Proinnsias

Proinnsias

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ard Hessly

This song came to me in a dream, described in my Dream Diary. It refers to a historic event, where an enthusiastic priest, in Cromwell's time, raised a rabble army and marched them foolishly into a valley of death. However, the name "Ard Hessly" was a concoction of the dream and not the name of a real place. It can be sung to the air of "Only our rivers run free."

Welcome, men, to Ard Hessly,
Whose priests, holy men of the cloth,
Will lift your faith to a frenzy,
And all for the glory of God.

For the glory of God and  for Ireland,
They'll raise your spirits so high,
You'll arm with poor home-made weapons,
And march into battle to die.

You  will join the priests' rabble army
And march down the valley to death,
Entrapped by Cromwell's grim army,
Which will encircle you in its net.

The net will close in around you,
Leaving no route of escape.
They'll slaughter you with sharp weapons,
And then all your women will rape.

Woe to the priests of Ard Hessly,
Who've wasted the best of our men,
Who could have learned war in the mountains,
And then fought for Ireland again,

And again.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Some thirty lads

There were some thirty lads inspired
With a great and good desire
To set the world on fire
And restore the human soul.

They would fly across the oceans
With great and noble notions
To spread faith and devotion
              To folk on foreign shore.

They would humbly show great patience
And rise to the highest station
To steer the Irish nation
              To the realm of gold.

In lay and medical sciences
They would be triumphant
The great way forward pointing
              To a world of more and more.

They would represent the nation
On foreign land and station
Steering good investment
              Onto Ireland’s shore.

And, as for mathematics,
The world they soon would dazzle
Expounding mighty axioms
              Understood by few.

Now these thirty blokes are beaten:
Their highest goal is eating,
Or, with walking sticks so feebly,
              To hobble round the zoo.


While a response to a poetry spate set off by a class-mate of the 1961 OCS Leaving Cert class, in response to a proposal for a class trip to Dublin Zoo, led by a member who recently "had a hip done," this poem came to me in a dream, on my 75th birthday.
In my dream, Saint Malachy, a self-flagellant and fanatic reformer, now back from Rome and officially the Pope’s Nuncio, is resolved, despite being old and hoary (he is seventy five), to stamp out clerical flamboyance and self-indulgence. He will promote chastity, poverty and clerical celibacy and denounce the inheritance of bishoprics and abotries, and bring the Irish church under Rome's jurisdiction by imposing St Peter's Pence.
He comes to Wexford and attends a service in the monastery. He would like the monks to be dressed in well-worn brown habits, but they wear magnificent cream and black outfits. He would like them to sing anonymously from the back of the church, but they display themselves proudly up beside the altar. He would like them to sing plain chant, but they sing my song magnificently in four parts.
I have captured the jist of the words, not as magnificent as in the dream and omitting some lost verses, but the music now escapes me.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Hallowe'en Dance



Father, mother
And my own dear brother,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Father, mother,
              And my own dear brother,
Dancing, singing
              Till the light of dawn.

                        Will you stay?
Will you stay?
Will you stay and join me,
Dancing, singing,
Till the light of dawn.
(Repeat)

Granny, granddad,
              Those who went before you,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Granny, granddad,
              Those who went before you,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

All good neighbours,
              In their generations,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
All good neighbours,
              In their generations,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

All good spirits
              Gathering together,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
All good spirits
              Gathering together,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                             Will you stay? Etc.

Smiling, laughing,
              Feasting and drinking,
Dancing, singing,
              Till the light of dawn.
Smiling, laughing,
              Feasting and singing,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

                            Will you stay? Etc.

Father, mother,
              And my own dear brother,
Come to join me
              Till the light of dawn.
Father, mother,
              And my little brother,
Dancing, singing,
              Dancing on the lawn.

Will you stay?
Will you stay?
Will you stay and join me,
Dancing, singing,
Till the light of dawn.
(Repeat twice)



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Nelson

(A poem I wrote when I was a teenager, around 1959, a few years before Nelson was toppled from his pillar in Dublin)





Take Nelson down.

Fit
He dominate our town,
Is it?

Foreign man who fought French fleets,
Though remarkable his many feats,
What  do we to this man owe
That such respect for him we show?

He, with his one-eyed frown,
Looks our street up and down.
Cars and buses all around
Look little midges on the ground.

It is not fit!
Take Nelson down.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Domestic Ghosts

Old people are often visited by ghosts of their deceased relatives, easing their passage into the next life.

The young are afraid of ghosts,
But there is no need.
Our dead are all around us
Behind a screen.

When they show themselves,
It is to bring us calm
And accept life and death
As they are.

Their demeanour is friendly;
Their mood is gay.
If we are welcoming,
They will stay.

But as soon as we say,
"Go  now please,"
Without demur or sorrow
They will leave.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Lonesome Scot

After reading through a volume of Scottish songs, (with the aid of a dictionary), the Sots words started forming rhymes  in my brain.

Ne'er thay laired me hou tae winch,
An ne'er thay laired me hou tae coort.
Nae I gainder in the rouk
Unkennins as tae hou tae do it.

Thay laired me hou tae spell an coont,
An all the kintras in the warld.
But it ails me that I leared na hou
Tae woo a lass wi golden curls.

I see the wey they keek at me,
The lasses blythe and cannie:
Whate'er it is a man sud hae,
Thay deem I haena ony.

And it's becase the lame-legged wey
I habble to come in aboot them,
And hou I ganch and stammer then
Tae try tae get wirds spoken.

What guid to me are all the beuks,
An all the problems solven,
While I gang forth all on my ain,
A lanely furr a'pleuchin'?

"English" version:


Never they taught me how to flirt,
And never they taught me how to court.
Now I wander in the mist,
Ignorant of how  to do it.

They taught me how to spell and count,
And all the countries in the world.
But I regret I learned not how
To woo a girl with golden curls.

I see the way they peep at me,
The jolly and cunning girls:
Whatever it is a man should have,
They guess I have not any.

And it's because the lame-legged way
I hobble to approach them,
And how I stutter and stammer then
To try to get words spoken.

What good to me are all the books,
And all my problem-solving,
While I go forth all on my own,
A lonely furrow ploughing.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Swinging in the Choir

One of the additional eleven poems added to the new edition of Outrageous Poems published today:



Swinging in the choir

(A fictional choir of course)

The swinging began
When the choir went on tour,
Each Soprano and Alto
Already a whore
When we sang for the Pope
In Rome.

Father McCarthy
Was at it a lot.
We found he was both
A sod and a sot.
With no altar-boys,
Every Tenor he tried.
With respect for the cloth
Each one complied
And welcomed him into
The fold.  

As we headed for home
We swore to stay mum,
But never forsake
What we had begun.

Choir swings every week
On each Thursday night
Leaving our spouses
At home.

Avoiding attachment,
It’s best, so we found,
To constantly pass
The partners around.
We hope to continue,
For swinging is fun,
For ever and ever,
Amen.