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Poetry Magnum Opus

Fourteen Shades of Green (revision)


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One of the finest things I’ve ever seen

all across the valley so far below

and which makes me pause each time I go,

are those fourteen shades of green.


I haven’t washed for a week

as my helmet bounces on my head

and I don’t know what the sergeant said:

I never listen to that freak.


The grass is high and hides grenades

as the point man waves to put us down

so I close my eyes, see only brown:

squint away the sweat, put on my shades.


O God, I feel so fuckin weary

with little black bugs crawling in my hair

and cascades of insects everywhere:

I wish I was home in Dun Leary.


I was young, impatient, and out of pay

so I took my heart within my hands

and with a head held on with rubber bands,

left Erin for Ameri-kay.


It’s a great place if you can survive

but never go over in time of war;

we're the cannon-fodder they’re looking for

and the main thing is to stay alive!


Here’s you, boys!

Now … take my advice.

To America I’ll have you not be coming!

There is nothing here but war,

where the murdering cannons roar.

And I wish I was at home

in dear old Ireland.


Everything goes along in little bits,

but you've noticed, I suppose.

No? Never mind, it doesn’t matter.


Eight months in, only three months to go

in the worst place I have ever been

and I'll never come back, in my heart I know,

to these fourteen shades of green.



* "Paddy's Lamentation", American Civil War song:

There is another video of the same song with better (more authentic) pictures from the era:


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

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To America I’ll have you not be coming!
There is nothing here but war,

Where would 300+ million of us emigrate to? Who the h*ll would want us?


I never listen to that freak.

Loved it! :)

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An impressive and factually correct piece.. presented with your usual exemplary skill. It reminds me very much of The Pogues song, “Thousands are Sailing.” The Irish have a long history of migration which invariably meant ( dirty work ) fighting other peoples battles. The taking of the Royal Shilling for example gave birth to many traditional folk songs; and more recently we've seen some wonderful films such as ( fictional) “The Gangs of New York” woven into a tapestry of historical fact. Love the Mary Black song. Thanks. B.

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Beautiful! Hard hitting and stunning... But only 14 shades of green? Killarney must have over a thousand! (as per Franklin's poem)


Indeed agree with all the above, many thanks Bren!



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And here I thought you were going to expound on the lovely Irish greens. Enjoyed this anyway.

from the black desert

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