Poetry & Songs

'Verses occasioned by the sudden drying up of the St. Patrick’s well near Trinity College, Dublin'
          By holy zeal inspired, and led by fame,
To thee, once favourite isle, with joy I came;
What time the Goth, the Vandal, and the Hun,
Had my own native Italy o'errun.
Ierne, to the world's remotest parts,
Renowned for valour, policy and arts.
          Hither from Colchus, with the fleecy ore,
Jason arrived two thousand years before.
Thee, happy island, Pallas called her own,
When haughty Britain was a land unknown.
From thee, with pride, the Caledonians trace
The glorious founder of their kingly race:
Thy martial sons, whom now they dare despise,
Did once their land subdue and civilize:
Their dress, their language, and the Scottish name,
Confess the soil from whence the victors came.
Well may they boast that ancient blood, which runs
Within their veins, who are thy younger sons,
A conquest and a colony from thee,
The mother-kingdom left her children free;
From thee no mark of slavery they felt,
Not so with thee thy base invaders dealt;
Invited here to vengeful Morough's aid,
Those whom they could not conquer they betrayed
Britain, by thee we fell, ungrateful isle!
Not by thy valour, but superior guile:
Britain, with shame confess, this land of mine
First taught thee human knowledge and divine
My prelates and my students, sent from hence.
Made your sons converts both to God and sense:
Not like the pastors of thy ravenous breed,
Who come to fleece the flocks, and not to feed.
          Wretched Ierne! with what grief I see
The fatal changes time hath made in thee.
The Christian rites I introduced in vain:
Lo! Infidelity returned again.
Freedom and Virtue in thy sons I found,
Who now in Vice and Slavery are drowned.
          By faith and prayer, this crozier in my hand,
I drove the venomed serpent from thy land;
The shepherd in his bower might sleep or sing,
Nor dread the adder's tooth, nor scorpion's sting.
          With omens oft I strove to warn thy swains,
Omens, the types of thy impending chains.
I sent the magpie from the British soil,
Wirh restless beak thy blooming fruit to spoil,
To din thine ears with unharmonious clack,
And haunt thy holy walls in white and black.
What else are those thou seest in bishop's gear
who crop the nurseries of learning here?
Aspiring, greedy, full of senseless prate,
Devour the church, and chatter to the state.
          As you grew more degenerate and base,
I sent you millions of the croaking race; .
Emblems of insects vile, who spread their spawn
Through all thy land, in armour, fur and lawn,
A nauseous brood, that fills your senate walls,
And in the chambers of your Viceroy crawls.
          See, where the new-devouring vermin runs,
Sent in anger from the land of Huns;
With harpy claws it undermines the ground,
And sudden spreads numerous offspring round
The amphibious tyrant, with his ravenous hand,
Drains all thy lakes of fish, of fruits thy land.
          Where is the sacred well, that bore my name?
Fled to the fountain back, from whence it came!
Fair Freedom's emblem once, which smoothly flows
And blessings equally on all bestows.
Here, from the neighbouring nursery of arts,
The students drinking, raised their wit and parts;
Here, for an age and more, improved their vein,
Their Phoebus I, my spring their Hippocrene.
Discouraged youths, now all their hopes must fail,
Condemned to country cottages and ale;
To foreign prelates make a slavish court,
And by their sweat procure a mean support;
Or, for the classics read the attorney's guide;
Collect excise, or wait upon the tide.
          O! had I been apostle to the Swiss,
Or hardy Scot, or any land but this;
Combined in arms, they had their foes defied,
And kept their liberty, or bravely died.
Thou still with tyrants in succession cursed,
The last invaders trampling on the firsts;
Nor fondly hope for some reverse of fate,
Virtue herself would now return too late.
Not half thy course of misery is run,
Thy greatest evils yet are scarce begun.
Soon shall thy sons, the time is just at hand,
Be all made captives in their native land;
When, for the use of no Hibernian born
Shall rise one blade of grass, one ear of corn;
When shells and leather shall for money pass,
Nor thy oppressing lords afford thee brass.
But all turn leasers to that mongrel breed,
Who from thee sprung, yet on Ay vitals feed;
Who to yon ravenous isle thy treasures beat;
And waste in luxury thy harvests there;
For pride and ignorance a proverb grown,
The jest of wits, and to the courts unknown.
I scorn thy spurious and degenerate line,
And from this hour my patronage resign.

~ Jonathan Swift

Dublin Castle
An image blurring in its menacing secrecy
Cold stone, dripping fresh rain from above - the castle’s sky
With every wash, more filth surfaces.
Rising in this place, as the ascendency.

