Eamon Grennan is an Irish poet born in Dublin. He has lived in the United States, except for brief periods, since 1964. He was the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. Professor of English at Vassar College until his retirement in 2004.
Though his Irish roots are clear in his poetry, Grennan has an international sense of literary tradition. He has cited as influences American poets including Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop (herself an international poet with ties to the U.S., Canada, and Brazil). In addition to writing poetry, he has translated Giacomo Leopardi and—with his wife, Vassar classicist Rachel Kitzinger—Sophocles's Oedipus at Colonus.
Grennan studied at University College,... more »
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Eamon Grennan Poems
At her Junior High School graduation, she sings alone in front of the lot of us--
I am watching Cleo listening, our cat listening to Mozart's Magic Flute. What can she be hearing? What can the air carry into her ears like that,
On A Cape May Warbler Who Flew Against M...
She's stopped in her southern tracks Brought haply to this hard knock When she shoots from the tall spruce And snaps her neck on the glass.
Through an accidental crack in the curtain I can see the eight o'clock light change from charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things
Looking for distinctive stones, I found the dead otter rotting by the tideline, and carried all day the scent of this savage valediction. That headlong high sound the oystercatcher makes came echoing through the rocky cove
The Cave Painters
Holding only a handful of rushlight they pressed deeper into the dark, at a crouch until the great rock chamber flowered around them and they stood
Untitled: Back They Sputter
Back they sputter like the fires of love, the bees to their broken home Which they're putting together again for dear life, knowing nothing Of the heart beating under their floorboards, besieged here, seeking A life of its own. All day their brisk shadows zigzag and flicker
The whole chorus saying only one thing: look at what goes, where we stand in the midst of it: Golden eyes of the beginning, deep patience of the end. Stone-deaf, the rocks in silence
Scattered through the ragtaggle underbrush starting to show green shoots lie the dark remains of rail sleepers napping now beside the rusted-out wreck of a Chevy that was once sky-blue and now is nothing but shattered panels and anonymous bits of engine in the ditch by a path that was once a railway line
All Souls' over, the roast seeds eaten, I set on a backporch post our sculpted pumpkin under the weather, warm still for November. Night and day it gapes in at us
Watching it closely, respecting its mystery, is the note you've pinned above this heavy Dutch table that takes the light weight of what you work at, coaxing the seen and any mystery it might secrete
Comments about Eamon Grennan
At her Junior High School graduation,
she sings alone
in front of the lot of us--
her voice soprano, surprising,
almost a woman's. It is
the Our Father in French,
the new language
making her strange, out there,
fully fledged and
ready for anything. Sitting
together -- her separated
mother and father -- we can
hear the racket of traffic
shaking the main streets
of Jersey City as she sings
Deliver us from evil,
and I wonder can she see me
in the dark here, years
from belief, on the edge
of tears. It doesn't matter. ...