Two Poems about Mothers

For all my eccentricities (there are 42, I counted), the one thing I am very serious about is poetry. As an English teacher, it is probably my favourite aspect of the subject. There is such a wealth of beautiful poetry out there and there is nothing more rewarding than searching for your own meaning in a verse. (Except pizza. Pizza is always more rewarding.) 

Here are two poems written by Irish poets that I think you guys will enjoy. The both have a common theme, in that both poets are fondly remembering their mothers and their respective memories of them.

The first is by one of my favourite poets, Seamus Heaney. This poem was recently chosen as Ireland’s favourite poem. 

When all the others were away at Mass

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

(For those of you who may not be aware of what ‘Mass’ is, it’s what Catholic people call going to church.)

The next poem is similarly poignant and evocative. It is by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh.

In Memory of My Mother

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay 
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see 
You walking down a lane among the poplars 
On your way to the station, or happily 

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday – 
You meet me and you say: 
‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle – ‘ 
Among your earthiest words the angels stray. 

And I think of you walking along a headland 
Of green oats in June, 
So full of repose, so rich with life – 
And I see us meeting at the end of a town 

On a fair day by accident, after 
The bargains are all made and we can walk 
Together through the shops and stalls and markets 
Free in the oriental streets of thought. 

O you are not lying in the wet clay, 
For it is a harvest evening now and we 
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight 
And you smile up at us – eternally.


I hope you enjoyed these lovely poems. They certainly evoke some powerful emotions in me. Have a great evening πŸ™‚

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21 thoughts on “Two Poems about Mothers

  1. dweezer19 says:

    They are both so lovely Janey. The first is my favorite. I love memories like that. Like my mother teaching me how yo make biscuits when I was six and tearing off a part of the dough so I could shoe my own, being careful not to handle them too much so they would not be “tough”. Then years later complimenting me for my muffins being better than hers! I spend so much time keeping the painful memory of her being gone locked aeay, and so, all the others along with it. It is nice to empty the treasure box and aift through the gems…thanks lass.

    • janeybgood says:

      Aw, that’s lovely. Gosh, I felt rather emotional after reading that. I’m so glad you have such lovely memories with your mother. I’m sure it is difficult to confront the memories at times, but they are very special. People are never really gone as long as they live on in our memories.

  2. amandalyle1986 says:

    Aw, I enjoyed reading these beautiful poems as much as eating pizza (which is a lot, btw!) Thank you for sharing, my dear! I hope you had a great long weekend (Do you have the same bank holidays as us?…<- that was probably a silly question.) and a great week ahead of you! πŸ™‚

    • janeybgood says:

      I sure did! Yep, bank holidays are the best πŸ™‚ I’ve just been slumming it on the sofa all weekend haha. I hope you had a fun and restful weekend! With or without pizza. Now I just really want pizza πŸ˜€

      • cheergerm says:

        Oh, I agree, tears on the iPad or keyboard…a good cry is extremely therapeutic. WH Audens clocks poem is another one that always gets me weeping.

      • janeybgood says:

        But all the clocks in the city
        Began to whirr and chime:
        ‘O let not Time deceive you,
        You cannot conquer Time

        That one? I’m either very hormonal today or that is incredibly beautiful. *weeps*

      • cheergerm says:

        I meant the ‘stop all the clocks
        Cut off the telephone
        Prevent the dogs from barking’ etc
        When it gets to ‘you are my north , my South’ I am a blubbering mess. But that one is moving too…so many beautiful words hey Cupid? I think I am very weepy today as well….

      • janeybgood says:

        Funeral Blues. I had this manly burly student a few years back. The most masculine guy in the school. He played rugby. When we read this, he didn’t just tear up, he full on wept 😦 it was so lovely.
        It’s one of my favourites for sure. *dabs eyes with pizza*

  3. Wordifull Melanie says:

    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ They are both lovely. though the first really speaks to me. I love that it is based on a simple memory of a shared moment. All the best memories, I think, are of little things that stay with you.

  4. dweezer19 says:

    And you see what happens when I try to write using my phone! 😱 SO many typos. Kudos to you for doing actual blog posts from yours. You still do that?

    • janeybgood says:

      As much as I like some of Kavanagh’s poetry, he comes across as woefully cantankerous and arrogant at times. Ha, my teacher used to repeat certain phrases too πŸ˜€

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