I Some day I will go to Aarhus To see his peat-brown head, The mild pods of his eye-lids, His pointed skin cap. In the flat country near by Where they dug him out, His last gruel of winter seeds Caked in his stomach, Naked except for The cap, noose and girdle, I will stand a long time. Bridegroom to the goddess, She tightened her torc on him And opened her fen, Those dark juices working Him to a saint's kept body, Trove of the turfcutters' Honeycombed workings. Now his stained face Reposes at Aarhus. Tollund Man
III Something of his sad freedom As he rode the tumbril Should come to me, driving, Saying the names Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard, Watching the pointing hands Of country people, Not knowing their tongue. Out there in Jutland In the old man-killing parishes I will feel lost, Unhappy and at home. II I could risk blasphemy, Consecrate the cauldron bog Our holy ground and pray Him to make germinate The scattered, ambushed Flesh of labourers, Stockinged corpses Laid out in the farmyards, Tell-tale skin and teeth Flecking the sleepers Of four young brothers, trailed For miles along the lines.
EPIC I have lived in important places, times When great events were decided: who owned That half a rood of rock, a no mans land Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims, I heard the Duffys shouting Damn your soul And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen Step to plot defying blue cast-steel- Here is the march along these iron stones That was the year of the Munich bother. Which Was most important? I inclined To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin Till Homers ghost came whispering to my mind He said: I made the Iliad from such A local row. Gods make their own importance.
Longleys Laertes and Ceasefire Greek Epics and Northern Ireland
Longleys Laertes When he found Laertes alone on the tidy terrace, hoeing Around a vine, disreputable in his gardening duds, Patched and grubby, leather gaiters protecting his shins Against bramblers, gloves as well, and to cap it all, Sure sign of his deep depression, a goatskin duncher, Odysseus sobbed in the shade of a pear-tree for his father So old and pathetic that all he wanted then and there Was to kiss him and hug him and blurt out the whole story, But the whole story is one catalogue and then another, So he waited for images from that formal garden, Evidence of a childhood spent traipsing after his father And asking for everything he saw, the thirteen pear-trees, Ten apple-trees, forty fig-trees, the fifty rows of vines Ripening at different times for a continuous supply, Until Laertes recognised his son and, weak at the knees, Dizzy, flung his arms around the neck of great Odysseus Who drew the old man fainting to his breast and held him there And cradled like driftwook the bones of his dwindling father.
Longleys Ceasefire I Put in mind of his own father and moved to tears Achilles took him by the hand and pushed the old king Gently away, but Priam curled up at his feet and Wept with him until their sadness filled the building. II Taking Hectors corpse into his hands Achilles Made sure it was washed and, for the old kings sake, Laid out in uniform, ready for Priam to carry Wrapped like a present home to Troy at daybreak. III When they had eaten together, it pleased them both To stare at eachs others beauty as lovers might, Achilles built like a god, Priam good-looking still And full of conversation, who earlier had sighed: IV I get down on my knees and do what must be done And kiss Achilles hand, the killer of my son.
VI. The Stares Nest by My Window The bees build in the crevices Of loosening masonry, and there The mother birds bring grubs and flies, My wall is loosening; honey-bees, Come build in the empty house of the stare. We are closed in, and the key is turned On our certainty; somewhere A man is killed, or a house burned, Yet no clear fact to be discerned: Come build in the empty house of the stare. A barricade of stone or of wood; Some fourteen days of civil war; Last night the trundled down the road That dead young soldier in his blood: Come build in the empty house of the stare. We had fed the heart of fantasies The hearts grown brutal from the fare; More substance in our enmities Than in our love; O honey-bees, Come build in the empty house of the stare. *From Meditations in Time of Civil War W. B. Yeats
Joyces Ulysses Trieste – Zurich – Paris,1914-1921 An Irish Jew based on a Greek hero
Flann OBriens The Third Policeman A Joycean comic!
