The moulting sunlight warm and mellow

Irwin really does paint with words – all the colours he uses in this poem which starts off talking off ‘grey noons’, blue water-flies, yellow sallows, red brick mansion… not to mention the suggested colours of teh autumn leaves, the ivieds orcahrd wall, grass, glassy cool, meadow pool, moulting sunlight, sandy beach – this would be such a wonderful sonnet to teach, so vivid!

Thomas Caulfield Irwin was born in Warrenpoint, County Down in 1823, and had a varied life; he died in Dublin in 1892. I shared this poem earlier in the summer, now we are moving into autumn it seems more fitting:


I walk of grey noons by the old canal
Where rain-drops patter on the autumn leaves,
Now watching from some ivied orchard wall
In slopes of stubble figures pile the sheaves;
Or under banks in shadow of their grass,
Blue water-flies by starts jettingly pass
‘Mid large leaves level on the glassy cool;
Or noiseless dizzy midges winking round
The yellow sallows of the meadow pool;
While into cloudy silence ebbs each sound,
And sifts the moulting sunlight warm and mellow
O’er sandy beach remote, or slumberous flood,
Or rooky, red brick mansion by the wood,
Mossed gate, or farmyard hay-stacks tanned and yellow.

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