Category Archives: Poetry

Above the cliffs of Duino

In January 1912 the poet Rainer Maria Rilke was staying with the Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe at the castle in the small village of Duino, just up the coast from Trieste. It was whilst staying there and walking along the clifftops, that the first line of what would become the Duino Elegies – one of his most celebrated works – came to him.

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.

(Translated from the German by A.S. Kline, here)

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Requiem for a Sycamore – Hatchet Field

(above: Hatchet Field, photo: Ciarán Ó Brolcháin)

In yesterday’s article, Beatrix Campbell interviewed Terry Enright, whose poem Requiem for a Sycamore, pays homage to the small clump of trees that populate the Hatchet Field. The field is unique, its grassland and sycamores contrasting with the bracken and heather of the hillside.

Requiem for a Sycamore

I saw you looking down,
Your mighty branches spread,
Like muscles on a giant,
500 thousand leaves, and more,
Love letters carved on your bark
The beauty of the hill

You were my shelter from the sun,
Cover from the rain,
I sat in the silence of winter snow,
A single Wren stared at me,
Voices whispering in the wind,
High above everything

War in the streets below,
Spies in the grass,
Happy children swinging on a single rope,
Flying over Belfast without wings,
To the pain and joy you have seen

Now I sit on your prostrate corpse,
Felled by November storms,
I lament your passing,
Nature, like life itself,
Demands a price, we all must pay,
Still I cherish, the pleasure we have shared,
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