Monday, April 1, 2013

Katharine Tynan

Katharine Tynan (1859—1931) is the most prominent female writer associated with the Irish Revival which began in the 1880s. She and W.B. Yeats were close friends for years, and encouraged one another in their poetry. They wrote to one another for decades; his side of the correspondence was eventually published as Letters to Katharine Tynan (1953). She also exchanged letters with Gerard Manley Hopkins whom she first met in 1886.

Her first book of poetry Louise de la Vallière and Other Poems (1885) established her reputation. The following poem comes from her collection Twenty One Poems By Katharine Tynan (1907); the poems for the book were selected by Yeats. The second poem comes from Flower of Youth: Poems in War Time (1915).


Bring flowers to strew His way,
Yea, sing, make holiday;
Bid young lambs leap,
And earth laugh after sleep.

For now He cometh forth
Winter flies to the north,
Folds wings and cries
Amid the bergs and ice.

Yea, Death, great Death is dead,
And Life reigns in his stead;
Cometh the Athlete
New from dead Death's defeat.

Cometh the Wrestler,
But Death he makes no stir,
Utterly spent and done,
And all his kingdom gone.

A Prayer (For Those Who Shall Return)

LORD, when they come back again
From the dreadful battlefield
To the common ways of men,
Be Thy mercy, Lord, revealed!
Make them to forget the dread
Fields of dying and the dead!

Let them go unhaunted, Lord,
By the sights that they have seen:
Guard their dreams from shell and sword;
Lead them by the pastures green,
That they wander all night long
In the fields where they were young.

Grant no charnel horrors slip
'Twixt them and their child's soft face.
Breast to breast and lip to lip,
Let the lovers meet, embrace!
Be they innocent of all
Memories that affright, appal.

Let their ears love music still,
And their eyes rejoice to see
Glory on the sea and hill,
Beauty in the flower and tree.
Drop a veil that none may raise
Over dreadful nights and days.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: