Monday, March 20, 2006

St Patricks day was on Friday, and I wrote a piece then which I couldn't post until now. I have been unable to get online since Friday due to a drinking session.

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ST PATRICKS DAY - A BIT LATE

It's 6.50pm on St Patrick's day and I am at Posey Flame HQ here in my office at the blather academy internet cafe, scoring a noised call for those readers wishing to join the craic party at the front line of love. There are numerous high spirited mobs accoutred in novelty Oirish attire, the common denominator of apparel being an oversized fluffy top hat of Guinness, green and gold.

Many individuals have also opted for comedy cut away bum shorts revealing plastic buttocks with the legend pougue mahone written on them. This translates as Kiss my arse, one of the many national catchphrases, along with get fecked, and feck off yer stupid sock cooking mother feckin comtin twot. The usual reply to such pleasantries is Thanks a million, and the overall impression today in this land of a thousand welcomes, is one of a wave of Christmas trees disporting along the streets in a riot of boozed up bonhomie.

Lots of folk have tricolours and shamrocks emblazoned on their painted faces and are joyfully sounding in drunken release, whoops, whoohaas and whehaays to puncture the darkening sky of a cold March evening. Insulated in beer coats and goggles unbridled humanity is being celebrated in Dublin’s heartland, where saints and sinners commingle as one amaphorous mass bedecked in a glittering fantasy to wallow in the carnival of total Irishness.

As I traversed the crowded laneways towards this public hermit open access area where concentration occasionally becomes contemplation, I encountered several drunken Americans standing staggered on the pavement outside the Lord Edward Pub at Christchirch hailing all passsers by with the greeting Happy At Patricks day, in a register one associates with declarations of world peace. The world and his dog has descended on Dublin to partake of the real thing and many will return to their abodes across the sea bearing self-congratulatory meins which say

Yes, I too was Irish for a time.

The history of Gaelic Ireland is vast and until recently was pretty inaccessible to the layman, but behind the didlee dee waffle me wotnots, many who come here seldom see beyond, the heart of a poetic nation ticks its timeless tune. When the thrill seekers have left party central and returned to their normal lives, the full time residents will carry on living in this sophisticated place of many layers, where instinct and sense lead life in a way which can only be described as natural.

Once the reality of the past is unshackled from cliché and falshood, the indefinable factor X of Ireland can be stripped back to lay bare its logical and understandable components, and the hocus pocus dissolves to leave an impression of a truly unique and vibrant land, if somewhat predisposed to fantasy and exageration.


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This is a poem I wrote two years ago, just before I left England to come and live here.

I had been at writing school for three years and 40% of my time had been taken up by the extra-curricular study of Irish history, from the Invasion myths which list the various waves of invaders who first came during the time of the Fir Bolg race, right through to contemporary times. As I came to the end of my study and realised I was only good for poetry, I realised I had two choices. Stay in England and write poetry as a plastic paddy banging on about some place I only knew through books, or come here and see how the writing panned out. Two years later I'm still here, and this was one of the last poems I wrote before I left the UK.


SIDHING

The wish of the will of the whispering dead
the fill of the lake on the black cloud ahead
the call of the wild and the crash of the dawn
belong to the memory of some terrible storm
that once raged at the living out of all sense
and takes our beginning to a place of no rest.
And so we begin

Long days gone and long days more will
pass over the West and bring talk of a sky
where the eagle above washes its wings by
the wind of the Sidhe on all souls night. And
every night and day when he drew breath a
man who lived by a blue running brook on
Achill gave chase to the thoughts when his
blood ran hot in days long since slipped
into memory.

And his mother wanted only bread and a
small portion of meager fare from the
ground her father ploughed with bare
hands and feet hardened on the western
rocks of an unforgiving landscape.

Here the wind took seven years of a man's
life and the calm sun of a long summer
added seven more. Here the wild sweep of
chattering folk told tales spoken of since -
long before the first memory set in ogham
the words of a poet cut into stone and bark.

Where a language whispered by hands
needed only a keen mind and a tribe druid
to teach how to mirror trees.

But those days disappeared in the slow burn
before a final sharp flame of the dying
culture snuffed out and sailed to the four
corners of earth to take root elsewhere.
and the roots intertwined and grew strong
from the hard times remembered now in
the folktales and anecdotes told by older
members of the tribe.

A Phoenix rising in a mist swells of
tears is our character mirroring that west
of eternal change and numerous weather.
It tells how the collective souls who
lived and died in the centuries of a
presence there live on in the thoughts
that we harbour but don't know why.

Two thousand years in the same tongue
raises few questions and ties the bind our
nation shares, but when the other tongue
took over and the people dispersed the
bonds were such a strength that mere
words were only surface and what lay
behind was a structure of thought laid on
a prehistoric foundation of kith, kin and
blood found in aboriginal places
elsewhere.

Far away in time, some say, a common
stock existed in prehistory at Le Taine
before the big move West when Rome
held Europe in an imperial grip.

And as the other Celts became
subdued, our corner held fast to run a
course untouched by Caesar's penal
law, to keep an ancient European order
buried under Rome; one which carried
on its own way until Cromwell struck his
curse and began to extinguish the Gaelic
way of life.

But still we lingered on and kept our pride
until a dying ember's final comedy of error
repossessed a nation for those whose hope
was buried deep as the forgotten tongue of
druids.

Notes:


Sidhe -- The Sidhe pronounced 'shee' are considered
to be a distinct race, quite separate from human. Sidhe literally means 'people of the (faery) hills'. In mythology they were originally the Tuatha De Dannan, who were the penultimate race displaced by the Milesians.

Ogham -- ancient Irish/Celtic writing system, complete with numerous images and illustrations.

2 comments:

THE SCRIBE said...

Do you have to be Irish to write Irish Poetry?

IRISH POETS said...

I don't really know, is the honest answer. In these days of swimming in a sea of media, the tendancy is to see life in black and white certainties. Goodies and baddies simply packaged, and so to this type of question many writers would find it tempting to have a view one way or the other.

I don't think you have to be Irish to write Irish poetry, just to have lived here long enough to become aware of the culture and how it works. Same as if I went to LA and plugged into the Beach Boys vibe and the musical heritage of the West Coast and them started making music that was recognisably of that area.

I am available for visits to LA, so if there's any work going on the waffle, drop us a line.

Sincerely

Desmond