Dreams of Home

by Peter Devonald

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy,
which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”
― W.B. Yeats

Born astride the grave makes us embrace life with passion:
seen so many terrible tragedies, famines and poverty
so we celebrate all good times with rich finesse.
Memories of class wars, genocide and violence
beat hard with every tune and dance and craic,
hearts pound rich and loud and proud,
complex histories expand the mind and batter the brain,
the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
The world is written by the worst, but literature written by the best,
our sanctuary and our hope, all roads lead us home.

Devastating books and plays thread their way through every nerve and sinew
tenacious, brilliant and starkly beautiful:
Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats
the names chime like bells across the lands
hearts swell with songs and visions of better times
realisations of our lives and dark truths
I can resist everything except temptation!
Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal made flesh
savage satire uncovers economic exploitation
hidden by the guilty, humour and hyperbole at our centre.

James Joyce, Iris Murdoch and Maeve Binchy
our language and lives witnessed and celebrated
with majesty, survival and inspiration:
May you live all the days of your life.
Sean O’Casey watched the Plough and the Stars in the Shadow of a Gunman:
All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.
Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel and Brendan Behan
the names trip off the tongue with all their quotes and glory
our culture inscribed in every gene and street.
Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again, Fail better.

Bram Stoker and Seamus Heaney honoured as true gentlemen
Poetry is what we do to break bread with the dead.
The dead and the living live on in books and plays and poems
remember Edmund Burke and Edna O’Brien
celebrate Roddy Doyle and Marian Keyes
to be Irish is to be inspired, great raconteurs
who see how so many have gone before and soared
or be broken and lost, the cost, the cost
to be Irish is to know the world will break your heart
the shameful loss, the deaths, the misery.

But still we dream, to be Irish is always to dream
embrace family and friends, know true meaning
at the centre of the world, community and lyrical love –
embroidered cloth with every square stitched and emboldened by stories
vibrant colours, vehement dramas, intricate ribbons and bows
thread tunes and reveries as they spread orange, white and verdant green
the myths and mystical bygone tales we have seen
glimpsed in Celtic scrolls, exquisite and magnificent
the yearning desire for the promise of a golden age
tender enthusiasm for a life full lived.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author.