Originally published in 2009, the debut collection of Bangor poet Myra Vennard sings with an almost religious intensity and luminosity, revelling in the natural world and in the fleeting landscapes of love, loss and mortality.
Whether writing of Torr Head, a swan drifting on the water, rhododendrons at daybreak, or the peculiar qualities of Ulster rain, Vennard brings to her poetry of observation not just an innate lyricism but an almost-moral belief in precision: this is poetry of subtle colourings, of the interplay of sunlight and shadow, of a determination to get it just so. Ruminations on the physicality of art, the consolations of classical music, the solidity of a Venetian tomb set against the fragility of life, sit side-by-side with a free-flowing joy at more modern examples of genius: impromptu jazz and the brilliance of Frank Sinatra.
from At the Old People’s Home
She is pale
she has no posturing
she lives in a stuffy room
with the not-quite-dead
her only future a moving picture
and the four o’clock tea-trolley.
This is no place
to invade death or sacrifice
the self for the whole.
Her looking up
is a delicious hugging of our sudden coming:
now, she is queen of purgatory
crossing the bridge to a perfect place —
her silent land
a thought of rising up and walking away.
you can smell the rain
before it comes.
Only Ulster knows its own rain
and its relentlessness:
threatening first down the coast,
over the sea, behind the mountain,
rolling inaudible from blackening yonder —
a slow drag of cloud
like massive pillows
smothering the sun.
that we had smelled the rain
before our birth,
before it seeped into our blood
and sprung an unfathomable well
behind our eyes.