Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

May the devil write your obituary in weasel’s piss. –old Irish curse

Hold on — how did that get there? Either the devil made me do it, or me computer is up to no good (which wouldn’t be the first time). To be sure, me fine lads and lassies, this post is about curses in verses, but a curse alone does not a poem make. As for that derelict curse above, there are no weasels in Ireland unless you count the sloat (which is often mistaken for a weasel) or the lowly human (which often acts like a weasel, but technically is not).

Be that as it may, I haven’t got all (St. Patrick’s) day, so let’s get on with it. Here is a cultivated selection of VERSES WITH CURSES which, not least among its Hibernian virtues, could serve to show America’s petulant President how to insult his inferiors with a bit more savoir fairy (class, in plain English) than is typical in his limited vocabulary:

THE CURSE by John Millington Synge

Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.

Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I’m your servant, J. M. Synge.

from THE CURSE OF DONERAILE by Patrick O’Kelly

Alas! how dismal is my tale,
I lost my watch in Doneraile.
My Dublin watch, my chain and seal,
Pilfered at once in Doneraile.
May Fire and Brimstone never fail,
To fall in showers on Doneraile.
May all the leading fiends assail
The thieving town of Doneraile,
As lightnings flash across the vale,
So down to Hell with Doneraile.
The fate of Pompey at Pharsale,
Be that the curse of Doneraile.
May beef, or mutton, lamb or veal
Be never found in Doneraile,
But garlic soup and scurvy kale
Be still the food of Doneraile.
And forward as the creeping snail,
Th’ industry be, of Doneraile.
May ev’ry churn and milking pail
Fall dry to staves in Doneraile.
May cold and hunger still congeal
The stagnant blood of Doneraile.
May ev’ry hour new woes reveal
That Hell reserves for Doneraile.
May ev’ry chosen ill prevail
O’er all the imps of Doneraile.
May not one prayer or wish avail
To sooth the woes of Doneraile.
May the Inquisition straight impale
The rapparees of Doneraile.
May curse of Sodom now prevail
And sink to ashes Doneraile.
May Charon’s Boat triumphant sail
Completely manned from Doneraile.
Oh! may my couplets never fail
To find new curse for Doneraile.
And may grim Pluto’s inner jail
Forever groan with Doneraile.

RIGHTEOUS ANGER by James Stephens

The lanky hank of a she over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked on me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master, he’d give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.


And so we can see, Donald T.,
What the problem may well be:
In your entire immigrant ancestry,
Of Irish blood, you’re entirely free.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, luckily,
Every man is an Irishman, glory be!
So depart for today from your family tree,
Uproot this curse, branch out, and be free!

From ass act to class act, verily
This very day, you can transformed be….
Therefore, by virtue of the Irish in me,
I dub thee, please God, President Donald O’T.





“Would you explain your writing to me?”
“Certainly — I write what I see.”

“So, what you see is what you say?”
“In my mind, I see it that way.”

“But things aren’t always what they seem.”
“In that case, I write what I dream.”

“Pray, how to tell the two apart?”
“Some might say, therein’s the art.”

“Then, that’s the art — to part the two?”
“No, that’s the part that’s up to you.”

“Up to me? But you’re the writer!”
“Truth be told, aren’t you the decider?”



[Composer Richard] Rodgers was particularly annoyed by what seemed to him Hammerstein’s dilatory attitude when it came to writing lyrics. So his way of dealing with the situation would be to punish his partner with silence when the long-awaited lyrics finally arrived. One of the most difficult songs Hammerstein ever wrote was “Hello, Young Lovers,” a poignant musing about a past love that is one of the high points of THE KING AND I. It took him five weeks of struggle, but he eventually had something he felt proud of. He sent the lyrics by special messenger to Rodgers, with instructions to wait for an answer, but no answer came. After four days, Rodgers called on another matter and, at the very end, said that, by the way, the lyrics were fine. Then he hung up. They were four of the most painful days of Hammerstein’s life. –from SOMEWHERE FOR ME, A BIOGRAPHY OF RICHARD RODGERS, by Meryle Secrest

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Of all the pre-R&R songs in popular music with “Hello” in the title, no doubt the one with the most staying power has been Rodgers and Hammerstein’s HELLO, YOUNG LOVERS. Thus, it is with that evergreen that we begin this selection of “Hello” songs:

Next, we turn from ever green to avian blue:

We close with a question (or two or three) for all you lovely ladies out there (but you must play the song to hear the questions):


I have never been able to discover anything disgraceful in being a colored man. But I have often found it inconvenient. –Bert Williams

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Yesterday marked the 96th anniversary of the death of the great “colored” comedian Bert Williams, whose humorous 1920 song I WANT TO KNOW WHERE TOSTI WENT (WHEN HE SAID GOODBYE) appeared in my last post. You can learn a bit more about this pioneering black entertainer in the racist America of the late 1800s/early 1900s by clicking here:

To commemorate the anniversary of the day Bert Williams said “Goodbye forever,” I thought I would extend that post’s theme with a curtain call of several later “goodbye” songs from America’s Golden Age of Popular Music (if not yet America’s Golden Age of race relations). Just a little something to keep in mind, every time we say goodbye (courtesy of Cole Porter):

So, what’s good about goodbye? I’m glad you asked (courtesy of Harold Arlen):

Perhaps next post, I’ll transition into some ‘hello’ songs. It would help the transfiguration if I could put this song title in reverse:

P.S. The first several readers of this post may have been confused by changes made in the last clip after I posted it. What I initially thought was a clip of another vocalist singing “Hello, My Lover, Goodbye” turned out to be in error, so, left with few choices, I hastily tried to switch to a clip of Doris Day (NOT one of my favorite vocalists) singing the song. After a few ‘haste-makes-waste’ starts, I made the substitution, but probably left a few of you wondering if I hadn’t said goodbye to my mind. But all’s well that ends well (I hope).



AUF WIEDERSEHEN (German): until we meet again, a temporary farewell or goodbye

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In a comment to my last post, I included a clip of a great German vocal group singing AUF WIEDERSEH’N, MY DEAR (a 1932 composition by American songwriters, not to be confused with AUF WIEDERSEH’N, SWEETHEART, a song which was a hit in 1952).

As it happens, there are a number of “goodbye” songs, but some are more extreme than others. For example, the Italian composer Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) wrote a famous (in his day) song titled GOODBYE, in which that word appears ten times, including five times in the last two lines:

What are we waiting for, you and I?
A pleading look, a stifled cry.
Goodbye, forever! Goodbye, forever!
Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!

Bye and bye, such an effusive edict of terminal temerity caused famed black vaudeville comedian Bert Williams no end of alarm:

And then, amigo mio, there’s the Spanish word for goodbye, which has a more soothing sound….unless you happen to be a gringo facing a bandito….

….which would be enough to give anyone the….

THE END (but comments are open, if you have any final thoughts).


There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough. –Irwin Shaw, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and author of Bury The Dead

The dead have spoken….
but the living have moved on.
Hear their voices left in your mind,
keep their memories in the images
that are reborn in shared solitude.
Who among us has not known the haunting fear,
whispering we might not survive the silence?