“undermining old certainties..”

Thanks to PJM in the comments zone at this previous, related, post. Poet Michael Longley’s filmed contribution to the Digging Deeper project discussing his sense of Irishness and Britishness and neither in a region of the archipelago where identity has been reduced to a “pathological political form”. Also related thoughts on identity from Hugo MacNeill.. and John Hewitt.. and John Banville on his own personal culture.

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  • Greenflag

    Nothing that either Micheal Longley or Hugo MacNeil says should be a threat to anybody or for that matter a surprise . However both and John Banville come from what can be called the better heeled and better educated element in Ireland / North and South .

    For the less well off in the Shankill and West Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland the somewhat esoteric and philosophical luxury of indulging in multiple identities is a luxury they can’t afford and even if they could their neighbours might not be enamoured of their ‘new found’ tolerance .

    Susan McKay in the other clip was I thought much closer to the ‘on the ground’ feelings of the majority of people in NI (both communities) than any of the above .

    Whats at stake is not Britishness or Irishness or Europeaness -for each one of us can have the multiple ‘identities’ that all of the above can provide .

    Getting the politics to work for the good of all is ultimately much more important than these ‘navel gazing exercises’

    Anyway with apologies to Mr Longley its POETS day (Push Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday)

  • New Yorker

    There is much wisdom from Michael Longley in this excellent piece. I especially like his position on the “confluence of cultures” and the greater benefit derived from drawing from all of them rather than just one parochial inheritance.

    Greenflag

    The navel gazing needs to be done across the board before the politics can change. Unless the people change the politics will not change and will remain deadlocked in the present two sectarian camps. Change filters down from the people to the politics, not the reverse in most cases.

  • susan

    What, no shout out to Louis MacNiece, author of the last poem I shared with the man who taught me virtually all the first poems I ever heard, my Catholic, republican grandfather? you’re slipping, pete. You are slipping. ;o)

    Moving interview. It’s a nonsense to say that a sense of multiple identities is not a factor to the lesser-heeled, although it may be articulated less. How many Northern Catholics have moved or visited the South, only to find themselves alienated and completely taken aback by the level of corruption and/or cute hoorism in local or national politics? How many proud Ulster Protestants have emigrated to London or Liverpool and found that to the English they were seen, and not so very long ago late in the evening addressed, as “paddies” every bit as much as though they hailed from West Belfast, or West Cork for that matter?

    Nor have I ever found that poetry matters less to those most affected by the Troubles. Quite the opposite.

  • susan

    As there are those who rarely click on the links and only read the comments — ah, g’wan, g’wan, you say — i had the impulse to reproduce the poem Longley reads at the end of the interview, “Ceasefire” here. hard as it is to believe, some readers here were only teens or younger when it was first published, and might enjoy encountering it again. To some Achilles represents the paramilitaries, to others, the British Empire, and to others, both, or none of the above, but all can feel for Priam’s tears, and his survival.

    Ceasefire

    1
    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.

    2
    Taking Hector’s corpse into his own hands Achilles
    Made sure it was washed and, for the old king’s sake,
    Laid out in uniform, ready for Priam to carry
    Wrapped like a present home to Troy at daybreak.

    3
    When they had eaten together, it pleased them both
    To stare at each other’s beauty as lovers might,
    Achilles built like a god, Priam good-looking still
    And full of conversation, who earlier had sighed:

    4
    ‘I get down on my knees and do what must be done
    And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son.’

    To some, Achilles would be PIRA, to others the British Empire itself, but

    Michael Longley said:

  • susan

    sorry for the poor, rushed editing of my own fragmented thoughts. Let me post the poem on its own:

    Ceasefire, by Michael Longley

    1
    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.

    2
    Taking Hector’s corpse into his own hands Achilles
    Made sure it was washed and, for the old king’s sake,
    Laid out in uniform, ready for Priam to carry
    Wrapped like a present home to Troy at daybreak.

    3
    When they had eaten together, it pleased them both
    To stare at each other’s beauty as lovers might,
    Achilles built like a god, Priam good-looking still
    And full of conversation, who earlier had sighed:

    4
    ‘I get down on my knees and do what must be done
    And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son.’

  • Pete Baker

    susan

    “What, no shout out to Louis MacNiece..”

    It’s either too many links, or too few..

    My bad ;o)

  • Greenflag

    New Yorker,

    ‘There is much wisdom from Michael Longley in this excellent piece.’

    There is -most of it plain common sense .

