Poetry On the Banks of the Dublin Canal
O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.
-“Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin” by Patrick Kavanagh
Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh was waiting where he said he would be: on the banks of the Grand Canal in Dublin. Sitting there, hat casually placed on the bench beside him, arms crossed and gazing into the water, deep in thought.
Ireland is proud of the deep impact her native sons have had on her. Many of Ireland’s writers have creepily described how they would like to be buried or commemorated: Jonathan Swift, W. B. Yeats, Kavanagh. And Ireland listened. Yeats is buried beneath Ben Bulben, Jonathan Swift is in the floor of St. Patrick’s cathedral, and Kavanagh is modestly remembered on a bench by the canal, a bench with an open seat, inviting passersby to stop and gaze at the water with him. This is the same spot Kavanagh credits with his birth as a poet, his rebirth as a person.
The metal bench seat is cold and wet, covered in fresh rain drops. I accept Kavanagh’s invitation and sit next to him for a moment, linking my arm in the crook of his stiff cold elbow, and imagine him cogitating on his next poem.
Poetry On the Banks of the Dublin Canal / Dublin Canal