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Katharine Tynan
(b. Jan. 21, 1861 - d. April 2, 1931)

Also Katharine Hinkson, or Hinkson-Tynan, was born at Whitehall dairy farm, Clondalkin, County Dublin. She was one of 12 children of Andrew Cullen Tynan and Elizabeth Reilly Tynan.
She attended the Dominican Convent of St Catherine of Siena, Drogheda for 6 years (to age 14) and considered a religious novitiate.
She suffered chronic eye ulcers in childhood and was myopic from then onwards.
Her first poem appeared in Graphic in 1878 and she subsequently contributed poems to Irish Monthly, Hibernia and Dublin University Review from 1880 to 1885.
She first met W. B. Yeats (‘all dreams and gentleness’) in June 1885, in connection with C. H. Oldham’s Dublin University Review.
Thus began a life-long correspondence with Yeats, who described her as ‘very plain’ though always affectionate towards her. He advised her in early correspondence to make a speciality of her Irish Catholicism.

Her first book, Louise de la Valliere and Other Poems, was heavily influenced by Christina Rossetti and called by Yeats ‘too full of English influence to be quite Irish’.
Her second volume, Shamrocks, contained exclusively Irish subject-matter.
Her suggestion to Yeats that he should try an Irish subject resulted in Wanderings of Oisin.
She lived in Ireland until her marriage to Henry Albert Hinkson in 1893. Hinkson was a barrister and novelist and contemporary of Yeats. The Hinksons moved to Ealing and NottingHill; later he became Mayo Magistrate from 1914 (he died five years later, in 1919).
In 1913, she wrote memoirs of the literary revival, Twenty-Five Years, which appeared with several dozen of Yeats’s early letters printed without permission or any opportunity for corrections!
In 1920, she sold Yeats’s letters to Quinn for £100.
She also wrote 100 novels, 12 collections of short stories, 3 plays, and anthologies, as well as innumerable articles on social questions such as poor children and women’s working conditions.
An oil portrait of her, done by John Butler Yeats in 1887 is in the Municipal Gallery, Dublin (we're told and we believe that is the image we include above; too bad it's so small and rough).
Anyone unfamiliar with her might well recognize "The Wind that Shakes the Barley". A well known song encompassing her poem as lyrics.

Sheep And Lambs
by Katharine Tynan

All in the April morning,
April airs were abroad;
The sheep with their little lambs
Pass'd me by on the road.

The sheep with their little lambs
Pass'd me by on the road;
All in an April evening
I thought on the Lamb of God.

The lambs were weary, and crying
With a weak human cry,
I thought on the Lamb of God
Going meekly to die.

Up in the blue, blue mountains
Dewy pastures are sweet:
Rest for the little bodies,
Rest for the little feet.

But for the Lamb of God
Up on the hill-top green,
Only a cross of shame
Two stark crosses between.

All in the April evening,
April airs were abroad;
I saw the sheep with their lambs,
And thought on the Lamb of God.

Reprinted from The Oxford Book of Verse. Ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900.
Photo Credit: Moonjazz

Flowers of Youth was extraordinarily popular. Copies were sold to aid the Red Cross. A thousand were distributed to bereaved mothers in the South of England and the Bishop of London used it several times in sermons.

Flowers of Youth
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

Lest Heaven be thronged with greybeards hoary.
God who made boys for His delight
Stoops in a day of grief and glory
And calls them in, in from the night.
When they come trooping from the war
Our skies have many a new young star ... Dear boys! they shall be young forever.
The son of God was once a boy.
they run and leap by a clear river
And of their mirth they have great joy.
God who made boys so clean and good
Smiles with the eyes of fatherhood.’

The Dead Coach
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

At night when sick folk wakeful lie,
I heard the dead coach passing by,
And heard it passing wild and fleet,
And knew my time was come not yet.
Click-clack, click-clack, the hoofs went past,
Who takes the dead coach travels fast,
On and away through the wild night,
The dead must rest ere morning light.
If one might follow on its track
The coach and horses, midnight black,
Within should sit a shape of doom
That beckons one and all to come.
God pity them to-night who wait
To hear the dead coach at their gate,
And him who hears, though sense be dim,
The mournful dead coach stop for him.
He shall go down with a still face,
And mount the steps and take his place,
The door be shut, the order said!
How fast the pace is with the dead!
Click-clack, click-clack, the hour is chill,
The dead coach climbs the distant hill.
Now, God, the Father of us all,
Wipe Thou the widow’s tears that fall!

by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

The door of Heaven is on the latch
  To-night, and many a one is fain
To go home for one's night's watch
  With his love again.
Oh, where the father and mother sit
  There's a drift of dead leaves at the door
Like pitter-patter of little feet
  That come no more.
Their thoughts are in the night and cold,
  Their tears are heavier than the clay,
But who is this at the threshold
  So young and gay?
They are come from the land o' the young,
  They have forgotten how to weep;
Words of comfort on the tongue,
  And a kiss to keep.
They sit down and they stay awhile,
  Kisses and comfort none shall lack;
At morn they steal forth with a smile
  And a long look back.

