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Poetry Magnum Opus

Réimse beag glas (the little green field)


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Five thousand feckin years if it’s a day

and would yeh look at them cows, shitting,

bedamn, on the same old lumpy grass.


They do be your fields now, Donal Óg,

and your dear departed father’s before you

although the oul granddad wouldn’t have had


tuppence three farthing to rub together,

God between us and harm, and the wife

with a tongue on her that could slice lemons.


You’ll be speaking of me Daddy’s mam?

Ahh, sure, what if I am, Donal my dear,

and she the pride of all five counties?


You’ll be careful now in your choice of words.

I will of course. I will indeed. Would you

look over beyond now at Tim Daly’s tree


where the rooks, unclean birds, do be rising

with the harsh rattling call of their kind,

it’s as though they remember the day.


They were there themselves on the day

or their grandsires surely, swooping down

on the men in the boots and red coats


as young Timmy Daly swung from the bough

with the blessings and thanks of Farmer George,

that fat bloated king of the English.


That day is long gone, Donal Óg,

as we live in the comfort of a difficult peace.

There should be some thought of our children.


Boy children grow up to be men

and the girls grow up to give birth to men:

I fear this business will never be finished.


It is anger and memory that disturbs your soul,

mo chara, mo fear álainn. Sit thee down. Turn

away from this strange and bitter mystery.


There is peace in the land, mo buachaill ghile,

where the cows are patriotic Irish cows,

dropping their Irish dung on Irish fields.


But there are caves and caverns beneath

where the unsung dead cry out for vengeance

and you can hear them in your dreams!


I can hear them clearly, Donal mo chara,

had I a mind to listen, which I do not advise,

for they would lead us on to fear and madness.


Ours is a green and lovely land

carried to the brink of its own destruction

by sióga dona, by the ghosts of history.


Donal, Donal, put your eyes

on the field . Good man yerself.

Put your eyes on the cows. Put your


mind in their minds, was it five thousand

years you said? Aye, that was the figure,

with five thousand more on the way.



Glossary of Irish terms:


Donal Óg -- young Donal, lit. Donal the Young.

mo chara, mo fear álainn -- my friend, my lovely man.

mo buachaill ghile -- my gallant boy.

sióga dona -- evil spirits.

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

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