Poem introduction

I like to write about dreams and always have. This poem is called 'Dream of a Black Fox'.

Dream of a Black Fox

Dream of a Black Fox

The black fox loped out of the hills
And circled for several hours,
Eyes bright with menace, teeth
White in the light, tail dragging the ground.
The woman in my arms cringed with fear,
Collapsed crying, her head hurting my neck.
She became dumb fear.

The black fox, big as a pony,
Circled and circled,
Whimsical executioner,
Torment dripping like saliva from its jaws
Too afraid to show my fear,
I watched it as it circled;
Then it leaped across me
Its great black body breaking the air,
Landing on a wall above my head.

Turning then, it looked at me.

And I saw it was magnificent,
Ruling the darkness, lord of its element,
Scorning all who are afraid,
Seeming even to smile
At human pettiness and fear.

The woman in my arms looked up
At this lord of darkness
And as quickly hid her head again.
Then the fox turned and was gone
Leaving us with fear
And safety -
Every usual illusion.

Quiet now, no longer trembling,
She lay in my arms,
Still as a sleeping child.

I knew I had seen fear,
Fear dispelled by what makes fear
A part of pure creation.
It might have taught me
Mastery of myself,
Dominion over death,
But was content to leap
With ease and majesty
Across the valleys and the hills of sleep.

from A Time for Voices: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (Bloodaxe, 1990), copyright © Brendan Kennelly 1990, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

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1The Adventure of Learning

2Getting Up Early

3The Singing Girl Is Easy in Her Skill

4Sing and Be Damned To It


6Living Ghosts

7The Happy Grass


9Saint Brigid's Prayer

10Saint Augustine on God

11Children's Hospital

12Citizens of the Night

13The Horse's Head

14The Stones


16Poem from a Three Year Old

17The Visitor


19The Swimmer


21Dream of a Black Fox

22The Scarf





27The Sandwoman


29We Are Living

30The Moment of Letlive

31The Habit of Redemption

32A Restoration

33She Sees Her Own Distance

34More Dust

35The Fire is Crying

36A Half-Finished Garden

37Her Face

38A Giving

39Let It Go


41The Speech of Trees



44The Third Force

45I See You Dancing, Father

46A Glimpse of Starlings

47Clearing a Space


Books by Brendan Kennelly