Monday, December 27, 2010

Death of an Irishwoman by Michael Hartnett (poem)

Someone on FB mentioned Hartnett as one of the greatest Irish poets, and I did some digging.  After reading this one below, I have to say I'm pretty struck by his words...a new find for me to explore!

Death of an Irishwoman

by Michael Hartnett

Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
and pagan, in the sense
she knew the things that moved
all night were neither dogs or cats
but hobgoblin and darkfaced men
She nevertheless had fierce pride.
But sentenced in the end
to eat thin diminishing porridge
in a stone-cold kitchen
she clenched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.

She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a cardgame where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child's purse, full of useless things.


  1. "She was a child's purse, full of useless things."

    That's so cynical and sad. Surely, she meant more than that; most people do in their own way.

    This is so sad.

  2. Kathy,
    Funny thing is, I kind of thought it was romantic! I mean, the child's purse...full of useful things, maybe to an adult, but useful to a child! Little treasures...And a card game where someone's nose is broken, well that's memorable! I thought it was somehow sweet...