    ‘I especially like his position on the “confluence of cultures” and the greater benefit derived from drawing from all of them rather than just one parochial inheritance.’

    Any European artist , composer , painter etc German , French , Italian.Spaniard , Dutch etc would understand the ‘confluence of cultures’ without for a moment compromising their individual nationality or their common european cultural backgrounds. It’s the relative cultural isolation of Northern Ireland from the european mainstream which makes this ‘confluence of cultures’ seem like a new ‘discovery’

    ‘The navel gazing needs to be done across the board before the politics can change.’

    There’s been too much navel gazing in NI for the past 40 years .

    ‘Unless the people change the politics will not change and will remain deadlocked in the present two sectarian camps.’

    The present political ‘solution’ has been designed so as to maintain the ‘integrity’ of the present two sectarian camps . In fact it’s been cemented into place under the terms of the GFA .

    susan ,

    ‘How many Northern Catholics have moved or visited the South, only to find themselves alienated and completely taken aback by the level of corruption and/or cute hoorism in local or national politics? ‘

    True it must come as a shock that southerners don’t kill each other by the thousands because of one’s politics, religion or ethnicity . As we all know Northern Ireland is renowned the world over for it’s principled incorruptible politicians ? So many principles have both sets of politicians had that it took them 40 years to compromise them a fraction in order to sit in the same room without killing each other 🙁

    ” How many proud Ulster Protestants have emigrated to London or Liverpool and found that to the English they were seen, and not so very long ago late in the evening addressed, as “paddies” every bit as much as though they hailed from West Belfast, or West Cork for that matter? ‘

    Can’t have very much pride or backbone then can they ?. Anybody who addresses me by anything other than my proper name would find himself apologising and learning it very quickly or would find himself kissing the pavement with a bloody nose or a sore jaw.

  • Dewi

    I liked that “Creative Commotion” Very cool phrase.

  • New Yorker

    Greenflag

    There has not been sufficient navel gazing. That is why the present jury-rigged ‘solution’ will fail. Successful societies are not divided into sectarian camps. As our Mayor Bloomberg said – the walls are still there and proof of the problem that prevents bringing the economy up to speed.

  • Greenflag

    New Yorker,

    ‘There has not been sufficient navel gazing’

    I doubt if there is a society/political entity/ ethno-religious tribal groups/classes call it what you want -that has been subjected to as much sociological research -conflict /attitude studies anywhere in the world more so than Northern Ireland . Northern Ireland has provided almost two generations of material for budding PHD’s across every academic disciplne bar perhaps physics 🙁

    ‘That is why the present jury-rigged ‘solution’ will fail.’

    The present ‘solution’ will fail not because of a lack of navel gazing but for two basic reasons,

    a) the NI State in it’s present 6 county format can never become a ‘normal democracy’such as the Republic or the UK (excluding NI), France, Germany etc and
    b) the local politicians will be unable to deliver the ‘economic ‘ goods longer term at least from the perspective of creating sufficient economic growth to keep the best and brightest of it’s young people in Northern Ireland and not lose them to either the UK or Republic or elsewhere.

  • susan

    ‘True it must come as a shock that southerners don’t kill each other by the thousands because of one’s politics, religion or ethnicity . As we all know Northern Ireland is renowned the world over for it’s principled incorruptible politicians ? So many principles have both sets of politicians had that it took them 40 years to compromise them a fraction in order to sit in the same room without killing each other :(“–greenflag

    Greenflag; Would you care to put an estimate on the number of Northerners who have also never killed anyone because of their politics, their religion, or their ethnicity, who ALSO find some of the cute hoorism in local politics in the South disillusioning when they encounter it in person? Or are you claiming you have to grow up in Dublin, Cork, or Galway to have a right to be taken aback by — just off the top of my head — the nursing homes scandal, the long waiting lists of patients who must wait to long for treatment due to the two-tiered health system, or some of the side deals and corrupt practices in planning and development?

    My post was in no way a compare and contrast, merely on the topic of competitinig and multiple identities and pointing out that after putting the government and society of the Republic on a (comparative) pedestal, many Northerners encounter a fair bit of, shall we say, cognitive dissonance between their expectations and reality when they spend a lot of time there.

    As for this: “Anybody who addresses me by anything other than my proper name would find himself apologising and learning it very quickly or would find himself kissing the pavement with a bloody nose or a sore jaw.’–Greenflag

    Greenflag, I’m going to assume you were celebrating the arrival of the weekend, because I’ve read too many insightful, intelligent posts from you over a long period to think that in the cold clear light of day you wouldn’t see the irony of first trumpeting the non-violence of Southerners who ‘don’t kill each other by the thousands because of one’s politics, religion or ethnicity’ and then boasting of your ability to knock to the ground anyone who calls you a name you wouldn’t like.

