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Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí

Praise youth and it will prosper



A youngster’s smile climbed from the root

Of his being, a blossom so suddenly sprung,

Out of such clay one burgeoning offshoot.


I’d forgotten a friend’s father’s razor tongue

And how in turn he couldn’t praise his son.

A memory stinging again as it was stung.


Everything in him wanted to say ‘well done!

‘Good on you, my boy! That was flawless!’

No  fault to find but why was there always one


To hamper delight he so wanted to express?

For the one stunted tree, an unseen wood.

Too long a longing for his own father’s caress.


A friend’s son I’d praised in all likelihood

By chance, a small thing I happened to salute

But my words sank deeper than I’d understood.


Down silent wells of generations a chute

Of praise moistened years of childhoods unsung;

A shaft of sap pushing upwards to the fruit.




Sannarlegt lof er ekki um of

Real praise isn’t about excess


Nothing on islands of glaciers and volcanoes

Allows for flattery or soft-soaped excess.


No school of blurb and puff or false kudos,

Feel-good factor, success to easy success.


Over the windswept lava a sober tending,

A weighing up. And even so the overflow.


Geysers of warmth, Hekla’s cup sending

Again from middle-earth a molten glow,

A crimson boost of praise somehow starker

Against bleak landscapes, as the sudden delight



Of an old teacher brandishing a new marker

To underline in red everything that’s right.




Old praise dies unlesse you feede it.



An outlandish proverb Herbert knew,

Long fallen by the wayside;

Instead a hawk-eyed

‘Giving credit where credit is due’.


Tame worthiness. No splurge of belief

In an overflowing cup.

A root dies up.

A withered branch, a fallen leaf.


Flare and blaze. The first whirl-about

Of Solomon’s poured song,

But unoiled too long

A bridegroom’s lamp sputters out.


Teachers in whose inner light we’d grown,

A daily laid hand,

All flaws in sand,

Our wonders etched in red stone.


A mentor’s feeding words, a lover’s gaze,

Water’s lavish spill;

And are we still

Each other’s secretarie of praise?