They laughed at one I loved –
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love’s doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.
Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.
But now I am back in her arms
The dew of an Indian summer morning lies
On bleached potato-stalks –
What age am I?
I do not know what age I am,
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women,
Nothing of cities,
I cannot die
Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.
I know of no poet who can combine the visionary with the concrete, even the mundane, to the extent of the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. He even managed to make a wonderful poem about the ward of a chest hospital. Here it is the factuality of those potato-stalks that balances the more obvious lyricism of violets and dew, and gives expression to the poet’s credo that ‘nothing whatever is by love debarred’.