    Again, would you care to put an estimate on the number of Northerners from either community who have never killed anyone because of their politics, religion, or ethnicity, and also managaged routinely not to resort to street violence when called names far worse than “paddy”?

  • Greenflag

    ‘As our Mayor Bloomberg said – the walls are still there and proof of the problem that prevents bringing the economy up to speed.’

    Bringing the NI economy up to speed has nothing to do with the walls . People in NI go about their normal lives everyday regardless of the walls . The NI economy is 70% dependent on the public sector and there is insufficient ‘entrepreneurial’ activity in the private sector because the latter is ‘drowned out ‘ by the former . Corporate taxation rates and political instability (longer term) are the main reasons for the lack of direct foreign and even domestic investment .

    The best NI can hope for is for the present accomodation to last long enough so that a return to the previous era of conflict becomes for all not just unimaginable but inconceivable .

    If poets and artists have a role to play in the education of the public mind in that regard then I’m all for their contribution – however the practical nuts and bolts of solidifying peace in NI will not come from navel gazing but from -good laws – economic growth – peace and stability and a sound constitution .

  • susan

    returning to the topic of poetry and competiting identities, here’s an excerpt from Gearóid Mac Lochlainn;

    ‘Tonight, my friends, there will be no translations,
    nothing translated, altered, diluted
    with hub-bubbly English
    that turns my ferment of poems
    to lemonade.
    no, tonight, there will be no translations.

    Sometimes, you get tired talking
    to lazy Irish ears. Tired
    of self-satisfied monoglots who say‹
    It sounds lovely. I wish I had the Irish.
    Don’t you do translations?

    The irony that those stanzas are themselves in English is lost neither on the poet nor his audiences.

  • Greenflag

    Susan , as to your numbers

    ‘Would you care to put an estimate on the number of Northerners who have also never killed anyone because of their politics, their religion, or their ethnicity,’

    98% (my estimate) . Conventional wisdom /perception inculcated by the mass media etc would be much lower (you don’t get a second chance to create a first impression) would probably rate 50% ? Thus the paucity of tourists – investment etc although happily now that is changing

    ‘find some of the cute hoorism in local politics in the South disillusioning when they encounter it in person?

    98% (NI )

    75% (ROI) mainly because we’re both used to it and find ways of circumventing it 🙁 And most of know when to steer clear of it .

    ‘many Northerners encounter a fair bit of, shall we say, cognitive dissonance between their expectations and reality when they spend a lot of time there.’

    I’m not surprised . People from East Germany also suffered ‘cognitive’ dissonance when they had to adjust to the realities of a mainly non public sector economy when the German border was ‘opened’.

    ‘you wouldn’t see the irony ‘

    No I would’nt :). There’s a major difference in practical outcomes between smacking somebody on the jaw for calling one a name one would rather not be called – and putting lead in a persons head because of their ethnicity,religion, nationality, class or skin colour . In the former a lesson in how to address people by their proper name may have been learnt, whereas in the latter case all potential for learning ceases on a permanent basis.

    I assure you I do not as a rule go for the instant jaw fix method of conflict resolution – a request for an apology is always first addressed . The fist only follows if the request is not complied with -I also adhere to Queenberry’s rulesand ensure my victim gets proper medical attention afterwards 🙂

    The above is not I assure you a regular weekend occurrence and so far in life I’ve only had to resort to this strategy twice.

    ‘would you care to put an estimate on the number of Northerners from both communities who managaged routinely not to resort to street violence when called names far worse than “paddy”? ‘

    In NI it would have to be a majority . Call it a learned cross cultural ‘response ‘ . Name calling is part of cultural indoctrination in NI and reaches a crescendo usually in the summer months IIRC. But even the Northern Irish fail miserably when cross comparisoned with the superlative invective dished out by the Arabs to one another 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘The irony that those stanzas are themselves in English is lost neither on the poet nor his audiences.’

    We had the same teacher for English and Irish and he was a particular fan of some English poet and during one class occassion waxed lyrical over one line /sentence from this poet -Coleridge or Tennyson or somebody . One pupil who was not in said teacher’s good books in the Irish class attempted to regain his standing by directly translating this wonderful line from the English into Irish as part of an Irish essay .

