Intensity

I’m listening to  John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men on audiobook at the moment and feel completely intimidated in my writing. I have been knocked sideways by his ability to create a sense of sound through great choice of words. The other writer (also a Nobel Prize Winner) who I see as having that extraordinary talent is Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

Part of my birthday expedition yesterday brought me to Hook Head Light House in Co. Wexford ~ which I’ve written about here many times before. It’s one of those places that I love both up close and from afar. On dark nights in Tramore, we can see the light of the Hook, like an old friend, smiling in the distance. And to be beside this 800 year old lighthouse is just something special.

It was coming towards sunset when I got there yesterday and I just stood in awe, like I always do, gazing at its solidity out there in the wilds of the Hook Penninsula.

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Hook Head Lighthouse, Co. Wexford. 

Just beneath the lighthouse, facing out to sea were two very ordinary, well-worn kitchen chairs. The sight of them, clearly with a history, but now empty, completely knocked the wind out of my sails.

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Together

I was glad that the chairs had each other and they looked so comfortable in their ‘companionable silence,’ to steal from W.B. Yeats.

Their emptiness was piercing, at one level, as they reminded me of Mother and Father’s empty chairs in their kitchen after they had died ~ first one and then the other. Their chairs faced each other, though, at either end of the kitchen table, not like this pair.

The little glint as the setting sun caught the chair on the left gave these a sense of warmth, a sense of hope, a deep sense of ongoing love. I felt that if I waited I would see the lovers return to watch the sun set fully and the bright beacon of Hook Lighthouse take over but time called me too ~ called me to go back home to our kitchen chairs that we’ve had for twenty-five years now.

Stepping Out for Inspiration

Before Composing a Syllable
Before Composing a Syllable

There are times when  I seriously doubt my sanity and those doubts came in massive waves the other morning when I went for the two hour walk around Tramore Beach on what was the most bitterly cold morning we’ve had in years.

I just couldn’t resist it and was heartened by a teenage memory of walking on Baltray Beach, Co. Louth with my father when our faces were battered by the hardest, cruelest hailstones that ever fell from the sky! It was a day we laughed about right up until he died over half a century later.

As I huddled into the wind, determined I would never tell anyone I’d gone for this mad walk, I doubled back to take a second look at a chair which someone had lodged securely against the elements and which was obviously a special place for him/her. It was at the half-way point where one walks up the ‘channel’ towards the Backstrand.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

That chair brought me to this poem from one of my poetic heroes, Billy Collins. It’s a poem that I read over and over and is one which never fails to inspire me.

Advice to Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Billy Collins

(Source: Billy Collins, 2000,  Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes: Selected Poems, Picador)

Writing from the Heart
Writing from the Heart

Take Your Seat ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 217

I was all set over the weekend to try and sketch a chair that now lives in our garden but which was once a key part of our kitchen ~ a sturdy wooden chair.

Me on Kitchen Chair Photo: Frank Tubridy
Me on Kitchen Chair
Photo: Frank Tubridy

However, I ended up gadding around the country and with seats on my mind, these two in Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford took my fancy as they differ so much from each other.

Wooden Seat in the Upper Walled Garden, Lismore Castle,Co, Waterford
Wooden Seat in the Upper Walled Garden, Lismore Castle,Co, Waterford
Pink Seat at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford
Pink Seat at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford

What chairs or seats capture your imagination?