by way of a tribute, I am posting five poems by George Fennell, taken from the
and Other Works (2006) reproduced by kind permission of his family.
George, who was a friend and sometimes mentor to me passed away quite recently. A man of many talents, he was, inter alia, a surgeon, writer, pianist, fencer, poet, and notable wit.
He will be sadly missed.
The still, dark cloud of death
Upon Jerusalem, all is night.
A thousand suns bear not the power
To light one fragment of this hour
Of degradation, fear and lies.
on the hill above
Lies all glory, hope and love,
Maternal anguish cries aloud,
Consigns humanity to the shroud
With tender helping hands and sighs.
rumble of the closing tomb
Resembles not the sound of doom
To prisoners who cannot see
The open gates, for are not we
The gaolers of our soul?
But on the
road to Emmaus shines
The light of lights, the dark confines
Of prison-house are shattered wide
For love and justice, side by side,
To enter and console.
sounding on the Easter morn,
The happy voice of mankind borne
Upon the wings of freedom sings
A greeting to the King of kings
“The Son of man again is born”.
poem, published 1950
When I pass on, what shall the
verdict be? –
That in that body lived a man who tried
But failed, was given eyes to see
The beauty all around, but died
relished all the treasures cast
Within his reach; whose reason
Should have sailed when skies o’ercast
Brought in the Winter season,
warm Summer followed Spring,
And then the golden leaves began to fall;
Thus Earth did Nature’s praises sing –
But I ignored it all.
foolish searching for material gain
Obscured much music, love and art;
The Poet bared his soul in vain,
I set my lonely self apart.
I looked up to the sky,
Saw only assets bought or sold.
No use now to wish and sigh,
My grave will not be lined with gold.
that strange tale of long ago,
Of broken bread and Holy Grail,
Have some relevance here below,
Might His promises prevail?
close the ledgers now and shut the till,
And walk towards that vague Promised Land
Where souls awake when hearts are still –
Rich man and pauper, hand in hand.
THE EYE AND EAR HOSPITAL
down, some quiet evening, by those graceful towers
On Adelaide Road, and ponder life’s demands –
Think of those grateful callers, at all hours,
Who found there friendly voices, helping hands.
feared for sight and came in desolation,
Many with failing health were near despair –
But always they found hope and consolation
At Dublin’s ‘Royal Victoria Eye and Ear’.
doctors, staff of every kind,
Are ready night and day to treat and care;
Emergencies and routine treatment find
The attention that one seeks – yes, help is near!
Academic Life within those halls
Draws seekers of truth from many lands;
From far-off nations they, within those walls,
Learn skill and knowledge for their healing hands.
names as Wilde and Swanzy, Mooney, Curtin,
Werner, Graham, O’Connell, and the rest,
Lend an atmosphere of dedication certain
To keep their memories live, their labours blest.
all this glorious history rules,
A council, whose services are sublime,
And, as another Century approaches,
We thank them for the fortunes of our time.
one hundred years of peerless reign,
Of almost endless nights and countless days,
They will hopefully continue to maintain,
As our grateful “anthem swells the note of praise”.
names crowd in to record and bless each one,
To tell unique and individual story –
No matter now, their work is still being done –
Be proud of the past! look on to future glory!
‘And much as wine has play’d the
And robbed me of my Robe of Honour – well
I often wonder what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the Goods they sell.’
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam
sounds grow quiet with the eve,
And then the weary workers make their way
To a quiet Inn where early drinks relieve
And wash away the stresses of the day.
are working now like busy bees,
And sounds of merriment soon fill the air,
As customers sit back and take their ease,
And pints and ‘small ones’ fill, then disappear.
Landlord hears the call to prayer
And quickly comes, his thirsty guests to greet;
His voice rings with a Londonderry Air
As he helps to make their happiness complete.
ministers who serve this jolly clutch,
Tom, Alan, Mark, St. Brian, and all the rest
(While lovely Lisa lends a woman’s touch)
Are busy now and giving of their best.
find this haven underneath a clock
Close by the pleasant lawns of Herbert Park,
Not many minutes walk from Domhnach Broc,
The stained-glass doorway gleaming after dark.
said: “whether the one True Light
Kindle to Love or Wrath consume me quite,
One glimpse of it within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.”
(Or, Feck Off Bunny)
rabbit spends his days in mating,
His nights in fervent copulating;
The results will not be funny
When we’re buried deep in surplus bunny!
Rathlin’s Isle to Mizzen Head
The Irish nation will be dead,
The Emerald Island just a blur
Hidden under layers of fur.
Desist!, erotic beast,
And pause in your licentious feast;
We’ll search you out with bomb and gun
And put an end to your foul fun.
attempt to spread your genes,
We’ll blow you into smithereens
It’s time that someone told you, rabbit,
“Sex can be a fatal habit”.
Taken from Resurrection and Other Works (2006).
All rights reserved.
Also in POETRY CORNER
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2. Prayer by Eoin Meegan
7. Pandora on Fire review of new fiction by Sylvia Warham.
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