‘which art in heaven’ …

Austin Clarke is a well known and respected Irish writer of the recent past.

Perhaps his lines written on the burial of Dr Douglas Hyde, first Irish President, are appropriate at this time – especially in the light of recent articles posted here on Newry Journal.

Perhaps even, the combatants on the ‘Irish Shame’ Thread will read this and disavow ‘the integrity of their quarrel’. 


‘The tolling from St Patrick’s

Cathedral was brangled, repeating

Itself in top-back room

And alley of the Coome,

Crowding the dirty streets,

Upbraiding all our pat tricks.

Tricoloured and beflowered,

Coffin of our President,

Where fifty mourners bowed,

Was trestled in the gloom

Of arch and monument,

Beyond the desperate tomb

Of Swift. Imperial flags,

Corunna, Quatre Bras,

Inkermann, Pretoria,

Their pride turning to rags,

Drooped, smoke-thin as the booming

Of cannon. The simple word

From heaven was vaulted, stirred

By candles. At the last bench

Two Catholics, the French

Ambassador and I, knelt down.

The vergers waited. Outside.

The hush of Dublin town,

Professors of cap and gown,

Costello, his Cabinet,

In Government cars, hiding

Around the corner, ready

Tall hat in hand, dreading

Our Father in English. Better

Not hear that ‘which’ for ‘who’

And risk eternal doom.

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