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Curse of The Birds / Noel Monahan

Curse of The Birds

By: Noel Monahan

€12.00 €6.00
Curse of The Birds evokes a world of myth and dark energies. The flight of the soul in each of the four sections is unsettling. Ghosts abound in a bleak fragmented landscape. Curse of The Birds is a quarrel from within, wrestling with loneliness and uncertainty. It is elegiac, mischievously humorous and satirical. Noel Monahan speaks with compassion about and for the voiceless people whose ghosts haunt him.  ...
Pub Date Monday, May 01, 2000
Cover Image Austin Carey. Design by Brenda Dermody
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Curse of The Birds evokes a world of myth and dark energies. The flight of the soul in each of the four sections is unsettling. Ghosts abound in a bleak fragmented landscape. Curse of The Birds is a quarrel from within, wrestling with loneliness and uncertainty. It is elegiac, mischievously humorous and satirical. Noel Monahan speaks with compassion about and for the voiceless people whose ghosts haunt him. 

Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan is a native of Granard, Co. Longford, now living in Cavan. He has published seven earlier collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry, with an eight collection, Celui Qui Porte Un Veau, a selection of French translations of his work, published in France by Alidades in 2014. A selection of Italian translations of his poetry, Tra Una Vita E L’Altra, was published in Milan by Guanda in 2015. His poetry was prescribed text for the Leaving Certificate English, 2011 to 2012. His play Broken Cups won the RTE P.J. O’Connor award in 2001 and in 2019 his long poem, Chalk Dust, was adapted for stage and directed by Padraic McIntyre for Ramor Theatre. During Covid-19 lockdown in 2021, Noel reinvented his poetry readings by producing a selection of short films entitled Isolation & Creativity, Still Life, Tolle Lege and A Poetry Day Ireland Reading for Cavan Library. Recently, Noel edited Chasing Shadows, a miscellany of poetry for Creative Ireland. Journey Upstream is his ninth poetry collection.


Curse of The Birds

The boy who robbed the nest,
Ate the swallow's eggs,
Is plucking

Devil's-bit by night
Down in the wetlands
On his knees,

Beak to the ground,
Curls stretching into feathers,
The moon is hatching in his head.
 
 
The Corlea Road

After a long silence
The bog heaved, delivered a road,
So we could see ourselves
In a dark mirror.

I've been sleep-walking
On The Corlea Road,
Listening to iron feet
Trod the night,
Watching young girls stretch their legs
To paint their toe nails.

That grey bearded fellow
With his chin on his knees
Is a story-teller. He believes
The Corlea Road is a highway cover-up
For Midir's mad love for Etain.

Others say the road was never walked,
It's just there between places
For nightmares and dreams.

A road to be abroad on,
In a Ringdong Bog,
Where corduroy lines await music,
Birch lights pole the dark,
Black sleepers stave the clatter of wheels.
Dream road, wooden road,
A road raised up to the light
That will talk,
If you give it time to speak.
 
 
Abbeyshrule

They were all peering
At me in Abbeyshrule,
Little tonsured men
Down at the bridge, up the trees,
Behind headstones, gates and gables.

And they inveigled me
Down to the ruins
Of the abbey by the stream,
Leaving the everyday words for Latin.

When I sang
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Before an altar of nettles,
Blackbirds and starlings
Flew from the vestry.

Back in the local
I drank Guinness,
Told them the village was alive
With the ghosts of dead monks.

(Copyright Noel Monahan 2000. All Rights Reserved.)
Review by Maurice Harmon in the Autumn 2000 issue of Poetry Ireland Review, edited by Biddy Jenkinson

Noel Monahan is a capable poet who shapes his poems with skill, liking the well-made look (even lines, spare language, concrete images) and this suits him. When he works in a looser form -- with lines of uneven length and a free verse form -- the effect is less satisfying and the poems have an unfinished quality.  He has a lively, buoyant personality, a fresh adventurous imagination and delights in verbal dexterity. His fine poetic intelligence is sometimes indebted to that able craftsman, Austin Clarke, particularly in the word-play. Some poems have the freshness of folk tales, the magic of myth and legend. The unexpected is a cause of delight. Monahan's poems take place in a sunlit imagination where the blacker side of life, although not absent, is not allowed to darken the material. They are delightful poems, entertaining, high-spirited, with their feet on the ground of the familiar even when they deal with the marvelous and the invisible.

'The Dance' takes place in a real place, a dance-hall in Granard, but the normality of the night is disturbed by the dancer from 'nowhere'.

          Long-haired. Dark skinned.
          A gleam in his eye.
          He was in such demand.

His erection is something else. When a partner fainted, 'Hysteria broke loose' and the man from God knows where exits through the floor in 'flames and smoke'. The result is as one might expect -- fathers 'up in arms', shut-down, gossip, wild stories of orgies, naked women, some sex-mad.

Monahan has a relaxed touch: exact without being uptight. When he creates a picture, the means are few and simple, as in 'The Swallow's Nest'.

          Almost April,
          Each mud-eye
          Is a word of mouth
          Calling them back
          To patch the wall
          In the half-way house.

It is hardly surprising that he writes 'Drumlin Haiku'.

          Rosary of hills
          Chained to the cold religion
          Of the ice goddess.

The mythological poems are light and magical; they dazzle the mind and have a comic touch, as in 'Abbeyshrule'.

          They were all peering
          At me in Abbeyshrule,
          Little tonsured men
          Down at the bridge, up the trees,
          Behind headstones, gates and gables.

          When I sang
          Stabat Mater Dolorosa
          Before an altar of nettles,
          Blackbirds and starlings
          Flew from the vestry.

There are lovely poems in Part III, such as 'The Haymaker', 'The Nuns' Graveyard' and 'Donnelly's Bus'. One hardly expects so much pleasure in a small collection.

(Copyright: Poetry Ireland Review, 2000)

Other Titles from Noel Monahan

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