I received this poem yesterday from Andy McGovern. Though we've never met, I have been in contact with Andy through recent years, not least because of his courageous journey with Motor Neurone Disease. He is the longest-living survivor of this condition in Ireland and, I suspect, further afield. A prolific writer, he uses modern and essential technology (a gift for him) to keep his words and message in circulation. We've arranged to meet at some stage before too long and I'll tell you more about him then. For now, I thought I'd share (with Andy's permission) the poem he sent me yesterday and his words of introduction. There's a hint of Seamus Heaney here and the message is solid. God Bless the work Andy!
Here is a link to just one story about Andy, featured in National Media
A word from Andy ....
The precious vision of my beloved father, a lone man in the meadow cutting with scythe is embedded in my memory.
I am now disabled with Motor Neurone Disease. I have lost the use of both my hands and arms. The relaying of this vision would be an impossible task without the use of modern technology. Thank you to the staff at the Central Remedial Clinic in Clontarf and the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association, who provided me with a computer and foot switch - the vital link needed to communicate and release those trapped memories to the outside world.
In 1938 I was a carefree five year old child, running in that meadow. Alert enough to thankfully capture the scene and hold it in my memory all through those 79 years. This poem is my own personal tribute to that now nearly forgotten era. My dearest wish would be to preserve that era’s memory for the future generations, so that they may treasure and appreciate it as much as I do.
Mowing with Scythe!
O precious ink, you flow at my heel,
You are my open window as memories reveal.
Time may have stilled the ghosts in my mind,
These vivid pictures I now leave behind.
Weights of memories press the switch down,
Many pages from the past turn around.
I will release this vision before my going,
A lone shadow of the great man mowing.
The scythe placed carefully on rafter high,
Secure in time as winter months go by.
Wedges and ring of iron bound together
Carefully supported by old worn leather.
With one Gallus up and another let down,
The dark shadow swings the blade around.
A swart of grass with scythe now kissed,
Not one single ‘traithnin’ ever missed.
O rich meadow soon pared to ground,
Such skill as scythe is swung around.
Rich leafy grass still standing tall,
A strong work-man does it all.
Chimes of bell fill mid summer’s earth,
Renewing vows taken at his birth.
With cap in hand he shows respect,
A bended knee and a genuflect.
Beads of satisfaction on his weary brow,
Crystal clear memories fill me now.
A time to stop and sharpen blade with care,
Whicka, whicka... In the summer air.
Scythe on shoulder now takes rest,
Swift movements (of scythe) stone know best.
Blade restored to razor sharp,
Ready to challenge another swart.
A welted hand reaches into the shade,
To taste the buttermilk and bread just made.
Viewing the meadow heaving on its side,
His heart enriched with simple pride.
A spit to his hand ignites the work he loves,
Corncrakes race to the Heavens above.
Man and nature happily sharing God's span,
As a bee hive yields it’s bounty to his eager hand.
An era now slips from our world so fast,
I try to preserve and make it last.
That shadowy figure always at my side,
You were my flesh, my blood, my heart’s pride.
In Twilight days with foot on switch,
I have released my yearning so bewitched.
The scythe to me is a thing of past
I'll do my mowing with this cast.
© Andy McGovern
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