(For Alice Milligan)
When the dark grows thin, and light shines bright to usher in the dawn,
The poet Alice, of fiery spirit, parts from nightly trysts with the sultry Muse
Who, in sacred friendship, brings solace to her in lonely vigil,
Awakening memories of one great language of love.
Her land of beauty rolls with the freedom of the seasons,
Its borders only imposed for human reasons
And not by the will of the Immortal Sidhe
Who walk hand in hand with She who treads with no fears in Light.
Yet she cries in the night, rebirthed with mortal tears for those whom she has lost.
Cautious blooms seep upon the wan cheeks of the wistful bard
Who hails the day with unruly lock and hooded eyes
Sinking deep into slumber even as the sun rises. You drew him once.
But he is frugal with his admiration and will never give Alice full praise
No matter what flag she raises with her poignant phrases.
Only the Muse embraces her always, leaving well-crafted words
Floating in dream’s hard and troubled shadows.
Blood of heroes stain all five roads to Teamhair’s door.
She knows there is only love left when fear and terror reign no more.
She advises, and is heeded but sometimes ignored though not for long,
Yet, nevertheless, the dove and servant of the gods is needed
And relentless in her quest, she deserves to be remembered, beyond life and death.
She whispers her last breath of spinning song to the spirit of missing words,
To raise gentle hope and happiness in the joyous return of Irish poetry
To the present bards’ soliloquys of long-lost and new-found love.
And so, the coloured cloak of the poet warrior lends ancient and noble protection
In all battles and drum rattling, regardless of the cause,
For to slay the poet, they destroy the recorder of their known or secret history,
This did not slip your mind, Alice, for it became your safe shield in life
And left your chalice of words free from which others will, for centuries, sip.
© Dwina Murphy-Gibb. 2016.
Montage: Claire Palmer