A Song at Imbolc


The ancient festival of Imbolc nears, and with it, all the promise and growing pains of new life. From the Irish i mbolg (in the belly), Imbolc is a time for hope, when we emerge from winter, full of hope for the potential of summer.


Moya Cannon is a prolific poet with six published collections, the first of four poets invited by Galway 2020 and Poetry Ireland to welcome each new season with a specially commissioned poem. Her ode to the season of sweetness and resilience takes on a pressing tone, with a call to nurture the earth in the spirit of Bridget. A cry for their future and celebration of their arrival, the poem will be gifted to every new baby born in Galway in February 2020.

A Song at Imbolc


Now at spring’s wakening, short days are lengthening

and after St. Bridget’s Day, I’ll raise my sail.


A blind man, on a stone bridge in Galway

or the road to Loughrea, felt the sun’s rays

in his bones again and praised the sycamore and oak,

crops still drowsy in the seed, wheat, flax and oats.

His song rising, he praised Achill’s eagle, Erne’s hawk

and in beloved Mayo, young lambs, kids, foals,

and little babies turning towards birth.


Blind Raftery invoked Bridget, Ceres of the North,

born into slavery at Faughart, near Dundalk

to an Irish chieftain and a foreign slave.

Why, of all small girls in so distant a century born

is she honoured, still, in place-names, constant wells,

new rushes plaited to protect hearth, home and herd?


Bridget, goddess, druidess of oak, or saint— a girl

who gifted her father’s sword to a beggar for bread,

we, who have wounded the engendering seas and earth,

beg you to teach us again, before it grows too late,

your neglected, painstaking arts of nurture and of care.


                                                            Moya Cannon

A Song at Imbolc by Moya Cannon was commissioned by Galway 2020 and Poetry Ireland.

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