    Our teacher though a Gaelic ‘nationalist ‘ of the ultra variety was so outraged at this sacrilige on his favoutite piece of english poetry the poetic that said pupil got a clout on the back of his head for his misdirected effort.

    Poetry doesn’t translate. Neither sometimes does humour as poor Dustin has discovered recently .

  • runciter

    2% of the population of NI is approximately 35,000 people.

    If this group of individuals killed on average 1 person each, then that would imply approximately 35,000 deaths.

    Clearly the population of the North are not quite so murderous as Greenflag thinks.

  • susan

    thank you for crunching that number, runciter.

    On a side note, something struck me during the morning’s rounds (God forbid I concentrate on what I’m actually doing, ever) about the people who’ve held the cross-border post of Professor of Poetry for Ireland.

    John Montague was born in Brooklyn, and moved back to rural Tyrone as a child. Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was born in England to Irish parents, grew up in Dingle in an English speaking household but writes only in Irish. Michael Longley was born in Belfast to English parents. The fourth poet to hold the chair I can’t recall off the top of my head, and I apologise sincerely for that, but clearly there is a connection between poetry and the push-pull of competing or contrasting cultures.

  • Greenflag

    runciter,

    ‘If this group of individuals killed on average 1 person each, then that would imply approximately 35,000 deaths.’

    Well it would if killings in NI were always one on one . They were’nt .In many cases death resulted from people being killed by several attackers or a mob . How many times have we read of an innocent catholic or protestant being set upon and kicked to death by a group of thugs .

    Do you know the exact number ? Mine was an estimate . In any event the general ‘perception’ would be a lot higher than my estimate at least from te position of most people outside NI.

    crunch again 🙂

  • runciter

    Well it would if killings in NI were always one on one

    That is not what ‘average’ means.

    Do you know the exact number?

    No, but given that approximtely 3,500 people were killed during the Troubles it seems unreasonable to assume that the number of indigenous killers is ten times that figure.

    Mine was an estimate

    Based on what?

    In any event the general ‘perception’ would be a lot higher than my estimate at least from te position of most people outside NI.

    Another estimate, I assume?

  • New Yorker

    Greenflag

    Good story about your former teacher.

    I am not referring to collective navel gazing as some academics conduct it but individual self-reflection. When people reflect and come to the conclusion that they are part Irish, part British, part Northerner, part European – as Michael Longley does in the above – the individual sectarianism and hate recedes. That then seeps into the political sphere and positive change can start to take hold. I think that is the only way out of the ‘basket-case’ predicament. Good laws are only good when people adhere to them, otherwise they are just empty aspirations.

  • Gregory

    “True it must come as a shock that southerners don’t kill each other by the thousands”

    They were separate from this death?

    G.

  • Gregory

    “Again, would you care to put an estimate on the number of Northerners from either community who have never killed anyone because of their politics, religion, or ethnicity, and also managaged routinely not to resort to street violence when called names far worse than “paddy”? ”

    Susan

    In Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge, when I was growing up there, the idea of people not being connected to the IRA was not an idea I understood.

    I thought everybody was part of the experience. I didn’t think opting out was allowed. I also assumed that everywhere else was like that.

    G.

  • Greenflag

    New Yorker ,

    I understand what you are saying and indeed individual self reflection is usually but not always a part of growing maturity . Most ordinary people in Northern Ireland from both sides of the divide are kinda busy paying their mortgages , rearing their children, and trying to hold on to their jobs and mind their own business. I think the ‘self reflection’ that you refer to probably comes second nature to intelligent people like Mr Longley and others of the artisitic /intellectual fraternity but for most of ordinary folk it’s a bit kinda high falutin.

    I believe however that as people ‘mature’ they do take a broader and more tolerant view of differences between themselves and others . Sadly most of those who died/were killed /murdered/ in the troubles tended to be from the younger age cohort of the population which never knew maturity and exited this mortal coil long before they reached it .

    I’m not denying poetry /art does not have a role in broadening people’s outlooks but we should not look to this source for solving what people elect politicians to do .

  • Greenflag

    Runciter ,

    I’ve revised my estimate in the light of your trenchant factual analysis .

    Would you believe 0.8572349876% ?

    I’m sure it’ll make the dead and their families feel better 🙁

    ‘In any event the general ‘perception’ would be a lot higher than my estimate at least from the position of most people outside NI.’

    Not another estimate just practical life experience . Go anywhere in the world and mention Northern Ireland and you’ll find that the perception that people have of the place tends to be a good deal worse than that of the indigenes. Hopefully that will now change with NI being advertised as a tourist destination along with the Republic.

