slow as slurred speech
to allow a diluted light to fall on this town.
Commas of raindrops cling to branches
or drip from TV aerials.
Roofs gleam the way a flat lake would
on a summer evening.
The townsfolk creep along Main Street
wearing shabby clothes
and damaged expressions.
So much is unfamiliar in this town;
the irregular buildings, the cylindrical fells,
the baggy accent. A northern desolation
acting colourfully in some farcical charade.
A life as thin, as weak, as insubstantial
as the streaks of skeletal light.
but he didn’t play fair and he cheated.
And although I’m a sport from the King’s own court,
my revenge will be overheated.
By the hem of his coat may he fall from his boat
and get eaten by forty fishes.
May he take a new job to make a few bob
and end up washing the dishes.
May he fall downstairs and be eaten by bears
when he wakes on Friday morning.
Let him slip on an eel, become a crocodile’s meal
without a word of warning.
When on the coach to Crail may the handbrake fail
and the bus car spill over the cliff.
May an angry old goat eat his brand new coat
and his toes turn terribly stiff.
May his bed become boggy and his carpets all soggy
when a flood pours over his floor.
May he never be warm and a hurricane storm
blow a tree right through his door.
By the sole of his shoe may a huge kangaroo
chase him miles across the outback.
May a bat bite his toes and a rat steal his nose
and never ever give his snout back.
May every bad goblin from here to old Dublin
plague him in sleep or awake.
May he work in all weathers, be tickled by feathers
and have his eyeballs baked in a cake.
May a ghost from a grave give his head a close shave
and throw all his hair in the ocean.
And may an old banshee from the town of Dundee
feed him a poisonous potion.
May a troop of red ants creep into his pants
and cause him to scream and scratch.
May a firework rocket go off in his pocket
next time he lights a match.
May he shake and shiver when he falls in the river,
and let a crab swim into his mouth.
May he plunge in a pool on his way home from school
and the current carry him south.
I have a hand of metal,
I have a hand of clay,
I have two arms of granite
and a song for every day.
I have a foot of damson,
I have a foot of corn,
I have two legs of leaf-stalk
and a dance for every morn.
I have a dream of water,
I have a dream of snow,
I have a thought of wildfire
and a harp-string long and low.
I have an eye of silver,
I have an eye of gold,
I have a tongue of reed-grass
and a story to be told.
Copyright John Rice, 2014
This is one of my favourite poems. It has appeared in lots of anthologies and has been set to music and recorded by the wonderful Irish singer Padraigin Ni Uallachain on her CD called 'When I was Young: Children’s Songs from Ireland'. It’s a poem that tries to capture the essence of the Celtic cultural spirit as it mentions song, dance, storytelling and music.
Poetry Is Important: Very young babies adore nursery rhymes because they are rhythmic and repetitive.
As children get older, they begin to become fascinated by words and how they look and how they sound different from each other...words become quite attractive and interesting little machines!
Poetry allows us to experiment with rhythm and sound and also allows us to investigate language and meaning. Poetry is good for children just as porridge was good for Robert Burns!
What Makes Poetry So Cool?