|Patrick Devaney has published four novels for teenagers and three for adults – his latest, Romancing Charlotte, written under the pen name Colin Scott, is now available as a paperback or e-book. His poems have appeared in Revival, Boyne Berries, The Stony Thursday Book and Crannóg.|
To an Anglo-Irish Gentleman
“O what if gardens where the peacock strays…
But take our greatness with our violence? ” W.B.YEATS
Should your ghost come here today
Would it shrink from those loud boys
Smashing hollyhocks through ignorance
Or contempt for the gardener’s pains?
Your grandfather would have seen them off,
A blast of cartridge pellets in the rear,
But you lived when that racial steel
Which won proud ancestors this place
Had softened in the aesthete’s flame.
Hiring architect and gardener,
You tumed a nondescript demesne
Into a country-house Elysium
With clipped yew hedges, pergola,
Ionic columns, stone-carved nymphs,
And here between limes and weir-tamed river
Your mansion, with a view unmarred
By farmhouse or labourer’s hovel,
Stood gazing at the peaceful hills.
Perhaps your ghost, like the lone swallow
Circling where that mansion stood,
Might breathe on those wild boys, instilling
Love of time-perfected, quiet things
Or, knowing all too well their nature,
Might bleakly smile as it recalls
How, just before the big guns spoke,
Smirks greeted your own enterprise,
Which now we strive to recreate?
We’ve set ourselves the goal of walking
Across this island to Synge’s Chair,
But since there’s not a road sign,
Nor soul from whom to ask directions,
We don’t know if we’re going astray.
Soon the boreen, flanked by chest-high walls,
Becomes a narrow path
Meandering past empty fields
Where stone-built cattle tanks are dried up husks,
Then one where goats look up, surprised.
The path ends at a gapless wall:
Ahead, wind turbines, not the chair.
“lf we don’t hurry back”, I warn,
“The ferry will have sailed away.”
You tell us one must finish what one starts.
Perspiring, we press on once more,
Clambering over treacherous walls,
Negotiating boxed-in fields
Booby-trapped with clints and grykes,
While, like some castaway, a lapwing mews.
I climb a ridge of piled-up rocks,
Observe beyond a bare expanse
Of limestone great waves smashing home
To rise up in a burst of spray,
And there I see you striding out.
While we decide we’ve ventured far enough,
You stand a tiny speck beside the edge,
Gazing as Synge must once have gazed
At that great, savage, watery plain
That girds ‘those lonely rocks’ of Inishmaan.