11 of the most beautiful lines of Irish poetry you'll ever read
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11 of the most beautiful lines of Irish poetry you'll ever read

IRELAND is a nation synonymous with the written word.

From W.B. Yeats through to Seamus Heaney, these shores have been home to some of the finest poets ever to grace the planet.

So many beautiful poems and countless evocative lines – here are just 11 of our favourites...

 

11. Katherine Tynan "A Lament"

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Percy, golden-hearted boy,
In the heyday of his joy
Left his new-made bride and chose
The steep way that Honour goes.

Took for his the deathless song
Of the love that knows no wrong:
Could I love thee, dear, so true
Were not Honour more than you?

 

10. W.B. Yeats "When You are Old"

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

 

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9. Patrick Kavanagh "Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin"

O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully

 

8. Eavan Boland "The Lost Land: Poems"

This is what language is:
a habitual grief. A turn of speech
for the everyday and ordinary abrasion
of losses such as this:
which hurts
just enough to be a scar
And heals just enough to be a nation.

 

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7. Padraic Colum "An Old Woman Of The Roads"

O, TO have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

 

6. Eileen Carney Hulme "Belonging"

small spaces of silence
in between borrowed breaths
arms tighten
at the whisper of a name

all the words of the heart
the unanswered questions
are at this moment
blue rolling waves

 

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5. Seamus Heaney "The Railway Children"

We were small and thought we knew nothing
Worth knowing. We thought words travelled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops,
Each one seeded full with the light
Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves
So infinitesimally scaled
We could stream through the eye of a needle.

 

 

4. Patrick Pearse "The Wayfarer"

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,

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3. Austin Clarke "The Lost Heifer"

Turning sliver out of dark grasses
Where the skylark had lain,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist becoming rain.

 

2. Patrick Kavanagh "On Raglan Road"

On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

 

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1. W.B. Yeats "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.