As we celebrate Poetry Day Ireland today, the country is in lockdown, life as we have known it has changed beyond recognition, and the future is full of uncertainty and anxiety.
So many of us are looking to delve into books to escape our bleak reality, finding solace in the words of novelists and poets. One such poet, described as ‘one of the last of the tribal bards, a poet in and of his own kind’ is Gabriel Fitzmaurice.
A great character of the Irish arts, he has shown a knack for expressing feelings and emotions we have all felt at one point of time or another.
And one thing this island misses is going to the pub with friends and family, kicking back your feet and enjoying a pint of Guinness.
Well, here is the Bard’s ode to the pint!
Ode to a Pint of Guinness
‘An Buachaill Caol Dubh’, ‘The Blonde in the Black Skirt’ –
You have given me life which I’d never have known,
For I was the shy one, inward and lonesome,
Fearful of people the years I was growing.
You came to me first in the years I was courting –
No girl would stay with me on lemonade;
You gave me fine words and a high reputation
For romance and laughter. At last I was made!
You came to me sad and you came to me happy –
There were parts of myself that lay unexplored,
But thanks to you, Guinness, there’s nothing within us
That doesn’t come out in thought, deed or word.
There are two kinds of truth, one drunk and one sober –
The ancient Egyptians knew this very well;
Before they’d pronounce, they’d examine it both ways –
The kind of good counsel I’d bottle and sell.
How different my life would be measured without you –
An egghead, I fear, with his nose in a book;
But now I can scan the pulse of my people
And the scholars will read it to get one last look
At the village before it has lost its own story,
The last place on earth for the wild and the free,
Ere we turn to designer beers, Beautiful Bodies!,
And we speak like bad actors speak on TV.
So here’s to you, Guinness, muse and confuser –
You brought me to visions, you brought me to fart:
All the pain that you caused me was nothing at all, love,
To the knowledge you taught to this once-sober heart!
An Buachaill Caol Dubh: (Irish) ‘The Dark Slender Boy’, a synonym for alcohol from the song of the same name by Seán Aerach Ó Seanacháin (mid 18th Century).
A Farewell to Poetry: Selected Poems and Translations by Gabriel Fitzmaurice is available here.
Also available as an e-book.