Father and Son

Father and Son by F.R. Higgins is an emotive poem by F.R. Higgins. It is a tribute by Higgins to his father after he had died.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems

The poem is very popular in Ireland and beyond, and is often used as a reading at funerals.

Scroll down the page to listen to Pierce Brosnan reading Father and Son.

In Memory of my Mother by Patrick Kavanagh. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Father and Son

Only last week, walking the hushed fields
Of our most lovely Meath, now thinned by November,
I came to where the road from Laracor leads
To the Boyne river–that seems more lake than river,
Stretched in uneasy light and stript of reeds.

And walking longside an old weir
Of my people’s, where nothing stirs–only the shadowed
Leaden flight of a heron up the lean air–
I went unmanly with grief, knowing how my father,
Happy though captive in years, walked last with me there.

Yes, happy in Meath with me for a day
He walked, taking stock of herds hid in their own breathing;
And naming colts, gusty as wind, once steered by his hand,
Lightnings winked in the eyes that were half shy in greeting
Old friends–the wild blades, when he gallivanted the land.

For that proud, wayward man now my heart breaks–
Breaks for that man whose mind was a secret eyrie,
Whose kind hand was sole signet of his race,
Who curbed me, scorned my green ways, yet increasingly loved me
Till Death drew its grey blind down his face.

And yet I am pleased that even my reckless ways
Are living shades of his rich calms and passions–
Witnesses for him and for those faint namesakes
With whom now he is one, under yew branches,
Yes, one in a graven silence no bird breaks.

Father and Son by F.R. Higgins. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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