Read Paula Meehan’s “Ballad of the Fallen World”


The Ark was honoured to be the beneficiary of 9/11 Ireland Remembers, a commemorative concert for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with the Enchiriadis Treis Choir on Sunday in The Convention Centre Dublin. Poet Paula Meehan read a poem she had written especially for the occasion and has kindly given us permission to reproduce it here.

 

The Ark was honoured to be the beneficiary of 9/11 Ireland Remembers, a commemorative concert for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with the Enchiriadis Treis Choir on Sunday in The Convention Centre Dublin. Poet Paula Meehan read a poem she had written especially for the occasion and has kindly given us permission to reproduce it here.

Ballad of the Fallen World

You were brother to me in the darkness
You were sister to me in my pain
You, friend, with the stranger’s eyes
I never even knew your name

Outside the storm has gone over,
the ash has drifted to rest,
the earth has covered the broken,
the sun still sets in the west.

The gulls are heading downriver —
father of water, mother of rain.
A child kicks leaves in the gutter;
far off: lonely lonely singing train.

I soothe the child to sleep at night
the story of a maid, a prison tower,
told over and over. Her braided hair;
her lover; her saviour.

No poetry after Auschwitz —
the learned philosopher’s belief.
Poets went on making poems.
The empty doorway. Centuries of grief.

There are those who track the paths of stars
across the face of the earth;
those who calibrate the electron’s spin
who estimate its worth.

There are those who speak of angry gods,
karmic vengeance, immensities.
It’s the ignorant, not the innocent, I fear,
spinning their sad simplicities.

I tell the child it’s a mystery
why human creatures act as they do.
I show her the scales of history —
what’s been weighed there and by who.

We sit and watch the stars come out
one by fatal one;
their light so old, the source is spent
that once were blazing suns.

You were brother to me in the darkness
You were sister to me in my pain
You, friend, with the stranger’s eyes
I never even knew your name.

Paula Meehan
Dublin, September 11, 2011


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