Letting Go

The concept of ‘letting go’ is one that has been very much on my mind, of late, but I have been thinking about it in relation to people, memories ~ things human, in other words ~ as opposed to inanimate things.

However, I seem to have been photographing a lot of  abandoned  ‘things’ of late and then today I was leafing through a wonderful collection of Irish Poems, selected by the great Michael Longley.  I was a little shocked, though I shouldn’t have been, to find that I had earmarked this  thought-provoking poem by Michael Coady, who is from Carrick-on-Suir, a town which has a foot in both Co. Tipperary and Co. Waterford.

Letting Go

I love the abandon
of abandoned things
the harmonium surrendering
in a churchyard in Aherlow,
the hearse resigned to nettles
behind a pub in Carna,
the tin dancehall possessed 
by convolvulus in Kerry,
the living room that hosts 
a tree in south Kilkenny.
I sense a rapture
in deserted things
washed-out circus posters
derelict on gables,
lush forgotten sidings
of country railway stations,
bat droppings profligate
on pew and font and lectern,
the wedding dress a dog 
has nosed from a dustbin.
I love the openness
of things no longer viable,
I sense their shameless
slow unbuttoning:
the implicit nakedness
there of the taking,
the surrender to the dance
of breaking and creating.

(Michael Coady included in  20th-Century Irish Poems Selected by Michael Longley, 2002, Faber and Faber:London)

The most recent photograph of an ‘abandoned thing’ that I took was this seat at a falling-down thatched pub on the road between Michael Coady’s  Carrick-on-Suir and my home town of  Tramore. It has been haunting me as I would so love to know about the people who sat on it; the stories and gossip it heard …..

The Old Seat
The Old Seat

I’m beginning to wonder now if we can ever really separate ‘things’ from ‘people.’ What do you reckon?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

28 thoughts on “Letting Go”

    1. Hi Emily, interesting you should make this point as I have been pondering the very notion of ‘letting go’ in terms of people. So much depends on the context but I think that there is huge pressure at a societal level to see people ‘move on’ ~ whatever that means!

  1. I love that poem and your photo of the seat.

    I’ve got a whole collection of “abandoned things” photos not yet posted on my blog. Perhaps I should have a special slot once a week, with that as a title. When I’m not feeling sociable, one of my favourite dog-walks is along a wide twitten between garages. There are all sorts of abandoned, broken, and overgrown things to photograph there.

  2. I do associate things with people , I am afraid to admit I also get attached to object they seem to take on a personality … I often find myself apologizing to things if I am throwing them away! Froends and family rest happily in the sure and certain knowledge that I am touched!..I am not I am just a sensitive soul with a vivid imagination! 🙂 xx

  3. Reminds me of another poem about an abandoned shed in County Wexford (?) can’t think of the poet’s name.

  4. I like that poem – poetry generally leaves me cold. Ireland is a treasure trove of abandoned buildings and structures. England has a heritage of industrial history, free for the viewing. In many parts of rural Europe you can find abandoned hamlets and villages. Under the right circumstances and conditions I am certain that you can reconnect these places with those that knew them during their lifetimes.

    1. Roy, I have a feeling that you could come to love a lot of poems!
      I’m glad to say that even since posting this photo I’ve been finding out a good bit more about the pub and who may have been sitting on the seat and when!

  5. Beautiful–and very thought-provoking! Coady’s poem is an amazing word picture. I especially liked the line about hearse resigned to the nettles. And, your picture of the abandoned bench with the question about how do we separate people from things probably will have me pondering it for several days.

    1. Hi Sonya, thank you very much for writing. I’, glad you liked the poem. I agree that it makes the photo less desolate but somehow I can see people on that seat!

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