Pàgina d'inici > Ecos de l'Odissea > Lady Gregory, la Penèlope de Kiltartan. Padraic Fallon

Lady Gregory, la Penèlope de Kiltartan. Padraic Fallon

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My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

W.B. Yeats
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
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Kiltartan Legend

Penelope pulls home
Rogue-lord, artist, world wanderer,
Simply by sitting in a house,
Its sturdy genius;
Of all sirens the most dangerous.

She’ll sit them out,
The curious wonders, the ventriloquial voices,
Spacious landfalls, the women, beds in the blue;
Her oceanography
The garden pond, her compass a knitting needle.

The arc-lamped earth, she knows,
Will burn away and she
Still potter among her flowers waiting for him;
Apollo runs before
Touching the blossoms, her unborn sons.

Knitting, unknitting at the half-heard
Music of her tapestry, afraid
Of the sunburned body, the organs, the red beard
Of the unshipped mighty male
Home from the fairy tale;

Providing for him
All that’s left of her she ties and knots
Threads everywhere; the luminous house
Must hold and will
Her trying warlord home.

Will she know him?
Dignity begs the question that must follow.
She bends to the web where her lord’s face
Glitters but has no fellow
And humbly, or most royally, adds her own.

Padraic Fallon (1905 – 1974)

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Padraic Fallon
‘A Look in the Mirror’ and other poems

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[…]

Fallon became a Civil Servant who made his literary reputation as a contributor to Seumas O’Sullivan’s Dublin Magazine in the 1930s. He was encouraged by AE (George Russell), met Yeats, and was a valued friend of Austin Clarke, F. R. Higgins and Patrick MacDonogh. His radio plays were broadcast by Radio Eireann and the BBC, and his stage plays produced in Cork and Dublin. These achievements would suggest a successful career as a man of letters but for one crucial blank: Fallon did not publish in book form until several months before his death in 1974, when his Collected Poems appeared from Dolmen Press. A further Collected appeared in 1990, some three-quarters of which (excluding juvenilia and some translations) are represented in “A Look in the Mirror” and Other Poems.

The problematic side of Yeats’s influence is seen most clearly in early, set piece poems such as “Yeats’s Tower at Ballylee” and “Poem for My Mother”. In both, Fallon echoes the elegant stanzaic patternings of the poems from The Tower, and meditates on family history and inheritance, mythology and topographical lore. Yet when we read of how a Norman settler “Divined like an architect a house of life / Where violence had an energetic place / Only to find a holy face / Stare back serenely from the end of strife”, the suspicion must be that strife has ended only because the poet has accepted the older poet’s vocabulary and mannerisms with an almost abject passivity.

At this point, a reader new to him may fear the worst, but Fallon comes to a reckoning with his Yeatsian inheritance with impressive speed. “Another emblem there”, Yeats announced in “Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931”, but Fallon backs off from such imperious transformations of the given world. If the “ornamental water” of Johnstown Castle “Should be backed with mercury that the sculptured swan / May be ideal swan forever”, the poet prefers to shatter the ornamental mirror, “Because a real swan mucks up a lake”; and that, he implies, is as it should be. His adoption of a polished but easygoing classical register becomes an important resource: celebration and civilized scepticism combine in Horatian measures. In “Kiltartan Legend”, Fallon portrays Lady Gregory as an Anglo- Irish Penelope pulling her “Rogue-lord, artist, world-wanderer” home “Simply by sitting in a house, / Its sturdy genius”; less flatteringly, in “On the Tower Stairs”, she becomes “A dumpy vernacular Victoria”.

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David Wheatley, Times Literary Supplement, 8th July 2005

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Padraic Fallon

‘A Look in the Mirror’ and other poems

Carcanet Press Ltd. Manchester, 2003

ISBN: 9781857546422

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