VERSES WITH CURSES

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.

THE CURSE OF NOT BEING IRISH by mister O’muse

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.

 

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YOU CAN NEVER BE IRISH EEN-OUGH

If you’re lucky enough to be Irish….you’re lucky enough! —Irish proverb

On St. Patrick’s Day, every man is an Irishman — if you disagree, get out of me sight and don’t come back until tomorrow! Besides, today me mind is not on Irish men, but on Irish lasses — coleens (or colleens), a word of Gaelic origin — specifically, coleens whose first name ends in een, as does me wife’s (Maureen).

One of the most famous Maureens is Irish-born Maureen O’Hara, the lovely red-headed actress who co-starred in my favorite John Wayne movie, THE QUIET MAN. This Academy Award-winning film, directed by Irish-born John Ford, is set in the fictional Irish village of Innisfree (the ending word in my last post SANCTUARY, from Wm. Butler Yeats’ poem LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE).

To me, the most Irish-sounding girl’s first name ending in een is Pegeen, a name I first heard of in Irish playwright John Millington Synge’s great THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, a wickedly funny play (later filmed in 1962) which, at its first performance in Dublin in 1907, caused a riot. Synge’s contemporary, W.B. Yeats, later wrote of the play, “It is never played before any Irish audience for the first time without something or other being flung at the players.” Pegeen is the name of the village barmaid, the heroine with “the divil’s own temper,” who is courted — and lost — by Christy Mahon, the “Playboy of the Western World.”

Another Irish een name I am fond of is Kathleen, heard in several Irish ballads, including KATHLEEN MAVOURNEEN and the beautifully poignant I’LL TAKE YOU HOME AGAIN, KATHLEEN:

Happy March seventeen!

DON’T BLAME ME — I’M IRISH (PART FOUR)

I contemplated concluding this four-part series with thoughts and reminisences on my tour of the Emerald Isle some thirty years ago, but I have so many fond memories that I lack the time, and perhaps the words, to do them justice. Besides, recounting personal vacation trips is a dubious proposition of boring potential at best, so I’ll spare you (and me) the task, and go instead with a few swigs of St. Patrick’s Day trivia and a wee bit of Irish Lit, writ and wit.

Let’s start with St. Patrick himself. One might assume that St. Patricks Day is celebrated on March 17 because that’s his birthday, but in fact, his exact birth date is unknown. March 17 is the day he died (in the year 461).

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in NYC on March 17, 1762. For more on this and other things Irish, click on these short video clips:

http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/videos/nyc

As for Irish Lit, one of the earliest surviving manuscripts is the painstakingly crafted and astonishingly beautiful Book of Kells (circa 800), which I had the pleasure of viewing at Dublin’s Trinity College Library. See for yourself at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells

Ireland, of course, has produced some of the greatest satirists and masterpieces of wit in history, including Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest), George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion, on which My Fair Lady is based), and John Millington Synge (The Playboy of the Western World). Excellent movies (and some not-so-excellent re-makes) have been made of all, and I close with a quote or a clip from each:

The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his God, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.  –Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eymdx4xomM  –The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=EADz07k_wXU  –Pygmalion (1938)

…if it’s a poor thing to be lonesome, it’s worse maybe to go mixing with the fools of earth.  –The Playboy of the Western World (1962)

May this St. Patrick’s Day find you neither lonesome nor with the fools of earth.

DON’T BLAME ME — I’M IRISH (PART TWO)

For day two of our St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we turn to Irish toasts and proverbs. Given the Irishman’s fondness for a wee nip now and then and again, one would expect there to be no shortage of the former, and as for the latter, well, no doubt many an Irish proverb was born of a toast, after more or less sober reflection. In any case….

Everyone is wise till he speaks.

As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

If you don’t know the way, walk slowly.

Long life to you, a wet mouth, and may you die in Ireland.

May misfortune follow you the rest of your life and never catch up.

If you want praise, die. If you want blame, marry.

Leprechans, castles, good luck and laughter.
Lullabies, dreams and love ever after.

If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!

May your glass be ever full.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Two days down the hatch and tumor to go (sorry, couldn’t resist). For day three, I’ll get dressed in me Sunday best and request ye be my guest for Part Three.

DON’T BLAME ME — I’M IRISH (PART ONE)

May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coins in your pocket to buy a pint.  –Irish proverb

St. Patrick’s Day may still be four days away (including today), but bein’ even one part (1/4th) Irish is enough for me to question squeezing a bottomless pit (not to be confused with a bottomless pint) of Irish blarney into a single day. So don’t be blaming me for expanding the celebration and getting an early start — and may the good Lord forgive the three out me four grandparents who weren’t born in Ireland.

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How did the Irish Jig get started?
Too much to drink and not enough restrooms.

A drunk staggers into a Dublin church , enters a confessional and sits down, but says nothing. The Priest coughs to get his attention, but the drunk continues to sit there without a word. Finally, the Priest pounds on the wall three times.
The drunk mumbles, “Ain’t no use knockin’, there’s no paper on this side either.”

What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral? One less drunk at the party.

Pat and Mike have been drinking buddies for years. One day Pat says to Mike, “We’ve been friends for years and, if I die first, would ye do me a favor — get the best bottle of Irish whiskey and pour it over me grave.”
Mike replies, “I would be glad to do that for ye, old friend, but would ye mind if I pass it through me bladder first?”

Time out for a cold one. Part two tomorrow.