How is the faithful city … become a harlot?
— Isaiah 1:21
Her ghost wheels the barrow …
— Old Dublin ballad
Ter-ot. Stumble. Clock-clock, clock-clock!
And heavy turning wheels of lurching cab
On midnight streets of Dublin shiny in the rain!
No trams squirt wide the liquid mud at this hour.
The dark-and-light-engulfing box
Wheels through the wetness
From empty healthy air in
To Dublin’s stale voluptuousness.
Such rutty, muddy streets to clock, clock-clock on, horse!
With torso waving
Hold the seat with gluteal muscles.
And inquisitive moulting swans
Sleeping now and
How long since your last absolution?
Answer: Seven hundred years.
In inquisitive days
The swans gave quick doom
Wet lurching lamplight lights wet lurching houses.
Here, one wrecked!
A rotting tooth
In the rotting head of
An Iberian gentleman failure!
Or fierce, frightened Black-and-Tans
Rain, rain …
Wrecks wetly mouldering under rain,
You cannot pick up the
But, oh, Phoenicians, who on blood-red seas
Come sailing to the Galerie des Glaces
And you, gombeenmen
On blue hills of office
No man hath greater lunacy than this.
In the absurdity of ugliness
Some found quick doom
And some us
Look and see!
But why look?
You that saw!
It’s but Kathleen
Or Molly —
Kathleen is so seldom seen in Dublin
And besides she’s no harlot —
Yes, it’s Molly,
Giving herself to green soldiers.
The unfaithful city
Has gone away backward
Britannia indeed is not gone
But the red, red, rose
Withers into its mossy coat.
In a green great-coat
And wet lamplit shade
That’s what Browning found
At the doin’s
In the ruins.
We’re soldiers of the queen, my lads
But all of us together
But how long till your swagger-stick blossoms?
The king, his inns, behind!
But there’s little room for him now.
Poor king’s a-cold.
Poor inns o’court
To be all but all of Gandon left!
When the Custom House took fire
Hope slipped off her green petticoat
The Four Courts went up in a spasm
Moses felt for Hope
Folge mir Frau
Come up to Valhalla
To gile na gile
The brightness of brightness
Towering in the sky
The dark sloblands below in their glory
Dark night has come down on us, mother
Do not look for a star
Our Siegfried was doped by the Gibichungs.
How the gods crumble wetly!
Said enthusing Gaulish Gandon
To Anglo-Irish Smyth,
You’re Michelangelo, his peer.
Said Dublin then, Hear Hear!
So Dublin’s rows
Of Michelangelos …
My muse, how thou art constricted!
Like Sir Philip Crampton’s trickle.
Oh, city of unbeautiful fountains
That think’st thyself an Athens
The Hellas of a Hellas
And you but the Pale of the Pale.
No Saint Michael
No Nettuno —
And when did you
Neptune might drive off Famine and Despair,
Could he drive off despair,
But against your Pale green he was ill-aspected,
And Neptune ill-aspected … !
I weep for Hippolyte.
Let Neptune crumble in the rain!
Let the gods of the Romans go after
The arts of Britannia
And the withering rose.
They are gone, they are gone
Gandon and Smyth
We have no Smygandons to-day
Our Smyths bloom discreetly in narcissus beds
In matrimonial suburbs
Our Gandons turn mariner
And, quarrelling, sail oceans
Oh a wet sheet and a row
And a wind that
And the rain
That’s all there is for sweet Molly
Though she seek in the night
For dangerous occasions of beauty
Veni Creator …
How long since
A lifted hand
And ego te absolv —
Blest, fabled unreality!
Its reality your one hope of absolution
While our goddess is kept in Limbo
La victoria es a los dos.
But how should we not believe
In that extra-real brightness
Of political absolution?
For reality is but the lifted hand
Of oppression and
This plaster riddle-me-riddle-me-rie
Backfiring on Albrecht der Jude,
Rotting rain-soaked wreaths against it
Soldiers in shadows
In the wet night.
How long since?
Easter Saturday, 1923.