Carrying the Songs Moya Cannon
Reading this book was like coming home. The subject range is very familiar – landscape, language, home, emigration, music. There are a good number of poems I wish I’d written – Carrying the Songs, First Poetry, To Colmcille Returning, and even one, Pollen, that I swear, I was just about to write. But it wouldn’t have been as good.
Moya Cannon is a more thoughtful poet than I am, more orderly, less fidgety and compressed. And there’s more personality – by which I don’t mean self-disclosure, but more of a persona, a sense of a fully engaged mind and heart, not just observing, but responding to her observations. Her poetry is more informal and irregular than mine:
Have I stooped so low as to lyricise about heather,
adjusting my love
to fit elegantly
within the terms of disinterested discourse?
whihch meant I had a hard time with the metre until I read it aloud, and then was won over completely.
A sense emerges throughout the book of an irrevocable change through a rational education and emphasis on abstract thought, of a loss of capacity for faith, which leaves us withdimished means to articulate the power of landscape, home, heritage and community exerts upon us. Moya Cannon’s poetry is a magnificent attempt to redress this. Landscape and sea dominate the book – hills, wells, nests, shells, and the survivals of bones, nuts and pollen. Migration, loss and persistence shape many poems, the movement of birds, of people, of songs, and of language. The loss of language is the loss of identity (Forgetting Tulips, Murdering the Language) or relationship(No Sense in Talking). But words are carried, transformed, persist and re-emerge in place-names,(Oughterard Lemons) in local idioms(Banny), and in loan-words to other languages(Augers).
There are small unassaible words
that diminish Caesars;
territories of the voice
that intimte across generations
how a secret was imparted –
that first articulation,
when a vowel was caught
between a strong and a tender consonant
when someone, in anguish
made a new and mortal sound
that lived until now
to waves succumbed to