Cow dung and Bloomsday — 6 Comments

  1. Shame really since Ireland is / was largely rural that it’s poets aren’t recognised. Apologies Ian for being absent for so long. I will try to catch up. I miss your posts.

  2. Well there are always…
    County Kerry’s John B Keane (The Field, Sive, etc, etc). Did you ever drop into his pub in Listowel? It was a calm place for a quiet pint when I was there.
    And I enjoy the poetry of County Monaghan man Patrick Kavanagh – and his autobiography the Green Fool.
    He’s an example. It’s called Art McCooey.

    I recover now the time I drove
    Cart-loads of dung to an outlying farm –
    My foreign possessions in Shancoduff –
    With the enthusiasm of a man who sees life simply.

    The steam rising from the load is still
    Warm enough to thaw my frosty fingers.
    In Donnybrook in Dublin ten years later
    I see that empire now and the empire builder.

    Sometimes meeting a neighbour
    In country love-enchantment,
    The old mare pulls over to the bank and leaves us
    To fiddle folly where November dances.

    We wove our disappointments and successes
    To patterns of a town-bred logic:
    ‘She might have been sick… No, never before,
    A mystery, Pat, and they all appear so modest.’

    We exchanged our fool advices back and forth:
    ‘It easily could be their cow was calving,
    And sure the rain was desperate that night…’
    Somewhere in the mists a light was laughing.

    We played with the frilly edges of reality
    While we puffed our cigarettes;
    And sometimes Owney Martin’s splitting yell
    Would knife the dreamer that the land begets.

    ‘I’ll see you after Second Mass on Sunday.’
    ‘Right-o, right-o.’ The mare moves on again.
    A wheel rides over a heap of gravel
    And the mare goes skew-ways like a blinded hen.

    Down the lane-way of the popular banshees
    By Paddy Bradley’s: mud to the ankles;
    A hare is grazing in Mat Rooney’s meadow:
    Maggie Byrne is prowling for dead branches.

    Ten loads before tea-time. Was that the laughter
    Of the evening bursting school?
    The sun sinks low and large behind the hills of Cavan,
    A stormy-looking sunset. ‘Brave and cool’.

    Wash out the cart with a bucket of water and a wangel
    Of wheaten straw. Jupiter looks down.
    Unlearnedly and unreasonably poetry is shaped
    Awkwardly but alive in the unmeasured womb.

  3. And of course Patrick Kavanagh in Monaghan and of course plenty of Irish language literature that has nothing to do with Dublin

  4. I thought of that poem too by Kavanagh. Don’t get me started on Yeats……..
    I am tryng to think of a Laois literary connection but the nearest I can get is Manley Hopkins………but he didn’t exactly write nursery rhymes!!!!!!

  5. Kavanagh manages the transition from rural to urban. I know it’s cliched, but I love ‘On Raglan Road’.

    Neither Kavanagh nor Keane, though, would command the status of those in O’Toole’s list

  6. Having strayed into this site on Bloomsnight one must add….’beef to the heels a Mullingar heifer..’ a Joycean quote that comes to mind apropos of the Cow Dung and Bloomsday. I think it referred to a lady.
    The Slieve Bloom Joycean connections could well be researched…..Joyceans have found or even maybe, created, connections ranging from Rostrevor to Avondale. Any excuse at all for a picnic.
    It was Junior Cert. Physics and RE revision in this Killiney home tonight with the resident student. Surfing the Net to wind down….and just time to say, Hope it was a Happy Bloomsday.
    Roslyn N,

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