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On An Apple-Ripe September Morning by Patrick Kavanagh

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Since completing my top 100 Irish poems list, I have been looking for other Irish poems to include, and I came across this lovely gem of an Irish poem by Patrick Kavanagh. I always enjoy his poetry as he just has a way of describing the scene in such a vivid way. You may have read a few of these other poems like Stony Grey Soil or Spraying the potatoes.

And this Irish poem is no different; first published in 1956, the poem describes the beauty of an early autumn morning in the Irish countryside and reflects on the passing of time and the inevitability of change. Reflecting is certainly something that I think Kavanagh did a lot of.  The poem presents a realistic image of a rural Irish town during harvest season when labour and socializing coexist. Kavanagh’s use of dialect and colloquial language provides a feeling of authenticity and immediacy, and his views of nature are filled with surprise and joy.

Irish countryside

The poem finally indicates that, even as time passes and things change, the rhythms of life in the countryside are eternal and timeless.

Enjoy this arguably timeless Irish poem. 

On An Apple-Ripe September Morning

On an apple-ripe September morning
Through the mist-chill fields I went
With a pitch-fork on my shoulder
Less for use than for devilment.

The threshing mill was set-up, I knew,
In Cassidy’s haggard last night,
And we owed them a day at the threshing
Since last year. O it was delight

To be paying bills of laughter
And chaffy gossip in kind
With work thrown in to ballast
The fantasy-soaring mind.

As I crossed the wooden bridge I wondered
As I looked into the drain
If ever a summer morning should find me
Shovelling up eels again.

And I thought of the wasps’ nest in the bank
And how I got chased one day
Leaving the drag and the scraw-knife behind,
How I covered my face with hay.

The wet leaves of the cocksfoot
Polished my boots as I
Went round by the glistening bog-holes
Lost in unthinking joy.

I’ll be carrying bags to-day, I mused,
The best job at the mill
With plenty of time to talk of our loves
As we wait for the bags to fill.

Maybe Mary might call round…
And then I came to the haggard gate,
And I knew as I entered that I had come
Through fields that were part of no earthly estate.

Did you enjoy this Irish poem?

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