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At Glendalough

  • 10 August 2022

Three poems by John Kelly

At Glendalough

Walk with me a while now

as an up-and-ready sun bids

the blinking world: “Good day!”

in this hallowed place

where two lakes meet,

and Kevin prayed

and studied in his cave;

and where water, wind and light

conspire to cast a faery gossamer

on tree and grass and stream;

and faith-affirming voices

of kinfolk long departed

can be heard among the leaves,

sharing their tales of a time

before walkman, mobile phone

and ghetto blaster could intrude

on God’s and nature’s music. . .


(Luke 2: 22-38)

Watching and waiting,

now near-exhausted

by weight and passage

of long years’ anticipating,

you, Simeon and Anna,

arrive yet once again

to keep vigil, drawn

by the covenanted centuries

of God’s promise. . .

Today your patient prayer

receives surprise reward:

new parents, Joseph and Mary,

arrive to dedicate

their stable-born new child

to God, and all God’s people,

setting alight your ancient eyes

and hearts in gratitude and praise,

in hope renewed

from faith-enabled sight. . .


She on his arm, he on his walking stick,

eyes set on home, they make a brace

as they have done for nearly sixty years

against the stiffening headwinds

that sweep an irresistible retreat

of autumn’s gold-brown leaves

along their now almost unknown street. . .

  John Kelly is an Adelaide teacher whose third collection of poems A Schoolbag Full was released in 2021.