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The Emigrant's Letter (mild content warning)


dedalus
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I left Ireland, not in the least unwillingly,

First at the canter and then at the gallop,

Not for boring blah-blah economic reasons,

No, to get away from the women! Hang about,

And you’d end up married to one of them!

Look at my cousins. Look at everybody! Well, don’t.

If it’s cash you’re after you’d still go to America.

Capitalism on the hoof: Hong Kong with English only,

And all you need is to play golf and be White,

Thump your chest and say, God’s Own Country!

They’re such heaving hypocrites, they’ll never never

Call your bluff. It’s a fuckin doddle, so it is.

Downside is, they’re always having a war on the go,

Which is how the real money comes rolling in.

But never never never go on the fiddle with taxes.

Pay them off and they’ll leave you blissfully alone.

It’s so simple, dear God, it’s almost a crime.

Me, I went to Japan. Are you cracked or what?

I remember being asked that, almost continuously,

By tubby balding idiots with spritely Irish wives.

Spritely. Sweet weeping Jesus. Assay a bashful grin,

Nibble at the rock-hard scone, don’t spit out the tea,

And hope the pubs stays open. Some pub is always open.

Think of Osaka. Think of Yasuko and Sanae, Michiko,

Akane, Sachiko, Rie, Rieko, Masako, Mari, Tomoko, Tomoe!

You can get a hard-on just from reciting their names.

So svelte and slim, so smooth-skinned, so non-Catholic!

So entirely free from sin. Sin? We say bad manner.

You should come back home, boy, and settle down!

Get away from me, yeh baldy fuckin clown,

I can think of three hundred reasons and more

For leaving Dublin Town.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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As usual Brendan, your words flow like honey. The vitriol that accompanies it is a bit harsh but appropriate for the rant. Being American, catholic, white and female, I of course was a bit saddened by your perspective. :rolleyes: Funny my response was immediate even before you villified my country and my religion. Your piece offers an interesting perspective although it doesn't sound like the choice made provided much of a solution to the discontent other than to point to a preference for Asian women who can be found all over the world, even in Ireland.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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You could be misreading this poem. This is not a rant against Ireland (even if the women are as tough as nails, which they are), nor is it a rant against America (total caricature) nor is it it a rant against the ethical -- if not theological -- teachings of the Catholic Church. What I am saying is that we are always being told what to do all the time and it is a liberating experience to come across a culture that is totally free of this kind of indoctrination. The women of Japan are entirely shrewd and do not go in for loose liaisons, but they don't have the sense of sin and fear of good Catholic girls who went to school with the nuns. The poem is (trying to) work on different levels. Ireland is stifling, get out! This is the beginning. It was true in the 60s and 70s. Not only because of the sexual divide (marry or else) but it was so small and provincial. Where do the Irish go? America. When they get to America, what do they do? Live among the other Irish. The lads don't go to Mass on Sundays. Oh, God, rebellion! They won't go out with a Jewish girl. They don't know any blacks ... Afro-Americans. They might have a date with a Protestant girl but they won't tell their parents. The girls are less free than their brothers. This is what bothers me, OK?

 

In this poem I'm lashing out against this tribal mentality. I'm saying -- to the Irish, mind you -- fuck America (jaw-dropping statement), isn't it much more fun in Japan? You can go out with all these girls ... list of names ... and have a great time (with the suggestion of a bit of sex along the way) and you don't have to feel bad about it. Guilt is gone. A weight comes off your shoulders. You are free for the first time in your life.

 

It's not a great poem. I know that. I'm just saying things that I think need to be said.

 

Slán anois, mo chara!!

Breandáin

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Hi Brendan, I put a smiley face in my reply... I didn't take as much offense as it might have suggested in my post. In fact I wasn't really offended, I was teasing. But of course I had to jab back a bit and defend the faith. I have granddaughters in catholic school.

 

I got it, maybe not to the extent your response expanded upon but I love your writing and I couldn't believe the piece went unresponded to as long as it has.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Well, I'm glad you can take this piece with a pinch of salt (or cayenne pepper). What is it they say about prophets unheralded in their own country? Some of the Irish would have cheerfully torn me apart for this, limb from limb, say about twenty years ago. The country has completely changed since I was a teenager and thank God for that! I mean, the girls wouldn't even kiss you without going to Confession for their "sin" the following Friday. As for anything further, forget it. Not quite Taliban but close enough. Even the UK was an improvement back then, not to mention America. Japan just blew my tiny Jansenist mind. I loved the place. Still do. Ireland was like your grandmother back then. Duty. Honour. Endless obligations. The IRA. Go out and get shot. Wrap the green flag around me as you lower me into my patriot's grave, etc. A total turn-off when you're into girls and rock'n'roll! Don't mean to scandalize the grandkids, but you must know what I'm getting at.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Diverse, polemic, pragmatic, uncompromising. The world is a very large pot to stir with this small ladle. People have fled repression since history began; be it political, theological or personal. Ireland has a population of around 4 millions: one in five can speak Gaelic and only one in twenty speak it daily. It is still regarded by many as a stagnant land of Little Endians and Big Endians. Words like 'insular' and 'parochial' which are not too far removed from 'racism' and 'bigotry', were put in a big bag with all their synonyms and violently shaken up on 9/11. Other major events since then have made people all over the world take on a different perspective, something other than their own backyard. Benjamin

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Tá mé aon smaoineamh soiléir cad tá tú ag iarraidh a rá, mo chara, ach fágann an ton ar do theanga dom le mothú nach bhfuil sásúil ar fad.

It might be wiser in the future not to fall back on generalisations. This is not a translation of the Irish comment above.

 

Slán agus beannacht,

(Is Mise le Meas)

Breandáin

 

PS. Leaving formality behind, Ben, nobody picked up on the provocative and outrageous comments I made about the Jews (and the Irish) under the lap of your recent poem, "Juden".

People don't want to know, I suppose. It has been nearly 70 years. But then there's the question of the "meaning" of Israel. Maybe better not to get into THAT discussion!

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Thanks for your polite response Brendan

A little more clearly then: it was my round about way of saying, some opinions (both of nations and individuals) can appear pedantic and selfish in this rapidly changing world. Re: the poems. People do 'pick up' on things even if they don't always pass comment. Regards, Ben

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This poem is indeed, Bren's child :D. Even if your name is not signed upon I, would know that you wrote it. I just have a smile on my face, while reading this poem and, the conversation bellow. From my perspective from my side of the world, it looks so different, all that matter you guys talk about. :P

 

I loved the way how you have embroider this poem.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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I always enjoy your poems because they represent a consistent personality, tone, vocabulary and specificity that allows me to look at things from a different perspective I have never looked at before. In a Catholic country like the Philippines, though I am not Catholic, these religious pretensions are all superficial. The young don't really care about religion. And the young lovers do as they please. Control rather than intelligent direction lead the young to break the rules for the thrill of it. Your poem is a perfect articulation of it.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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