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.

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