Poet at Work...

Latest version

(This poem is what I call 'working material', i.e I am not happy that I have reached a point where I am satisfied that I have worked it to its final version. You may be interested in re-visiting this page to see what changes occur)

To see what the writer Anthony Weir has achieved with the drafts of this poem, click here . And make sure you take the opportunity to explore the poetry, prose and artwork on his wonderful site!


I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't, for she told me so,
the night before Christmas Eve; so fair a fancy

few would weave in these years
, Hardy said,
and yes, I can accept an indulgent smile.
But then you did not see the frightened waxen face,
prefiguring the coffin easing down,

nor did you hear her certainty, nor were you there to see
the resignation in her tired eyes.
And I shrank from the hand that had combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her.

I am educated, rational, watched Armstrong on the moon,
but listen, I still need to tell you this:
my granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,

don't tell me that she didn't, for she told me so

URL:http://mourne.net/banshee.htm

(January 6th 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't, for

she told me so, fear in her face
the night before Christmas Eve;

so fair a fancy

few would weave in these years
, Hardy said,
and yes, I can accept an indulgent smile.
But then you did not see the frightened waxen face,
prefiguring the coffin easing down.

nor did you hear her certainty, nor were you there to see
the resignation in her tired eyes.
And I shrank from the hand that had combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her.

I am educated, rational,

watched Armstrong on the moon,
but listen, I still need to tell you this:
my granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,

don't tell me that she didn't,
for she told me so

 

(January 8th 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't, for

she told me so, fear in her face

fear in her face, she told me so
the night hours before Christmas Eve;

so fair a fancy few would weave

in these years, Hardy said,

but I shrank from the hand

that had combed my hair for nits,
and yes, I can accept an indulgent smile.
But then you did not see the frightened waxen face,
prefiguring the coffin easing down,

nor did you hear her certainty, nor were you there to see
the resignation in her tired eyes.
And I shrank from the hand that had combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her.


I am educated, rational,

watched Armstrong on the moon,
but listen, I still need to tell you this:
my granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,

don't tell me that she didn't,
for she told me so

 

 

(January 14th 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her waxen face, she told me so
hours before Christmas Eve;
so fair a fancy
few would weave in these years
,
Hardy said, but then
I found it easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
that combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her;
X
X
X
X
prefiguring the coffin easing down,

Educated, rational,
watched Armstrong on the moon,
I
but listen, I still need to tell you this:
my granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't,
for she told me so



(January 22nd 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her waxen face, she told me so
hours before Christmas Eve;
so fair a fancy
few would weave in these years
,
Hardy said, but then
I found it easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
that had combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her;
You've got a double crown,
she would always say
X...
X...
prefiguring the coffin easing down,

Educated, rational,
watched Armstrong on the moon,
X...
but listen, I still need to tell you this:
my granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't,
for she told me so



(January 25th 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her waxen face, she told me so
hours before Christmas Eve;
so fair a fancy few would weave in these years,
Hardy said, but then
I found it easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
had combed my hair for nits,
face pressed against the pinny that was her;
You've got a double crown,
she would always say, and hug me close and warm;
that night I withdrew,
foresaw her coffin easing down.

Educated, rational,
watched Armstrong on the moon,
I do not want to __ __ __ __ __ .
But listen, I still need you all to know
that granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
don't tell me that she didn't,
for she told me so



(January 27th 2001)

Time for a few comments on all this, I think.

Ever wished you'd never started something? I'm having some problems with this piece. I think they started around the time a rhyme slipped into the poem - the one linking the last lines of stanzas one and two. It wasn't really meant to happen - but I decided I liked it and I would continue the pattern throughout. Obviously this then places constraints on the wording at the end of each stanza, and that works backwards to influence the structure of the whole stanza. I was tempted to forget about rhyme, but decided that a little technical discipline was good for the soul and persisted. What has also crept in is a syllable count in the stanzas with the pattern 7-6-5-6!

I think another problem has been not being totally sure why I am writing the piece in the first place. The idea came to me in Christmas week, a time of year when my grandmother is particularly in my thoughts, for reasons which I hope the poem makes obvious. I have decided that what is going on is that I am trying to say that I regard myself as a rational, educated 3rd-millenium man who does not want to admit to a lingering strain of superstition rooted in my background. 'I don't believe in the existence of the banshee - but ....' is perhaps the best way to put it. My grandmother said she saw one - so who am I to say that she didn't? And if she did see one, can I insist that she must have imagined it? And if so, where does that leave MY memory of seeing her in her house six months after she died? (NO! No way am I going to get involved in writing a piece on that - I'm having enough trouble with this one!). Perhaps also I am suggesting that to accept the notion that there may be something believable in the notion of the banshee requires a much bigger leap than that made by the first man on the moon. I think I'm getting close to a final version now - although I'm still very uncertain about lines 11-17 (see below). By the way, comments are welcome! By the way (2) - I must admit that I'm not spending every waking hour on this - I'm returning to it sporadically.

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her pale face,
hours before Christmas Eve;

so fair a fancy few would
weave in these years
, Hardy
said, but for a child
so easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
had combed my hair for nits,
my head on her breast;
You've got a double crown,

she would murmur, hugging
me close and warm, but that
night I shrank away,
foresaw her coffin down

in the dark earth on the hill.
I may have watched Armstrong
make that giant leap
some thirty years ago,

but irrational or not
I need to tell you this;
she saw the banshee,
because she told me so.

(February 1st 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her pale face,
hours before Christmas Eve;

so fair a fancy few would
weave in these years
, Hardy
said, but for a child
so easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
had combed my hair for nits,
my head upon her breast;
You've got a double crown,

she'd murmur, hugging
me close and warm; but that
night I shrank away,
foresaw her coffin down

in the dark earth on the hill.
I may have watched Neil Armstrong
taking that small step
some thirty years ago,

but - irrational or not -
my granny saw the banshee;
don't tell me she didn't,
because she told me so.

(February 5th 2001)

I need to tell you this

My granny saw the
Bean Sidhe
the night before she died,
fear in her pale face,
hours before Christmas Eve;

so fair a fancy few would 5
weave in these years, Hardy
said, but for a child
so easy to believe.

And I shrank from the soft hand
had combed my hair for nits, 10
my head upon her breast,
You've got a double crown,

you'll cross the water
,
close and warm; but that cold
night I shrank away, 15
foresaw her coffin down

in the dark earth on the hill.
I may have watched Neil Armstrong
taking his small step
some thirty years ago, 20

but - irrational or not -
my granny saw the banshee;
don't tell me that she didn't,
because she told me so.

I think I'm just about there with this one! Anyone got any thoughts on it?

(February 23rd 2001)

Well ... still not happy with some of the lines between line 11 and line 17, but haven't yet had any sudden insight about what to do with them.... somehow, for example, the rhyme 'crown ... down' seems to get 'lost', possibly because of the caesura in line 14, which may focus the mind on the word 'warm' at the expense of 'crown'. So, more thinking to do ... perhaps a pint of Guinness may help ... :) Watch this space!

  • Bean Sidhe - pronounced 'banshee'
  • Traditionally, the Banshee appears shortly before a death in the family. The Banshee is almost always female; my grandmother called her 'a wee woman in white'.
  • pinny - pinafore/full length apron
To Enter
IRELingus:

choose...
Frames
or
No Frames