When all this is over
When all this is over
we’ll follow a path
through silver birch and pine
listen for the shepherd
whistling to her flock of pregnant ewes
look for grasses
herbs trampled under their hooves
catch the scent
of crushed chamomile lavender thyme
from the mossy mountainside
drink the river’s source
Jane Clarke, from All The Way Home, Smith|Doorstop 2019
My name is Jane Clarke and I am a poet originally from a farm in Fuerty, Co. Roscommon. My mother and I had the pleasure of meeting Sr. Agnes Curley at the Galway 2020 Opening Ceremony in March. When she learned that I had gone to secondary school in the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon she invited me to choose a poem for your magazine. I’m delighted to do so as I appreciate the education I was given there. Some of you may remember Sr. Mary Hynes, who stood out for me with her wisdom, good humour, interest in each of us and encouragement. My family were Church of Ireland so it was a departure from tradition to send their daughter to a convent school. However my mother insisted because she believed that was where I would get the best education and she was right. Irish schools are now richly diverse with students from all over the world and from every religion and none. Back in the 1970’s it was different; there was only one other member of the Church of Ireland in our school. But the school included us without a trace of discrimination and Sr. Mary Hynes kept a special eye out for us in keeping with her generous, open-minded spirit. She and my mother shared their delight when in sixth year I won an Irish scholarship to the Lester B. Pearson United World College on Vancouver Island, Canada. Subsequently I studied English and Philosophy at Trinity but it wasn’t till my early 40’s, when I took a creative writing class, that I fell in love with poetry.
I chose ‘When all this is over’ for your magazine in the hope that it will provide some solace through this crisis. It’s from my second publication, All the Way Home, an illustrated sequence of poems in response to a soldier's letters from the Front during World War 1. It was published by Smith|Doorstop in April 2019, in collaboration with the Mary Evans Picture Library, London.
My first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015. The River was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize, given for a distinguished work of fiction or non-fiction evoking the spirit of a place. My second full-length collection, When the Tree Falls, was published by Bloodaxe Books in September 2019 and is shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2020 and also for the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award 2020.