Pencil", which I wrote in February/March 1951, had only one adjective in it, and the language was plain and simple, which was important to me then. This poem, written in the fall of 1964, is full of adjectives and the language is what you could call 'flowery'. Maybe, without being fully conscious of it, I was imitating the style of poems I saw in magazines. It seem obvious that I was planning for this poem to be seen by people --- perhaps to be sent to the Kennedy family --- as soon as it was finished. I might have been trying to impress folks out there by giving them the sort of thing they would like -- a kind of 'popular poem'.

 

If the adjectives are new and imitations, there's something else here that was old for me and maybe original. It is the way I chose the 'en', or '-end', spelling and sound to put throughout the rhyme. I did this, I remember, because of the 'en' and ‘d’ in the word 'Kennedy'. I have at least one early poem where I 'hid' letters from a certain girl's name in the words I used, --- without mentioning her, and the poem wasn't even about her. In this poem also, the repeating of the word 'light' and other words like it (even the words with the long 'i' sound) I did purposely to keep echoing the idea of 'light'.

 

I don't know where the triple assonance in the final lines came from. This is done in old Irish poetry but I wasn't aware of that yet. Among my books at home, I have a dual-language copy of Cúirt an Mheán-Oíche/The Midnight Court, by Brian Merriman, transl. by Patrick C. Power (1971), which I bought in Ennis in August 1974. This may be when I first became aware of the structural ornamentation in Irish 'Gaelic' poetry. I immediately began to experiment with this in English by beginning a long poem which I called 'Pearse's Cottage'. It has almost 200 lines but is not finished.

 

 

 

An Lá Úd

(as That Day, le Raymond Clarke)

le Séamas Ó Neachtain

 

 

 

In Dallas, agus solas lae ag dul i léig,

Ach geal go fóill na gathanna ag sníomh

Trí scamaill scaipthe agus seol ár ngéag

Ag fearadh míle fáilte roimhe, JFK 

Go croíúil, bhailigh sé na daoine lena haoibh,

An t-uachtarán ag taitneamh leo i dteacht a ré,

A ghnúis mar sciath ag lonrú mar scáthán don tír;

Ón dorchadas, dhúisigh sé a misneach, a thréig;

Dearfach ab ea an lá, cibé an scáth gan é.

 

In Dallas, agus solas lae ag dul i léig,

     Bhí dealramh ar na bóithre timpeall ‘s os a chomhair,

     Is cheap an slua go raibh a gcara ann gan bhréag;

     Thiomáin a ghluaisteán tharstu, ‘s thug sé dóibh beannacht,

     Ach d’éirigh sé a lámh is iompaíodh a threoir;

     Bánaíodh an taibhreamh, súile iata go docht;

     Ba dheireadh é an turas seo faoin spéir sa charr.

     Rinne duine mioscaiseach an beart dubh, is d’éag

An laoch, an bua, an lá, le splanc ar ghort an áir.

 

In Dallas, agus solas lae ag dul i léig,

     An ghrian ag dalladh anama, gan chiall, gan chúis.

     Snáithe an tsolais - cé a thuigfeadh? – in aimhréidh,

     An bás a mhúch an mheanma, an té chomh beo.

     Chaoin sí, iompróir, is ghlaoigh,  ach rinneadh bodhar, is chlis.

     Ba bhán a haghaidh, ba chiúin a chorp, b’ainnis leo.

     Go caoin a shín a bhean a lámh chun cabhrú leis –

     Ní raibh aon choinne aici roimh úrú an lae –

In ionad solais, tadhall, é caillte ina phleist.

 

 

 

 

(Scríobh Séamas an ceann seo sular scríobh Réamonn a leagan Gaeilge féin.)

 

Gach ceart ar cosnamh. © 2006 James Norton.