"Everything is going to the all right" - Derek Mahon

I mentioned the continuing presence of swallows and house martins in the blog last Friday, and there are still plenty about these few days later.  On Sunday afternoon, between showers, we took a walk to the pier head and along the front, and near the new development; and, where stones and rocks were thrown up onto the road at the end of last week at a stormy high-tide, half a dozen house martins were flying low and dodging around the cars.  They were skimming the ground and only missing walkers by what seemed like inches.  

I was referring on Sunday in a sermon to the death of the Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon last Friday, quoting his much-read poem, Everything is going to be all right.  It captures the sense of our mortality and yet also our need to look around us and enjoy the beauty with which we are surrounded.  It is easy to miss things when we are distracted, but occasionally, as with the near-misses of the house martins on Sunday, we have no choice but to open our eyes and see.  I was asked to print Derek Mahon’s poem in Church Alive! and I will, but here it is for those who would like it now:


How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.


It may be found in the collection entitled Being Alive published by Bloodaxe Books in 2004, edited by Neil Astley, p.351.


John Mann