For, I have always seen it, through the black and white
Of a past page, two words written with a trembling clasp;
Under, the castle is deluged. Deluged with ‘traitors’. 
Men who were made to wear the devil’s mask. 

Mocked for the wrongs, they thought rights. 
Two colours appear different in diverging eyes 
The castle. Dublin. Ireland. Éire. A Kingdom of… 
Servants, sinners, stones and our helpful spies. 

A place of high standing - It touches the sky.
Not piercingly, but as a plague, an infection.
A knife is easily removed, and replaced. 
But it seeps, and all are under our subjection 

It owns the sky; sky around it, around this island.
Overcast, stalking closer to those people there.
Storms and tumults to evict their warmth
Rains, winds; a bittering, biting, breaking air.

Torture’s echoes captured in this courtyard
Do chill each footfall that is caste
With the chocked last words of scandal
From martyrs now at last de-masked.

~ Garbhán Ó Ruis 
You are more than welcome to contact me for the analysis of the poem.

We Saw a Vision
In the darkness of despair we saw a vision,
We lit the light of hope and it was not extinguished.
In the desert of discouragement we saw a vision.
We planted the tree of valour and it blossomed.
In the winter of bondage we saw a vision.
We melted the snow of lethargy and the river of resurrection flowed from it.
We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river. The vision became a reality.
Winter became summer. Bondage became freedom and this we left to you as your inheritance.
O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision.
~ Liam Mac Uistin

Liam Mac Uistin won a poetry contest in 1976. The contest was to determine which poem could best express the struggle for Irish freedom over the centuries. This poem has thenceforth been engraved in stone in The Garden of Remembrance, Dublin.

Missing You
In nineteen hundred and eighty six
There's not much for a chippie but swinging a pick
And you can't live on love, on love alone
So you sail cross the ocean, away cross the foam

To where you're a Paddy, a Biddy or a Mick
Good for nothing but stacking a brick
Your best mate's a spade and he carries a hod
Two work horses heavily shod

Oh I'm missing you
I'd give all for the price of a flight
Oh I'm missing you
under Piccadilly's neon

Who did you murder, are you a spy?
I'm just fond of a drink helps me laugh, helps me cry
So I just drink red biddy for a permanent high
I laugh a lot less and I'll cry till I die

All ye young people now take my advice
Before crossing the ocean you'd better think twice
Cause you can't live without love, without love alone
The proof is round London in the nobody zone

Where the summer is fine, but the winter's a fridge
Wrapped up in old cardboard under Charing Cross Bridge
And I'll never go home now because of the shame
Of misfit's reflection in a shop window pane.

~ Christy Moore

Cities Carved In Stone

I lost my self, in those streets
A passenger of foreign tongue
The sun sets, in the same language
And rises just the same.
There was no grand design
To get to this point.
No absolutes, no given truths.
We were not carved in stone.
She sent the sun to heal me
She sent the moon to guide me
And when the words failed me
So she lay beside me.
Sometimes I get to thinking of the past
When I've had more than a drink or two.
Who knows where the days go
And would you ever want them back. ~ Primordial
[Lyrics: A.A. Nemtheanga]
[Music: MacUilliam and Primordial]
["That feeling when you are in another city, another town, strange and new streets and you realise you are wholly alone. Not one person around you knows you and no one knows where you stand in this world. It is these moments travelling that make me think of the past more than ever..."]

Back Home in Derry, by Bobby Sands
In 1803 we sailed out to sea
Out from the sweet town of Derry
For Australia bound if we didn't all drown
And the marks of our fetters we carried.
In the rusty iron chains we cried for our wains
As our good wives we left in sorrow.
As the main sails unfurled our curses we hurled
On the English and thoughts of tomorrow.

At the mouth of the Foyle, we bid farewell to soil
As down below decks we were lying.
O'Doherty's scream woke him out of a dream
Of a vision of bold Robert dying.
The sun burned cruel as we dished out the gruel
Dan O'Connor was down with a fever
Sixty rebels today bound for Botany Bay
How many will reach their receiver?

Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.

I cursed them to hell as our bow fought the swell.
Our ship danced like a moth in the firelights.
White horses rode high as the devil passed by
Taking souls to Hades by twilight.
Five weeks out to sea we were now forty-three
Our comrades we buried each morning.
In our own slime we were lost in a time
Of endless night without dawning.

Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.

Van Dieman's land is a hell for a man
To live out his life in slavery.
When the climate is raw and the gun makes the law.
Neither wind nor rain cares for bravery.
Twenty years have gone by and I've ended me bond
And comrades' ghosts walk behind me.
A rebel I came and I'll die the same.
On the cold winds of night you will find me
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.

~ Bobby Sands