Turn O' The Year
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

This is the time when bit by bit
The days begin to lengthen sweet
And every minute gained is joy -
And love stirs in the heart of a boy.

This is the time the sun, of late
Content to lie abed till eight,
Lifts up betimes his sleepy head -
And love stirs in the heart of a maid.

This is the time we dock the night
Of a whole hour of candlelight;
When song of linnet and thrush is heard -
And love stirs in the heart of a bird.

This is the time when sword-blades green,
With gold and purple damascene,
Pierce the brown crocus-bed a-row -
And love stirs in a heart I know.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

There's music in my heart all day,
I hear it late and early,
It comes from fields are far away,
The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the uplands drenched with dew
The sky hangs soft and pearly,
An emerald world is listening to
The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the bluest mountain crest
The lark is singing rarely,
It rocks the singer into rest,
The wind that shakes the barley.

Oh, still through summers and through springs
It calls me late and early.
Come home, come home, come home, it sings,
The wind that shakes the barley.

Any Woman
by Katharine Tynan Hinkson

I am the pillars of the house;
The keystone of the arch am I.
Take me away, and roof and wall
Would fall to ruin me utterly.

I am the fire upon the hearth,
I am the light of the good sun,
I am the heat that warms the earth,
Which else were colder than a stone.

At me the children warm their hands;
I am their light of love alive.
Without me cold the hearthstone stands,
Nor could the precious children thrive.

I am the twist that holds together
The children in its sacred ring,
Their knot of love, from whose close tether
No lost child goes a-wandering.

I am the house from floor to roof,
I deck the walls, the board I spread;
I spin the curtains, warp and woof,
And shake the down to be their bed.

I am their wall against all danger,
Their door against the wind and snow,
Thou Whom a woman laid in a manger,
Take me not till the children grow!

Shamrock Song
O, the red rose may be fair,
And the lily statelier;
But my shamrock, one in three,
Takes the very heart of me!

Many a lover hath the rose
When june's musk-wind breathes and blows:
And in many a bower is heard
Her sweet praise from bee and bird.

Through the gold hours dreameth she,
In her warm heart passionately,
Her fair face hung languid-wise:
O, her breath of honey and spice!

Like a fair saint virginal
Stands your lily, silver and tall;
Over all the flowers that be
Is my shamrock dear to me.

Shines the lily like the sun,
Crystal-pure, a cold, sweet nun;
With her austere lip she sings
To her heart of heavenly things.

Gazeth through a night of June
To her sister-saint, the moon;
With the stars communeth long
Of the angels and their song.

But when summer died last year
Rose and lily died with her;
Shamrock stayeth every day,
Be the winds or gold or grey.

Irish hills, as grey as the dove,
Know the little plant I love;
Warm and fair it mantles them
Stretching down from throat to hem.

And it laughs o'er many a vale,
Sheltered safe from storm and gale;
Sky and sun and stars thereof
Love the gentle plant I love.

Soft it clothes the ruined floor
Of many an abbey, grey and hoar,
And the still home of the dead
With its green is carpeted.

Roses for an hour of love,
With the joy and pain thereof:
Stand my lilies white to see
All for prayer and purity.

These are white as the harvest moon,
Roses flush like the heart of June;
But my shamrock, brave and gay,
Glads the tired eyes every day.

O, the red rose shineth rare,
And the lily saintly fair;
But my shamrock, one in three,
Takes the inmost heart of me!

For more Poetry Click the Poetry Index.


Fri, Feb 24, 2017
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Pádraic Pearse, who played a prominent part in the 1916 rebellion, declared Ireland a Republic from the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin. He was executed, along with the other leaders, for his part in the Rising. But he was a gentle warrior at heart. These five stories show us that Pearse was a man of deep understanding with immense human awareness of the way of life of the average person. He analyses the sorrows and joys of the Irish people of his time, and writes of the tragedies of life and death from which they could never escape.
Review from Mercier Press
Click for Stories of P. Pearse.

Field Work
Seamus Heaney

After Bridget finished her recent article about After the Harvest (Putting out the Hare...) we were prompted to look for other references to Harvest Knots. We weren't too surprised to find a poem by Seamus Heaney from his book Field Work.

1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Amazon states this is out of stock. They still have used copies for almost nothing (except shipping - chuckle). If you would like a new edition, it was available at Powell's. We can't promise it's still there. Click here for Powell's 1000 Years.
Click here for used at Amazon.


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