  • runciter

    I’ve revised my estimate in the light of your trenchant factual analysis

    You’re welcome.

  • Dave

    “Clearly the population of the North are not quite so murderous as Greenflag thinks.” – runciter

    Given that people join sectarian murder gangs with the specific intent of murdering, a more reliable measure of those with “murderous” intent is to count the number of people who were members of such gangs. Coiste na n-Iarchimi, a group that represents ex-prisoners of republican murder gangs, puts the number of republican ex-prisoners at 18,000 and the number of loyalist ex-prisoners at 12,000. It’s a safe assumption that not every member of those murder gangs was convicted, so the actual number of members is likely to be substantially higher than 30,000. That computes with Greenflag’s original guessimate of 2% of the population being of a murderous ilk.

  • Jo

    Susan,

    Thanks for citing a beautiful poem which I had the honour ( I mean that) of hearing Mr Longley recite at the Belfast Festival. Such a refreshing antidote to the hatred and drivel one usually reads here and which, to my shame, I often engage.

    Seamus Heaney was supposed to have hosted that night, but had been taken ill. What a night it could have been, but what a night it still was. It will not surprise you to learn that the latters work is regarded as “horrific” in some quarters. Lest I digress…

    Thanks again.

    Sincerely,
    J

  • runciter

    That computes with Greenflag’s original guessimate of 2% of the population being of a murderous ilk.

    Except that Greenflag was attempting to estimate the number of people who had actually committed murder, not the number of people of a “murderous ilk”.

    I think you are letting prejudice cloud your thinking.

  • Garibaldy

    Also it would have to be 30,000 at the same time as opposed to over naerly 40 years.

  • susan

    Jo! Don’t thank me, thank pmj, Pete Baker, and above all Longley. All I did was try to drag the thread back a little towards its origins, with no effect. Until now.

    I envy your time at the Festival — I’ve heard Heaney read in person a fair few times, in venues large and small, but never Longley. This thread reminded me of his poem “Wounds” — actually, I don’t read poetry either as frequently or as fervently as I once did, and I was trying to remember if I was recalling a phrase from “Wounds” or “In Memoriam.’

    Anyway, Jo, in looking up “Wounds” to reread it I stumbled on an interview with Longley that was a good antidote to the smugness and capriciousness of a lot of comments that can make Slugger such a poisoned chalice if you take them too seriously.

    so here, Jo, for you, I once again present, Michael Longley —

    “At the age of 16 my father had enlisted in 1914, one of thousands queing up outside Buckingham Palace. He joined the London Scottish by mistake, wearing an unwarranted kilt…He recalled the lice, the rats, the mud, the tedium, the terror.

    Somehow, my father’s existence, and his experience, the stories he passed on to me, gave me a kind of taproot into the war.

    We are inclined to forget that a lot of people involved (in the Troubles) who are under 25 and even teenagers haven’t known any other political circumstance except civil unrest. So it seems important to me to think oneself into their shoes, as it were, and to imagine how one can be so brainwashed or so angry or in a sense perhaps even so innocent that one can drive in a car and go into somebody’s house and shoot that person stone dead.

    …I do believe that poetry is about all of those things that happened to people and war is one of the most huge and one of the most horrible things that happens to millions of people.

    Though the poet’s first duty must be to his imagination, he has other obligations – and not just as a citizen. He would be inhuman if he did not respond to tragic events in his own community, and a poor artist if he did not seek to endorse that response imaginatively… In the context of political violence the deployment of words at their most precise and suggestive remains one of the few antidotes to death-dealing dishonesty.

    When I wrote the last two lines of “Wounds” (“To the children, to a bewildered wife / I think ‘Sorry Missus’ was what he said.”) I was empathising with the paramilitary killer. Marie Heaney told me the awful story. I had been wondering for some time what my father, an old soldier and an old-fashioned patriot, would have had to say about the Troubles. Marie’s story sparked off the poem and released my memories of my father’s memories of the trenches.”

  • susan
  • Dewi

    Wonderful site Susan. School must be a lot more fun these days….. I’m going to try out the junior level Gaelic teching resource.

  • Greenflag

    Runciter, Dave , Garibaldi,

    You’re all bright lads -enough now and back to Susan’s poetry and the happy clapping feel good muti cultural multi identity simplicities of well heeled or moth eaten academia 🙂

    Although not much for the poetry here are two pieces one a nice piece for those in multi identi/cultural mode and the other for ‘melancholy ‘ bastards like meself 🙂

    Dublin made me , not the secret poteen still
    The raw and hungry hills of the West
    The lean road flung over profitless bog
    Where only a snipe could rest .

