When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting "Damn your soul!"
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel -
"Here is the march along these iron stones."
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer's ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.
With a red-headed whore,
And the fan-light gone in
Where it lights the hall-door;
And listen each night
For her querulous shout,
As at last she streels in
And the pubs empty out.
To soothe that wild breast
With my old-fangled songs,
Till she feels it redressed
From inordinate wrongs,
Till peace at last comes,
Shall be all I will do,
Where the little lamp blooms
Like a rose in the stew;
And up the back-garden
The sound comes to me
Of the lapsing, unsoilable,
From the road: one risked a fine, but had to pay
The normal fee if cows were serviced there.
Once I dragged a nervous Friesian on a tether
Down a lane of alder, shaggy with catkin,
Down to the shed the bull was kept in.
I gave Old Kelly the clammy silver, though why
I could not guess. He grunted a curt "Go by.
Get up on that gate." and from my lofty station
I watched the businesslike conception.
The door, unbolted, whacked back against the wall.
The illegal sire fumbled from his stall
Unhurried as an old steam engine shunting.
He circled, snored, and nosed. No hectic panting,
Just the unfussy ease of a good tradesman;
Then an awkward unexpected jump, and
His knobbled forelegs straddling her flank,
He slammed life home, impassive as a tank.
Dropping off like a tipped-up load of sand.
“She‟ll do,” said Kelly and tapped his ash-plant
Across her hindquarters. “If not, bring her back.”
I walked ahead of her, the rope now slack
While Kelly whooped and prodded his outlaw
Who, in his own time, resumed the dark, the straw.