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Lines Written On A Seat On The Grand Canal, Dublin, ‘Erected To The Memory Of Mrs Dermot O’Brien’

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Another great poem by the incredible Patrick Kavanagh (1904 – 1967). A lovely Irish poem that has no break in its 14 lines. Kavanagh speaks about the thought and feeling of remembering someone whose name is on a seat on the Grand Canal in Dublin. In Kavanagh’s later years, when he had an alcohol problem, he liked to walk by the Grand Canal or sit watching the water. 

I am sure you will agree that this poem is wonderful. The most superficial descriptions put you right where he was sitting. 

There is now a statue of him on the Grand Canal that I encourage you to stop and sit if you ever get a chance. You can imagine how he felt sitting on the erected bench to the memory of Mrs Dermot O’Brien. 

Patrick Kavanagh bench


Lines Written on a Seat
on the Grand Canal, Dublin

‘Erected to the memory of Mrs. Dermot O’Brien’

By Patrick Kavanagh

O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose
Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands.
A swan goes by head low with many apologies,
Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges –
And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
And other far-flung towns mythologies.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.

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