In Memory of Bill Cole
As Dante when he entered Purgatory
Was greeted by Casella, and the song
Casella sang sweetened his memory
Of earthly love and music and their long
Afternoons of wine and poetry,
So I, when I heard that William Cole had gone
Among the shades, imagined him and me
Meeting in an earthly paradise
Where we’d never met on earth, in Co. Derry,
On the banks of the Moyola, and his voice
Rising to sing in an Irish tenor brogue
MacCormack might have envied, or James Joyce,
Or Moore in Avoca, by Avonmore and Beg,
River-rhyming, over-brimming, young
At heart again, and younger song by song—
For always Bill belonged in Tir na n-Og.*
*“Tir na n-Og” means “land of youth” in Irish
William Rossa Cole, author, co-author, or editor of over 80 books of poetry, humor, and children’s stories, passed away in August of 2000. He was the grandson of the Irish national hero, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.
Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Poem reprinted with Mr. Heaney's permission.
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