Orion in the winter sky

I hate the time change. I hate walking home in the dark, but I also hate that it’s light when I take the dog out, which means no Orion in the morning sky. The poet Moya Cannon talks about driving back from Cloghane in her poem “Night,” and seeing that constellation: “So I wasn’t ready / for the dreadful glamour of Orion / as he struck out over Barr dTri gCom / in his belt of stars.”

Dreadful glamour… That’s it exactly, what I feel when, walking in the bitter cold, I look up and see him hanging over me.

Here’s how the poem ends:

I got out twice,
leaned back against the car
and stared up at our windy, untidy loft
where old people had flung up old junk
they’d thought might come in handy,
ploughs, ladles, bears, lions, a clatter of heros,
a few heroines, a path for the white cow, a swan
and, low down, almost within reach,
Venus, completely unfazed by the frost.

Where to even start? First with her beautiful reminder that those constellations are gifts left us by our ancestors, illustrations of stories they cherished and wanted us to have.

And then, in her typical fashion, that ambiguous Love, “almost within reach,” and “unfazed by the frost,” also left to us by our ancestors, something pure and true to itself–again this idea of dreadful glamour–but not quite where we can get to it.

That, my friends, is a good poem–one that articulates something you’ve not quite been able to put into words and sends you off longing for something that can’t be articulated.

4 thoughts on “Orion in the winter sky

  1. LOVE Moya Cannon. Course of modern Irish poets I’m always always partial to Kavanagh. His Advent is one of the most beautiful poems out there.

    “Through a chink to wide there comes in no wonder”

    Cannon’s work is more pure and simple than the florid Kavanagh, but still one of the best examples of modern Irish poetry.

    This week my blog is shamelessly pimping the Welsh Poet R.S. Thomas.

    Sorry. Gaelic poetry is a sad hobby.

  2. No need to apologize for loving Gaelic poetry. I like Rita Ann Higgins, even though she’s not conventionally good. She’s kind of the rap musician of Irish poetry–what she lacks in grace and talent, she makes up for in writing poems that stick with you. And I love Nuala ni Dhomhnaill, but Cannon is my favorite.

  3. Great poem there, Aunt B. I love your blog; I never know what wonderful morsel I will find over here.

  4. Pingback: Hope « Tiny Cat Pants

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