Chuilleanáin, Eiléan Ní

Ireland, (b. 1942)


  1. When all this is over, said the swineherd,
  2. I mean to retire, where
  3. Nobody will have heard about my special skills
  4. And conversation is mainly about the weather.
  6. I intend to learn how to make coffee, as least as well
  7. As the Portuguese lay-sister in the kitchen
  8. And polish the brass fenders every day.
  9. I want to lie awake at night
  10. Listening to cream crawling to the top of the jug
  11. And the water lying soft in the cistern.
  13. I want to see an orchard where the trees grow in straight lines
  14. And the yellow fox finds shelter between the navy-blue trunks,
  15. Where it gets dark early in summer
  16. And the apple-blossom is allowed to wither on the bough.

© Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Acts and Monuments. Dublin, The Gallery Press, 1972.

The Pig-boy

  1. It was his bag of tricks she wanted, surely not him:
  2. The pipkin that sat on the flame, its emissions
  3. Transporting her so she skipped from kitchen to kitchen
  4. Sampling licks of food; she knew who had bacon
  5. And who had porridge and tea. And she needed
  6. The swoop of light from his torch
  7. That wavered as she walked,
  8. Booted, through the evening fair,
  9. Catching the green flash of sheeps’ eyes,
  10. The glow of false teeth in the skull:
  12. Its grotto light stroked oxters of arches,
  13. Bridges, lintels, probed cobbles of tunnels
  14. Where the world shook itself inside out like a knitted sleeve:
  15. Light on the frozen mesh, the fishbone curve, the threads
  16. And weights.
  17. And as day
  18. Glittered on the skin, she stood
  19. In the hood of a nostril and saw
  20. The ocean gleam of his eye.

© Eilean Ni Chuilleanin. An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry, Wes Davis, editor. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2010).

About the Poet

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (b. 1942), is an Irish poet, a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and was founder and editor, with Leland Bardwell and Pearse Hutchinson, of Cyphers, one of Ireland’s longest established literary magazines.

Educated in Cork and Oxford, she has published six collections of poetry and is a member of Aosdána, an affiliation of creative artists in Ireland. [DES-6/03]

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