The sky here
is as low as thatch.
Stone walls hug the earth
like old men’s prayers.
The sons are grown
and gone to Belfast.

Only the sheep
can survive on such beauty,
but their wool is
wronged terribly with dye,
like the hair of the daughters
who have gone to the cities
after men. This is done
so that a man may tell
his sheep from his neighbor’s.

The rage of
The Twelve Fierce Tribes
has seeped
back to the earth
through bone, and the sheep
are the colors of nightmares.

The young
learn the faces of lambs
and forget.


Julie Kane
from her book Body and Soul
(Pirogue Publishing, 1987)
used with permission of the poet
and with permission of Pirogue Press


For an English Classroom

Lesson Plan for Julie Kane’s “Connemara”
by Margaret Simon

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment. ~Carl Sandburg

What did Julie Kane see in Connemara, Ireland? She obviously looked beyond the landscape, the people, and the animals, and felt the sense of abandonment that the people living there felt. Have you ever visited a place that left you with a different feeling? Feelings in poetry are reflected by the tone of the poem. The tone is expressed through specific words. Look for the words of tone that Ms. Kane uses, such as seep, bone and nightmares.

Select a visual representation of the place you would like to write about, a drawing or a photograph. Using a word web, put the title of the place in the center and enter words that describe the landscape, the people, and the animals. Also, put in words that describe a certain tone. After you fill your word web, write a poem that not only describes the place but also creates a tone about the place.

Share your poem with a writing group. Do they get the feeling you were trying to convey? Ask for suggestions for words and phrases that would express the tone you wish to convey. Publish your poem using your original illustration.

For a Geography Classroom

Lesson Plan for Julie Kane’s “Connemara”
by Margaret Simon

“Narrative does not dictate the image; the image dictates the narrative.” Charles Wright

I had to look it up, but Connemara is an area in Ireland. The landscape is striking and worth a Google Image search. Julie Kane must’ve been struck by the landscape of Connemara on a visit there.

The tone touched me in this poem. In a study of geography, have your students research a chosen location. Describe the landscape. Describe the people. What is the most common occupation? What animals wander the landscape?

Have students visualize the place of their research. Select a group of words from your research. Reread Julie Kane’s poem about Connemara. Which words specifically set the tone for the poem? Find words that set a tone for the place you researched.

Write a poem of place. Use the place as the title. Describe the landscape, the people, and the animals. Set a tone in your poem.

Share your research and writing in a visual presentation. Use Moviemaker to import images, sound, and text.

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