    Where the sea takes it’s tithe of every boat .
    Bawneen and currach have no allegiance of mine ,
    Nor the cute self deceiving talkers of the South
    Who look to the East for a sign

    The soft and dreary midlands with their tame canals .
    Wallow betwen sea and sea , remote from adventure ,
    And Northward a far and fortified province
    Crouches under the lash of arid censure .

    I disclaim all fertile meadows , all tilled land
    The evil that grows from it and the good ,
    But the Dublin of old statues , this arrogant city ,
    Sits proudly and secretly in my blood

    (Donagh McDonagh)

    The glass is falling hour by hour
    The glass will fall for ever
    But if you break the bloody glass
    You won’t hold up the weather

    (Louis MacNiece)

  • susan

    “the happy clapping feel good muti cultural multi identity simplicities of well heeled or moth eaten academia :)’

    Greenflag, in the undying words of Aeschylus: Would yez feck off, yez feckin fecker?

    There, I feel better now. ;o) Many thanks for the McDonagh. isn’t the MacNiece a fragment from “Bagpipe Music”? I could look it up, but isn’t putting a fragment of a poet’s work up and not indicating it is a fragment kind of like putting nude pictures of someone on the internet without their permission?

    Dewi, see what happens to poetry threads when you don’t show soon enough? Speaking of ‘paddy’s perambulations,” here’s a fragment just for you —

    from “The Two Monks,” by Gearóid Mac Lochlainn

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=f6r0uXBGJz8

  • Jo

    Susan

    On thread. Hearing Michael L read that live was extremely moving. He has such great intonation (it was his own writing after all!) and the succinct sentiments and the transcendental meaning reverberated after the words were spoken, if you know what I mean.

    Of course I have heard him on radio, TV etc. Rarely have such things moved me. Heaney’s “Cure at Troy” etc was good, but over long and only some parts are repeated, ad nauseum, to the loss of all of us. But the image of forgiveness, in the deepest of pain, to the betterment of ALL, is truly, Christian, truly human, truly what makes better women and men of all of us. Despite those who claim the *robe* you, I and others know where the truth and the love lies. And for that, I thank you, Susan, for reminding me and others of the value of this site.

    Sincerely,
    J

  • Jo

    I think it might have been Demosthenes who said you couldnt step into the same river twice.

    I wish to feck manys a one would step in the Lagan/Foyle/Bann at full spate. Sadly, given the reality of climate change, none of the previous would do more than wash the feet of those who most need it 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘undying words of Aeschylus’

    Aeschylus ? Daedalus ? Now where did I hear that name mentioned ? ah yes

    ‘The girls today in society go for classical poetry
    So to win their hearts one must quote with ease
    Aeschylus and Euripides
    One must know Homer, and believe me, Beau
    Sophocles, also Sappho-ho
    Unless you know Shelley and Keats and Pope
    Dainty Debbies will call you a dope

    But the poet of them all
    Who will start ’em simply ravin’
    Is the poet people call
    The Bard of Stratford on Avon

    {Refrain}
    Brush up your Shakespeare
    Start quoting him now
    Brush up your Shakespeare
    And the women you will wow

    ‘isn’t the MacNiece a fragment from “Bagpipe Music”? ‘

    That it is . You have to listen to Bob Geldof reciting the whole of Bagpipe Music to really get the pissed off theme therein to perfection 🙂

    ‘kind of like putting nude pictures of someone on the internet without their permission? ‘

    No . GF would not do this even with their permission .

    ‘Would yez feck off, yez feckin fecker’

    Good alliteration with just the right amount of polite invective to make your point .:)

    .

  • susan

    Jo, thank you so much for your description of the reading at the Festival. The moment must have been extraordinary.

    Greenflag
    “Good alliteration with just the right amount of polite invective to make your point .:)’

    as runciter might say, ‘you’re welcome’ :o)

    I actually do have Geldof’s reading on cd and on my computer, thanks to my friend and fellow insomniac Tricia, who sent me that multivolume, multi-cd “Voices and Poetry of Ireland’ project. There’s so many jewels on there, I highly recommend it to slugger’s other sufferers from chronic insomnia — much better for you late at night than wandering into the wrong slugger thread at 3 a.m.

    And you are right, Geldof does an excellent job of it. For a dub.

    I guess Elton John was unavailable.

    ;o)