Stranger Fruit

Last Poem

One last poem for National Poetry Month. I had a number to possible poems that I was considering, but in the end settled with Donagh MacDonagh’s “Dublin Made Me” – I have a love-hate relationship with Dublin in that I loved what it was when I was growing up there and hate what it has become (a generic European city). MacDonagh expressed the arrogance of city-boys like me.

Dublin made me and no little town
With the country closing in on its streets
The cattle walking proudly on its pavements
The jobbers, the gombeenmen and the cheats

Devouring the fair-day between them
A public-house to half a hundred men
And the teacher, the solicitor and the bank-clerk
In the hotel bar drinking for ten.

Dublin made me, not the secret poteen still
The raw and hungry hills of the West
The lean road flung over profitless bog
Where only a snipe could nest

Where the sea takes its tithe of every boat.
Bawneen and currach have no allegiance of mine,
Nor the cute self-deceiving talkers of the South
Who look to the East for a sign.

The soft and dreary midlands with their tame canals
Wallow between sea and sea, remote from adventure
And Northward a far and fortified province
Crouches under the lash of arid censure.

I disclaim all fertile meadows, all tilled land
The evil that grows from it and the good,
But the Dublin of old statutes, this arrogant city
Stirs proudly and secretly in my blood.

For those of you who may want to check out more Irish poetry, you could do worse that check here.

Comments

  1. #1 John Wilkins
    April 30, 2006

    I’m surprised that an Irish philosopher of biology wouldn’t choose this:

    Death of a Naturalist
    by Seamus Heaney

    All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
    Of the townland; green and heavy headed
    Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
    Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
    Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
    Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
    There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
    But best of all was the warm thick slobber
    Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
    In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
    I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
    Specks to range on window-sills at home,
    On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
    The fattening dots burst into nimble-
    Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
    The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
    And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
    Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
    Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
    For they were yellow in the sun and brown
    In rain.
    Then one hot day when fields were rank
    With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
    Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
    To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
    Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
    Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked
    On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
    The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
    Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
    I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
    Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
    That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.

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