Monday, November 9, 2020

Gerard Smyth

Gerard Smyth is a Dublin poet who has authored ten poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Sundays of Eternity (2020, Dedalus Press). His earliest poetry appeared in the late ‘60s, including his first book The Flags Are Quiet (1969, New Writers’ Press). He spent his entire professional life as a journalist with The Irish Times, where he still serves as Poetry Editor.

Three of his poems are included in the landmark issue of Poetry Ireland Review (#112 ― Name and Nature: ‘Who do you say that I am?’) edited by John F. Deane, which includes poetry by Seamus Heaney, Pádraig J. Daly, and Rowan Williams.

The first of the following poems was inspired by the large-scale painting “Blue Crucifixion” by Hughie O’Donoghue. The second one, written at the beginning of our current pandemic, has been set to music by British composer Philip Lawton for the choir of Berlin's Passionskirche (Church of the Passion).

Blue Crucifixion

for Clare and Hughie O’Donoghue

Not the crudely sketched
man of sorrows
from the cover-image
of the old school catechism
that was touched
and smudged so much
it lost its mystic fragrance.

And not Gauguin’s Yellow Christ
in the Breton countryside,
a Golgotha made strange
by those maids in attendance.
Or Poussin’s Redeemer
down from the Cross
under the gaze of the spellbound.

But the Blue Crucifixion
shows a fleshy semblance
of human wreckage that belongs
to a man who was counted
among the transgressors.
Our idea of him electrified
by such mystery as art requires.


Bunched together like a gathering tribe
the daffodils rise again and there are signs
of sun behind the clouds.
We still have bread and books
and songs to keep the radio alive.
A note through the door is a kind surprise
and birds on the branches
of the trees outside stay up late.
The mornings are not so dark,
the internet takes us to the works of art,
tunes us in to Debussy or Paul Simon,
brings us close to the faraway country
where loved ones are.
A kite above someone’s back garden
rises and dips and gives a moment of joy
to a face in the window of isolation.

March 17th-19th, 2020

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.