Farewell. A poem by Jun Yan

after Sidney Keyes
This is the poem for my good friend Mr Dennis Murphy. He was my Chinese evening class student and my life mentor. He passed away three weeks ago, I could not attend the funeral because of covid19. I was standing outside of GMIT(the college which he worked for over 30 years) to farewell him. I was very sad for the first few days. In Chinese tradition, we should be very sad for the death. But I read a lot of books and poetry about the death, then I got to know the Mexican tradition about celebrating death. I think death is the beginning of eternity, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “And may there be no sadness of farewell”.


In the rainless afternoon
I am standing in the line
to see you off
I want to hold your hands
to say goodbye
I cannot reach out

I want to be in your eyes
see the sparks of your mind
I want to be in your ears
hear my confused English syllable

However, I cannot see you
However, I cannot drink with you
face to face
The chair you have taken is empty
I see a tender green leaf
standing on a tiny branch silently

An old notebook is written in Chinese
A can of freshly-made Guinness
Let your life sleep tight
in the grass of this world.
same as a stone
will not end

Death is a friend who cannot lie
It is the only friend
who does not change for our mood
I want to be like you
not knowing the fate
though work for it day and night
There are always unrestrained colours
in the vision

Spring is entirely on the tree
I look up at tomorrow’s news.

29 May 2020


Jun Yan, who is a native of China, moved to Ireland sixteen years ago. She is currently a Chinese teacher. She gets new inspiration from the peaceful landscape and the deep English language in Ireland. She loves to express love, sorrow, and freedom through poetry writing.

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