Padraig O’Tuama Poems

Posted By Communications on Jun 11, 2020 | 1 comment


Poems submitted by Ruth Lovelace.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


In response to the pandemic and racial discrimination, Ruth Lovelace submitted the following two poems by Padraig O’Tuama, poet, theologian, and popular speaker based in Belfast, Ireland.  O’Tuama was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization.


The Facts of Lifeby Pádraig Ó Tuama, from Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013)

That you were born
and you will die.

That you will sometimes love enough
and sometimes not.

That you will lie
if only to yourself.

That you will get tired.

That you will learn most from the situations
you did not choose.

That there will be some things that move you
more than you can say.

That you will live
that you must be loved.

That you will avoid questions most urgently in need of
your attention.

That you began as the fusion of a sperm and an egg
of two people who once were strangers
and may well still be.

That life isn’t fair.
That life is sometimes good
and sometimes better than good.

That life is often not so good.

That life is real
and if you can survive it, well,
survive it well
with love
and art
and meaning given
where meaning’s scarce.

That you will learn to live with regret.
That you will learn to live with respect.

That the structures that constrict you
may not be permanently constraining.

That you will probably be okay.

That you must accept change
before you die
but you will die anyway.

So you might as well live
and you might as well love.
You might as well love.
You might as well love.


The Pedagogy of Conflict” by Pádraig Ó Tuama, published in Sorry for your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013).

I

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

When I was a child
my parents said that sometimes,
lives are protected
by an undetected
light lie of
deception

When I was a child,
I learnt to lie.

Now, I am more than twenty five
and I’m alive
because I’ve lied
and I am lying still.

Sometimes,
it’s the only way of living.

II

When I was a child
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain
rules:

let your anger cool before you
blossom bruises on your brother’s shoulder;

always show your manners at the table;

always keep the rules and never question;

never mention certain things to certain people;

never doubt the reasons behind
legitimate aggression;

if you compromise or humanise
you must still even out the score;

and never open up the door.
Never open up the door.
Never, never, never open up the blasted door.

When I was a child,
I learnt that I could stay alive
by obeying certain rules.
Never open up the door.

III

When I was a child,
I learnt to count to five
one, two, three, four, five.
but these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count

one life
one life
one life
one life
one life

because each time
is the first time
that that life
has been taken.

Legitimate Target
has sixteen letters
and one
long
abominable
space
between
two
dehumanising
words.

1 Comment

  1. I just discovered Pádraig Ó Tuama this year. He hosted a podcast called Poetry Unbound. I loved listening to his voice as he read and gave some insights on works by other poets. If you like poetry and podcasts, this one is worth a listen.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.