The Healing Well of Poetry

I find myself, in these days when the world is all topsy-turvy, turning to poetry, both reading and writing.

Words from Yeats’ poem The White Birds have been running through my mind:

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a

       Danaan shore,

Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow

       Come near us no more.


And when hope is most needed, Seamus Heaney’s poem The Cure at Troy is always there:

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a farther shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles

And cures and healing wells.


On the hill above our house there is a healing well. Perhaps we’ll take a walk up there.

Here is what I’ve been writing:

Three Poems

Two Days Past St. Brigid’s Day

 I back against the ditch seeking

Shelter from the sudden squall.

Hail whitens my shoulders

Like an old woman’s shawl.


 A primrose hides in the brambles

Beside me, searching for the sun.

Together we watch the snow fall 

On Brandon Mountain across the way.


Micheál, who lives on the hill above us,

Says Brigid’s day marks the start of spring.

“But the primrose truly knows.

When she appears, the weather turns.”


The squall passes. I nod goodbye 

To my flowered friend

And walk down the lane 

To the shore and the sun.


The primrose knows.


Three Donkeys

 Three donkeys live down the lane

In the field beyond the trees.

They gather at the gate 

To pass their life of ease.


No trap to pull nor creel to carry,

Their working lives are done.

They nibble at the grass

And catch the warming sun.


We stop and nod and have a word

And share philosophies,

Then wander down the lane

Leading our life of ease.


On Buying a Portrait of Beckett

He glares at me across the room

Straining against the hard black frame.

The sacramental scent of artists’ oil surrounds him.


Cheeks and brow, nose and jutting jaw

And hair as wild as his thoughts

Are sculpted with a palette knife

In tones of black and grey.


Cold, calculating, captured.



He knows he is the genius.

His glare says all of that.

Ideas, in fuchsia and iris, explode around his head

Seeking an escape. 



He stares at me and I return his gaze.

 In silence we wait for the messenger.



May we all let our minds wander and find our healing wells.

6 thoughts on “The Healing Well of Poetry

  1. Oh, Jim, how lovely. I think we are all in that place of needing to take shelter and wait for the messenger. I hope you and yours and the extended Irish family-of-choice are all safe and well.

    Chris and Jorge


  2. Hi Sarah & Jim, I really liked your poems. So sad how the world is today. We hope for life to turn back to normal soon. I hope you enjoy your quiet walks. Greg and I go for our walks. One of the best parts of the day. Stay safe and take care. ❤️Marilyn & Greg


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