But as time went on I saw more and more how he managed to alienate Mother and me. What made it worse was that I couldnt grasp his method or see what attaction he had for Mother. In every possible way he was less winning than I. He had a common accent and made noises at his tea. I thought for a while that it might be the newspapers she was interested in, so I made up bits of news of my own to read to her. Then I thought it might be the smoking, which I personally thought attractive, and took his pipes and went round the house dribbling into them until he caught me. I even made noises at my tea, but Mother only told me I was disgusting. It all seemed to hinge round that unhealthy habit of sleeping together, so I made a point of dorpping into their bedroom and nosing round, talking to myself, so that they wouldnt know I was watching them, but they were never up to anything that I could see. In the end it beat me. It seemed to depend on being grown-up and giving people rings, and I realized Id have to wait. But at the same time I wanted him to see that I was only waiting, not giving up the fight. One evening when he was being particularly obnoxious, chattering away well above my head, I let him have it. …/… My Oedipus Complex – Frank OConnor
…/… Mummy, I said, do you know what Im going to do when I grow up? No, dear, she replied. What? Im going to marry you, I said quietly. Father gave a great guffaw out of him, but he didnt take me in. I knew it must only be pretence. And Mother, in spite of everything, was pleased. I felt she was probably relieved to know that one day Fathers hold on her would be broken. Wont that be nice? she said with a smile. Itll be very nice, I said confidentialy. Because were going to have lots and lots of babies. Thats right, dear, she said placidly. I think well have one soon, and then youll have plenty of company. I was no end pleased about that because it showed that in spite of the way she gave in to Father she still considered my wishes. Besides, it would put the Geneys in their place. It didnt turn like that, though. My Oedipus Complex – Frank OConnor
MARIE-ROSE sat at her dressing table in dim lamp-light and brushed her silky gold hair, which curled and lolled very prettily against her shoulder. In spite of weary lines about her eyes, she was looking –she could not but admit – delicious. She ran her hand affectionately along her smooth young cheek, and mused with an impartial pleasure upon the whiteness of her throat. The white frills of her night dress, the flounces and ruches of her white silk wrap, foamed delicately, and made a dramatic darkness of the shadows in which she sat. She gazed and meditated –and pleasure grew less impartial and more tender. With pity at last she studied herself, remembering the life of clash and resistance in which her beauty was compelled to wither. And there was no escape, not even here in her own home! Oh, if only he hadnt come to-day! If only she could have had this interval of peace with Nag! Tears filled her eyes, and she let them fall, leaning her cheek on her hand, and staring into the glass. The Ante-Room – Kate OBrien
Montagues A Welcoming Party Ireland and Auschwitz
Becketts Catastrophe Ireland and Czechoslovakia
Some Mothers Son - The Auld Enemy – Ireland and Britain –
The Civil Servant He was preparing an Ulster fry for breakfast When someone walked into the kitchen and shot him: A bullet entered his mouth and pierced his skull, The books he had read, the music he could play. He lay in his dressing gown and pyjamas While they dusted the dresser for fingerprints An then shuffled backwards across the garden With notebooks, cameras and measuring tapes. They rolled him up like a red carpet and left Only a bullet hole in the cutlery drawer: Later his widow took a hammer and chisel And removed the black keys from his piano. Wreaths - Michael Longley
The Greengrocer He ran a good shop, and he died Serving even the death-dealers Who found him busy as usual Behind the counter, organised With holly wreaths for Christmas, Fir trees on the pavement outside. Astrologers or three wise men Who may shortly be setting out For a small house up the Shankill Or the Falls, should pause on their way To buy gifts at Jim Gibsons shop, Dates and chesnuts and tangerines. Wreaths - Michael Longley
The Linen Workers Christs teeth ascend with him into heaven: Through a cavity in one of his molars The wind whistles: he is fastened for ever By his exposed canines to a wintry sky. I am blinded by the blaze of that smile And by the memory of my fathers false teeth Brimming in their tumbler: they wore bubbles And, outside of his body, a deadly grin. When they massacred the ten linen workers There fell on the road beside them spectacles, Wallets, small change, and a set of dentures: Blood, food particles, the bread, the wine. Before I can bury my father once again I must polish the spectacles, balance them Upon his nose, fill his pockets with money And into his dead mouth slip the set of teeth. Wreaths - Michael Longley