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.

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Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Poem reprinted with Mr. Heaney's permission.