Nessa by Paul Durcan (Poem & Summary)
February 22, 2018
Nessa by Paul Durcan
On the way back I fell in the field
And she fell down beside me.
I'd have lain in the grass with her all my life
She was a whirlpool, she was a whirlpool,
And I very nearly drowned.
Oh Nessa my dear, Nessa my dear,
Will you stay with me on the rocks?
Will you come for me into the Irish Sea
And for me let your red hair down?
And then we will ride into Dublin City
In a taxi-cab wrapped-up in dust.
Oh you are a whirlpool, you are a whirlpool,
And I am very nearly drowned.
Further Reading: Paul Durcan - Nessa Part Two
In this poem, Durcan develops the themes of love, falling in love, and developing a relationship, themes he portrays through the image of falling into a whirlpool via direct speech and other realistic, familiar images.
Reading ‘Nessa’, we learn quickly that the speaker and his lover developed instant chemistry when they first met, the speaker’s mention of a hotel painting a real-life common image. Subsequently, the image of hopping ‘into the Irish Sea’ seems accessible: those of us who don’t jump off ‘the Forty Foot’ on Christmas Day read about doing so in the media or see others doing it on TV; the image is appealing andcomfortably close to home.
Soon after, we learn that their relationship evolves, and the speaker goes from meeting this woman to wanting to spend the rest of his life with her. The poet’s use of direct speech and his repeated mention of her name ensure this poem is intense
in a manner that resonates with the experience of being head over heels in love.
The speaker’s questions also add a persuasive element to this intensity. The image of him inviting her to go with him and let her hair down (i.e. unveil her innermost feelings) appears so unreserved and honest; it exposes the very human experience of delving deeper into a serious relationship.