Irish poet and author Brendan Kennelly – described by fellow writer Gabriel Fitzmaurice as a ‘poet of the people’ – passed away today. My fondest memory of Brendan was meeting him on the day of my graduation from Trinity College back in 2014. Less than an hour after the ceremony, my family and I encountered him on Nassau Street, where he spoke with us for a while on the subject of art and literature, and recited some of his beautiful poem “Begin.”
A gentle soul. A wonderful poet. A man of warmth, generosity and kindness. His work was well-known for its poignant, precise lyricism, and I’ve always been huge fan of his. Rest in peace, Brendan. 🙏
Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
∼ Brendan Kennelly