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Cross-Cultural Program: Ireland and Northern Ireland 2001
Irish Poetry referenced in Journal Sept 18-24

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The Lake Isle of Innisfree · H-Block Shuttle · Desertmartin

 
The Lake Isle of Innisfree - William Butler Yeats
 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

 

H-Block Shuttle - Rita Ann Higgins
 

We see nothing
from the Inter-Kesh-Shuttle
the H-mobile,
only the people seated
on the other side
(and no one really knows
which side they are on).

Somewhere between Hs,
an overdue light bill,
thoughts of a holiday for two
(in anywhere but Gibraltar)
and the one who's doing life,

the H-mobile stops,
we wait for the doors to open
Tic toc, tic toc, tic toc.

Time for a head count.
He counts our heads
on his fingers
for a living,
while the people seated here
count the relatives
they have left
(some are running
out of uncles).

Some brazen it
with a false laugh
some stare ahead
forgetting to blink.

A woman whispers
'We're going to the showers,'
others throw Mass card glances
at their shoes
(with them he counts
the back of their heads).

'Hey mister,
what do you do
for a shilling
a queen's shilling?'

'I count heads
for a living
my clean living.'

'Do you speak
to the heads
that you count?'

'I'm not paid
to speak to the heads
who don't count
I'm paid to count
the heads who don't speak.'

'And why
do the heads
that you count
not speak?'

'Outside the dogs bark
to ensure
that the heads
who don't count
that I count
don't speak...'

'And what about
the no-windows scare?'

'No windows are there
to ensure
that the heads
who don't count
that I count
don't see.'

'And what is
it out there
that the heads
who you count
shouldn't see?'

'I count heads
on my fingers
for a living
for my clean living
for my queen's shilling.

'I get paid
to count heads
who don't count
no to tell you

'what the heads
who don't count
that I count
shouldn't see.'

We see nothing
from the Inter-Kesh-Shuttle
the H-mobile,
only the people seated
on the other side
(and no one really knows
which side they are on).

 
Desertmartin - Tom Paulin
 
At noon, in the dead centre of a faith,
Between Draperstown and Magherafelt,
This bitter village shows the flag
In a baked absolute September light.
Here the Word has withered to a few
Parched certainties, and the charred stubble
Tightens like a black belt, a crop of Bibles.

Because this is the territory of the Law
I drive across it with a powerless knowledge--
The owl of Minerva in a hired car.
A Jock squaddy glances down the street
And grins, happy and expendable,
Like a brass cartridge. He is a useful thing,
Almost at home, and yet not quite, not quite.

It's a limed nest, this place. I see a plain
Presbyterian grace sour, then harden,
As a free strenuous spirit changes
To a servile defiance that whines and shrieks
For the bondage of the letter: it shouts
For the Big Man to lead his wee people
To a clean white prison, their scorched tomorrow.

Masculine Islam, the rule of the Just,
Egyptian sand dunes and geometry,
A theology of rifle-butts and executions:
These are the places where the spirit dies.
And now, in Desertmartin's sandy light,
I see a culture of twigs and bird-shit
Waving a gaudy flag it loves and curses.


HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
 
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)