Dr Niamh's Children's Books

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Niall O’Connor,

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you a special Irish poet that I am sure will become a regular visitor to Plum Tree Books. Niall O’ Connor is my kind of poet. He writes simply and beautifully using ordinary, everyday things as metaphors around which to weave his poetry magic. Thank you, Niall for gracing us with your presence. As Niall reminds us of the beauty of the rich, musical tones of Michael  Macliammoir’s oratory, I added Michael’s picture, as I had the great pleasure of meeting him many, many years ago in Dublin. 

Sheila Burrell and Michael Macliammoir in Scenes from "Abdication" Given at the Gaiety Theater

Sheila Burrell and Michael Macliammoir in Scenes from “Abdication” Given at the Gaiety Theater

By Niall O’ Connor

The sonorous voice of Micheal MacLiammoir on the black and white television transfixed me so that the adults went to bed and left me on my own. I was seven.

Before that again, I found sleep with the words of William Allingham

UP the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men

Words that that as well as bringing sleep, brought the light trip of fairy feet and the tinkling of mountain streams.

The marriage of sound and sense is what made me fall in love with poetry. The connection was further strengthened by the incantation of religious ceremony in Latin; repetition of words and sounds with no great knowledge of their import.

Then at school, the introduction to Yeats and Kavanagh, Robbie Burns and Shakespeare, and I decided I had to take part in this quest for the perfect poem.

The now fashionably unpopular words of Yeats, still ring in my ears and permeates my own writing.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

—W. B. Yeats, from The Lake Isle of Innisfree

When I had exhausted the Irish and English poets, I was drawn to more exotic shores. Books of poetry and short stories from ‘Old Europe’, from China, and from the countless forgotten writers of the nineteenth century that do not merit even a footnote in our histories of Literature. This cacophony of voices had one thing in common, and that was the use of words to convey emotion and meaning. Poetry is perfection in communication, and that is still the thing I strive to attain.

I finish with a quote attributed to T.S.Eliot: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood’, and a favourite of mine…a highly unfashionable love poem…but how far, and how well, has the wonderous echo of its sentiments travelled.”


How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

4 comments on “The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Niall O’Connor,

  1. what a beautifully written commentary on the love of words that we all share here – and one of my own favorites – perhaps the first poem i ever memorized – browning’s how do i love thee – many thanks for sharing your own perspective of poetry…and the quest for that perfect poem….


    • ontheplumtree
      December 11, 2013

      Thank you, Jenean for stopping by. I am sure that Niall will be delighted.


  2. Jamie Dedes
    December 11, 2013

    The beautiful story of a love affair and one with which we can all relate. Nicely done and much appreciated.


  3. thiskidreviewsbooks
    December 13, 2013

    I love old poetry! 🙂


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