Patrick Cullinan Poems


To have love and then lose it:
the white hail in the orchard
lying with leaves it has stripped
and the storm moving away.... more »


It is a moving thing
to see in this figure
how the maker
has shown the girl
or young woman
plaiting her hair
so that the arm and fingers
as they move,
the tress itself,
are one piece in the clay,
fused, that no part
of the model should crack
in the oven,
that no part of the moment
be lost.

Just two feet high -
it might have been
an image for her tomb:
but who knows that
or anything
about this girl
who has no name,
no story? Even
the tongue she spoke
is blocked, obscure:
dust upon dust,
twenty five centuries,
all memory.

And the figure half turns,
to stare at me,
as though I
could give a name:
as though death did not
repeal identity,
as though there were
a body there,
a spirit that I must see,

And I try to imagine
those who called
the craftsman in,
the maker,
saying to him:
You knew, you knew her well,
make her for us, make her
as we knew her in this life.

And it was
as he had seen her last,
sitting outside the house,
debonair in the morning,
plaiting her hair in the sun,
the hands and fingers quickly
pushing in and out
so closely that
the moment and the movement
and the maker saw
that they were one.

In memoriam S.B.C.... more »


Cockcrow at midwinter dark, air moving,
and then a slow
incantation from each tree,
as when the light comes slowly, crossing
centuries of dark on dark moving, slowly
the candour of the sun, as water
almost pauses for the brim, waiting
one slow moment, then goes beyond
a hesitation not its own,
steeping a new element,
so the light, so the fire
on water, earth and air: slow
the genesis.

Into each trick
of your head,
deft heiress, into
each cry
or reaching out
your fingers make,
each glance that blurs
about our awe,
come the centuries:
the spirit and mortality,
the virtue of our kind,
come random through
the strict inheritance,
the wide
deep ending of our past.

I watch you now and watch
how once a saint bent with your knee,
ghost-cosseted: and I may feel
the mad or innocent
throbbing in your pulse
or think that one who paints
an orange beast upon a rock
lingers in your smile. Newly-born,
here are those they hanged
and those who brought the harvest in:
the men at battle, grinning,
who learned the dialect of death,
who now lie buried, blank,
beneath the peat or bush.

It was for you the women died,
who, starved, and sick with hate,
have you for triumph now, you
once more their birth. Here
is ghostly policy and rage,
the labour and the knowledge.
O small thing, made, that lies
within your mother's arms,
you are the coming from, and all
that is to be.

Small and yet
a thing that bubbles
in itself, considering
itself: is godly
in its way, its
knowledge of the path
to take, the openings
of fate: and it will lose
that blest
and vague
that impotent serenity,
will, in itself
and as itself, choose
just what to know,
at what
will find
the posture fit
for day and night,
a fresh dexterity
of hand and heart, new
reachings of the will, within,

This shortest day in which
we saw you first
will send its light and shadow
through long seasons
of your own. Sleep now,
granddaughter, sleep
in the sanctity of birth:
you hold within your fist
the blessing and the curse,

all growing and all blight.
Hold your testament,
hold it as you must
within a fist
as blind and potent as a nut,
hold us,
all those whom Adam
or the older gods begat.... more »

Patrick Cullinan Quotes

Comments about Patrick Cullinan

sizucco 09 May 2019 12:19
why is there no on the wild coast poem