Three Poems for Brigid: Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Paula Meehan and Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe

The trio of Irish poets celebrate St Brigid as triple goddess of poetry, healing and craftwork

A traditional St. Brigid’s Cross. Photograph: Declan Doherty

A traditional St. Brigid’s Cross. Photograph: Declan Doherty

 

To celebrate St Brigid’s Day, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Museum of Literature Ireland have collaborated on Three Poems for Brigid, a series of three short online films. Each showcases a poet and a spoken-word performer, and is based around one of the three aspects of Brigid as the triple goddess of poetry, healing and craftwork.

The poems were commissioned from three of Ireland’s finest women poets, spanning the creative generations: Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Paula Meehan and Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe. Artists performing the works include Osaro Azams, Ruth McCabe and Caitríona Ennis, with music by Syn, Dowry and Dreamcycles.

Through the poem and accompanying imagery, each film explores the theme as it relates to Irish women from past to present. The films aim to reach the widest audience possible, both local and international, and to engage Irish people around the world with living female Irish writers, performers and the feminine continuum that stretches through our history, is alive in our society, and is exemplified through both the pagan and Christian symbolism of Brigid.

The short films are available to view on the Department of Foreign Affairs YouTube channel.

Old Biddy Talk
By Paula Meehan

Have you no home to go to…


The young mostly on one another’s screens
– but these two rapt in each other
at the boundary wall: that genetic imperative,
the force that through the pandemic
drives their flowering, is my spring rain,
is my restorer from the deep delved wells,
hauled to the healing light of this world
pure water tasting of gemstone & iron,
quartzite & gold:
starlight & planets,
the sun & the comets, the moon herself,
she sacred to Brigit, mirrored in my bucket.
My own breath, old spirit, stirring in the cowled
reflection of the earth geologic, old seas,
old forests wherein once we swung from tree
to waterlogged tree become shale, become coal,
underground tributaries to rivers of oil -

breath lit fuel in their veins. They are fire –
vestal and flame. They are immortal.

At Bridget’s Well
By Doireann Ní Ghríofa

When rain fell on a path of stone,
one by one, we appeared alone.

Each of us wore a different face,
but we were all the same –

drawn by ache to lift green latches,
drawn by want to walk the dark

passage. Past paper stares, we knelt
and wept, we who fed the well in rivulets,

whose plunged wrists trembled
with vessels of blue violets.

We each spoke a spell of stone
and in her gloom heard prayers turn poems.

Ask her, Bríd, what will be
come of us?


Listen. Liquid, the syllables;
the echo, luminous.

i mbolc
an invocation

By Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe


guardian of the fawn
brightest of the flame
awaken us at dawn o
exalted! hear your name

come glinting in the hearth
kohl lashes lined with soot
steel flint omega arches
fleet mare so light of foot

milk flecked o’er the mouth
skin tight sweet lipped foam
suckled at the reddening
ears, corners of your cloak

glistening by a winch above
the veiled amnion of well
hold us, head neath water,
that we might breathe again

stay winter: light the torch
in dark where life is forged

in the belly; draw breath —
draw rein

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