Happy Birthday Andrew Motion

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UK poet laureate from 1999 to 2009, following in the footsteps of Ted Hughes (husband of Sylvia Plath).  The top choice for that gig was Seamus Heaney, but the Irishman ruled himself out.

Born Oct 26th 1952 Motion had the good fortune to study under W.H Auden in Oxford and to have Philip Larkin as a colleague at Hull.  He followed Malcom Bradbury as professor of creative writing in University of East Anglia.  Now esconced at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA.  A brilliant poet from a stable of brilliant poets.

Andrew Motion shares a birthday with Dublin Poet Trevor Joyce, but we’ll give this page to Andrew on the day England defeated the All Blacks in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi-Final in Yokohama.

Diving; by Andrew Motion

The moment I tire
of difficult sand-grains
and giddy pebbles,
I roll with the punch
of a shrivelling wave
and am cosmonaut
out past the fringe
of a basalt ledge
in a moony sea-hall
spun beyond blue.
Faint but definite
heat of the universe

flutters my skin;
quick fish apply
as something to love,
what with their heads
of gong-dented gold;
plankton I push

an easy way through
would be dust or dew
in the world behind
if that mattered at all,
which is no longer true,
with its faces and cries.

Superlatives

Stockdale

Jacob Stockdale scores the games only try, closely supported by Josh Van Der Flier

In the years to come I want to come back to this moment.  The second Irish defeat of the All Blacks, and the first on home soil.

A game of superlatives.  Two teams who left every inch of energy and commitment on the park.  A clash of giants, an epic battle, the stuff of legend.  If all that sounds too much, it is not.  In fact it will be very difficult in the years to come to express to people just how important his match was.

The Haka had a different character.  This intimidating tribal challenge and statement of intent was never expressed with greater intensity.  And yet, for the first time Ireland stood toe to toe with the All Blacks on equal terms.

As we begin preparation for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 this was a unique fixture.  The number 1 in the antipodes against the number 1 Northern Hemisphere team.  Ireland V New Zealand.  In the end the only difference between the sides was the try by Jacob Stockdale and the Sexton conversion.

Despite the loss New Zealand retain their number 1 position in world rankings.

Final score Ireland 16 – 9 New Zealand.

Man of the Match:  Peter O’Mahony

Kapa o pango

Let me become one with the land
This is our land that rumbles
And it’s my time! It’s my moment!
This defines us as the All Blacks
It’s my time! It’s my moment!
Our dominance
Our supremacy will triumph
And will be placed on high
Silver fern!
All Blacks!
Silver fern!
All Blacks!
Hi Ya!

Peter

Haka

Make Ireland Gr8at Again

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I want to save this iconic photo for my own memories.  This is how Ireland prepared to receive the Haka from New Zealand in Soldiers Field, Chicago on Nov 5th 2016.  In a tribute to Anthony Foley the Ireland and Munster stalwart who died on Oct 16th 2016, the Irish squad lined out to form the Number of Foley’s jersey.

Ireland broke a 111 year old duck to win the game 40 to 29.

Tomorrow we play the All Blacks again in Dublin.  A second win would be legend!

 

 

 

The Haka

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Poetry appears in the funniest places.  Today the All Blacks (the New Zealand Rugby Union International Team) played, and beat Scotland in Murrayfield.  Before each game the All Blacks perform a Maori ritual battle challenge commonly called the ‘Haka’.

There are many Hakas and the one performed by the All Blacks is more properly called the ‘Ka Mate’.  In the sporting world there is no more frightening display of aggression, physicality and sheer danger.  The Haka is intended to make the enemy quail in fright and run before battle even begins.  It works.  Many teams have psychologically lost the game before the first ball is kicked.  For every team in the world the All Blacks are the team to beat.  Scotland have never beaten them, nor have Ireland, although the province of Munster can proudly boast of a win against the giants of Rugby.

The words of the Ka Mate sound less threatening in translation, but on the pitch you don’t hear the translation.  You get the full Maori version, complete with thigh slapping, chest banging and tongue sticking.  The form of the Haka has varied over time, and each All Black captain has the option to put his own mark on the display.

Here is a very special version, with a Munster team fielding four All Blacks who gave as good as they got from the team.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13fGHSqHTwA

The text of the Ka Mate celebrates the survival of one Maori chief who was hidden in a pit by a friendly neighboring chief during a tribal war, and rose again to see off his enemies. Here is the original Maori text of the poem, and a translation.

Ka mate, ka mate
Ka ora’ Ka ora
Ka mate, ka mate
Ka ora Ka ora
Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru
Nāna i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā
A Upane! Ka Upane
A Upane Kaupane
Whiti te rā

I die, I die,
I live, I live
I die, I die,
I live, I live
This is the hairy man
Who caused the sun to shine again for me
Up the ladder, Up the ladder
Up to the top
The sun shines
Rise