The following three poems are by Margaret O'Beirne...
‘Ireland in Schools’: Famine in poetry & song
The granite outcrop, still redolent of animals,
cold ikon now of valley life where
goats were milked, sheep shorn,
and spinning- wheels whirred in the white yard.
They came on horseback, cracking their whips,
drove our beasts to the pound- the lowing
heifer and her calf, the little black cow
of the frothy milk, the spavined donkey
wisps of animal hair caught
in the briars lift in the wind.
The curlew is silent.
All life has fled the valley,
the very rabbit-holes are derelict.
Summer has silenced the river.
No children play.
Those left pass like ghosts or
crowd the empty hearth
where fowl or ailing lamb once
stirred near the reddened sods.
Sorrow folds like an empty sack as
tears waste down death's cheek.
Night spreads a shroud.
Tap-tapping on wood in the old church-yard:
coffins for the rich still proud in death-
a hinged one for the poor goes to the pit.
The towns creep with the half-dead;
they kneel and wait
for doors to creak,
for keys in the lock,
for the rasp of a bolt,
for the sight of a loaf
or a bag of meal.
Boats crammed with grain rise
on the tide; bayonets prod the
night air loud with foreign laughter.
[see also Surplus Population 1]
[see also Surplus Population 2]