De utslagna möter han alltid
på krogar. I ansikten
rinner tårar; i grogglasen
de ekande skratten,
i det upprörda innanhavet
han beställer "En stor stark!".
Always in pubs I meet them, the defeated,
With a long sweep of the face crying:
Ridiculous the idea that you have stated –
I lived ten years in that city, and you are lying
To say that houses with slate roofs exist,
With windows, wooden floors and rooms upstairs;
A dream, dear friend, there’s no bed gives such rest
As a straw bed evenly spread. There are no powers
Greater than this most ancient barnyard knows.
And you’ll come back, come back, come back –
They always do – in ten years or a score
And find this pig-sty for your pig’s broad back,
And in it all religion, literature, art –
I know, I know the secret of your heart.
Drink up, drink up, the troughs in Paris and
London are no better than your own,
Joyce learned that bitterly in a foreign land.
Don’t laugh, there is no answer to that one!
Outside this pig-sty life deteriorates,
Civilisation dwindles. We are the last preserve
Of Eden in a world of savage states.
With a touch more cunning and a touch more nerve You’d establish at the trough your own good place;
Meet all the finest sows if you would just
Not damn each hog you meet straight to his face;
They’re all your friends if you but knew. Please put
Your skyward-turned snout unto the ground
And nuts that Africa never knew you’ll find.
Remember Colum and his fair-green promise,
Young maidens’ laughter on a Midland lane,
A greater singer far than Dylan Thomas,
Phrase-maker innocent as April rain.
And see O’Casey lost in English Devon,
Who never wrote another line worth reading
Since he left St George’s Pocket in ’twenty-seven,
Weaving in vain an alien material.
The blue and rapturous phrase, the brave banner
Of a man’s own people shabby and torn,
Strained on the thorn of the English manner.
Lost is the man who thinks that he can scorn
His parish mother’s paps. The greatest sage
May not reject his people’s heritage.
Around you, don’t forget is genius which
Walks with feet rooted in the native soil.
Don’t sweep them from your path or say that such
Are merely drunken talkers without mind.
The poet’s task is not to solve the riddle
Of Man and God but buckleap on a door
And grab his screeching female by her middle
To the music of a melodion (preferably), roar
Against the Western waves of Connemara,
Up lads and thrash the beetles. This tradition
Is what the stranger comes to buy or borrow,
What you would leave to chase a worthless mission. Leave Christ and Christlike problems and you’ll be
The synthesis of Gaelic poetry.
I went away and thought of all the answers,
But there were none that killed his ghastly smile
Which said to me: life has no enchantment,
Art is no more than Sancho Panza’s Isle;
A phrase made up to crown a pint of beer,
A paragraph for a gossip columnist,
A group of idle men and women or
Anything temporary, sensationalist –
Shakespeare and Blake, where are they now, or Keats?
Drink up your drink, get yourself a job…
O God, I cried, these treats are not the treats
That Heaven offers in the Golden Cup.
And I heard the demon’s terrifying yell:
There is no place as perfect as our hell.