The Skylarks of Ballycastle

O those Ballycastle skylarks of 1949,

The companions of my solitary play.

All that passion seemed so far away –

I could not ever make it mine.

Now once again I hear that song as it echoes in my brain –

Its instrumental purity –

That self-same, sad refrain

Distils essential ‘sehn sucht’ longings,

Inexpressible, sweet pain.

Are the ‘Links’ there still as springy

Neath newly-sandaled feet ?

Do the wild flowers bloom as freely ?

Does that first tangy, salt breeze still entreat ?

O tell me my skylarks’ progeny

Still sing there just as sweet.

And can we learn the meaning

Of those melodies without words ?

P’raps only in transcendence

Of a separate, self-loved heart

Is our spirit freed to worship with the larks –

Forever pouring forth their joyful, sacramental art.


A PomoXian Jamboree ?

Come all of you who’ve got a spot of ‘oirish’,

(Not forgetting true-myth creatures from the ‘Shire’).

Bring Cabanero pepper and some ‘Poteen’ –

We’ll be an impact-making, ‘pomo’, ‘oirish’ choir !

If you ever come across the sea to ‘Oirland’

To the World PomoXian Real-Time Jamboree,

Don’t forget to bring your band from near Seattle

We’ll help them find their roots in ‘dark Rosleen’.


[A fun song to the tune of ‘Galway Bay’ for members of the old

PomoXian -po(st)mo(dern) Christianity Forum]


The Peace Bird

The Peace Bird that flies over Ireland

Has been wounded many times.

As it flies o’er Belfast city,

Armagh and Derry too.

And all along the Border

As it flies for me and you.

O yes, the Peace Bird is flying tonight.

And Mary has painted the Peace Bird

To remind  us that it’s there.

Christmas 1981  [written in Cornwall in response to a child’s

Christmas card illustration.]


I am living in a country that is not my native land

On an altogether different piece of earth

But perhaps the only place I’ll ever really understand

Is my well-beloved island home,

The land which gave me birth.

For I belong by birth-right to a folk who are apart

And their special zest for living is always in my heart.

Their heritage is beauty in the hills and lakes and trees

And every exile heart is stirred by memories of these.

But there’s sadness in the beauty of my lovely island home.

Some people there are prisoners whose thoughts may never roam

Outside the rigid system which

They’ve learned to need too much

And although I understand them,

I can no longer talk to such.

Christmas 1964