Madge Herron: Irish Woman Poet

Madge Herron (1916  – 2002) was born in poverty in Donegal, acted in the Abbey Theatre and became something of a bag lady in North London, where she also became an active participant in the 60s and 70s poetry scene. She published very little, preferring to preform her poetry live. The North, Good Friday, and Ezra Pound was published in Pillars of the House, An Anthology of Verse by Irish Women (Ed. A.A Kelly, Wolfhound Press, Dublin 1987).

The North, Good Friday, and Ezra Pound

Listening to that blackguard
heap abuse upon the bonhams
has me drenched.
If He can see fit
to making a row the
like of that —
and they but a few days old,
what will happen
the day He sticks them?
From now on
it’s plush velvet for me
I refuse to settle for anything less.
I put it to him
and his reply was?
I could go and kiss his arse
but what brings you?
on this of all days,
Good Friday.
the ceiling low,
the house surrounded by soldiers,
and me entirely convinced
I am the mother of one,
I forget his name right now,
all morning.
I’ve been sending myself up.
I’m a great one for make-believe,
I was put out of heaven for it.
They said, you lack initiative
go and fetch us a million
Green Shield stamps
and we will give you
another chance.
It was a tremendous challenge.
When you are eighteen
you feel you can go anywhere.
At the same time,
you can go bloody no place.
I tallyho’d back on to earth
one Christmas Eve
coming in low
over the Urals.
That great slug of a beast
Yeats saw tiptoeing towards Bethlehem,
that was me.
Have you ever been to Russia
Mr. Pound?
In the Urals
there are these draught corridors,
they go in and out like melodeons,
the music they make
has a static effect on
the winds above.
You don’t get buffeted
neither are you sucked in.
I was thinking Mr. Pound:
a couple of hundred years from now
you will be a forest
night bellowing the bat to prayer.
Ever since I read
you had gone
and turned yourself into a tree
I had a feeling I ought
to go and stand next to you.
I was on my way to you with a looking glass
when the weather broke
and I had to turn back.
How come? ’Tis Sappho
who loved Atthis long ago
rocks your child to sleep?
That one never had a head for heights!
Call to her to come down
before she hurts herself.
Once, she was my neighbour,
she owned a black pig.
Oh! many a Sunday after mass,
I have stood and watched them copulate.
The immensity
of what has happened to you,
has you subdued.
The lullaby is all gone out of you.
What? No little song for me?
(little brown elf —
a song, a song?)
Go crack the bell black
dome of night!
Slip through and grab the moon,
furl her out.
Be quick about it.
Last time they threatened you
it was in Islamic,
now it’s the man
with the see-through mint.
Get up in the rafters
and hide yourself,
while I go and open the door.
It would never do
if one of them
was to take you
for an IRA man.
I have no way
of proving
you really are
Ezra Pound!


5 thoughts on “Madge Herron: Irish Woman Poet

  1. I remember Madge Herron on the streets of Kentish Town in the 1970’s with her dogs in shopping bags. She would recite poetry on the street for us. Happy times indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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