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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ralph McInerny, Sonnet 71

My father, Ralph McInerny, died two years today, January 29, 2010. Below is his poem, Sonnet 71, from his collection, Shakespearean Variations (St. Augustine’s Press 2001), a series of poems in which he ingeniously takes the first line and end rhymes from each of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets and from there composes a wholly new sonnet.

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Nor dirges play nor toll the dismal bell,
For when in earth I’m laid at last to bed
My spirit will in a better country dwell,
Where then what is will be as if it’s not,
And what is not will be again. ‘Tis so,
For there is that which cannot be forgot
But rises out of reach of tearful woe.
Why would the poet seek to catch in verse
Our deeds if we were only drying clay
And did not in our lives by acts rehearse
A drama that resists mortal decay?
         Our going would elicit only moan
         If we were wholly gone when we are gone.


  1. Very cool! I didn't know your father but I have videos of his talks on Aquinas and have read several essays by him. I'd like to read more. Anyway, as someone who has also lost my father, I know how much you can miss them! Thanks for sharing his clever sonnet.

  2. Thank you, Faith, for your kind words. You'll find that there are plenty more of Ralph McInerny's works out there for you to read, in both philosophy and fiction.

  3. Thanks, Daniel. Thankfully,your father will never be "wholly gone" for countless many people thanks to his talent, passion and charity.

    We miss you and your family here in South Bend, and look forward to your next visit.

    God bless!

  4. Excellent re-writing! I was unaware of this additional series of gems within an already exceptional life's works. As having the wonderful privilege of taking the final course that your father taught at Notre Dame, I'm pleased to remember the memorial of the Angelic Doctor each year, while praying for him who advanced much scholarship and popular knowledge of his philosophical forebear. Requiescat in pace.

  5. This is a wonderful site as well as your new Patria story. And the Shakespeare variations are wonderful. I was fortunate to be present on a course that the great Thomist gave in Rome on the Preambules of Faith- an extraordinary set of presentations on a most important theme always delivered with precision and eloquence. Also I remember visiting with him in his former office at the Jacques Maritain center where he seemed the most kind, intelligent, and genuine of persons. His brilliance helpful advice and charity clearly lives on through his verses and other works.

  6. Thank you, Anonymous, for that moving remembrance of my father!

  7. I discovered your father's fiction books and am very much enjoying his Father Dowling series. It is refreshing to read a mystery book that adds a dimension of faith to each story.
    God bless you and your family. We know your Dad is with our Lord.

  8. Your father's writings are one of the reasons I am Catholic, and am now in formation for the priesthood. Thank you for sharing this.