Stephen Murphy & W.B. Yeats vs. The Irish Credit Crunch

It’s probably no more than a coincidence – probably – but two of the best pieces of social commentary that I have seen in the last couple of years have been written by Irish poets. First there was Anna Warrington’s “Reasons for Leaving”, which we shared with you earlier this week; and then there is “After The Tiger”, which is Stephen Murphy’s take on the Irish credit crunch. Stephen based “After The Tiger” upon “Under Ben Bulben”, a piece by W B Yeats, which you can read here. It’s a moving, often epic, description of a nation’s fall from grace, and though it is written about the modern era there is something about it that makes me think it may last a few years yet. Without further ado, here it is.

“After The Tiger”

I
Here the rushing waters meet
To wash the weary mountain’s feet
Where everyone will stop to greet
The stranger passing in the street

Although they may be friend or foe
To know they must acknowledge so
that passing time can soon decree
The mind’s compatability

I came across the wooden bridge
As I approached the yellow ridge
Whose civil folk I duly found
Encaptured by their hallowed ground

II
To many places man must go
From faceless streets to empty roads
Through inner journeys of the soul
In stifling heat and bitter cold
If travelling but by the self
Those learning shall inherit wealth
Who need not false modernities
To cradle insecurities
Who fears but they be feared may find
The secrets of the human mind
Exposed in fields of fertile bliss
Where Spring has washed and Summer kissed

III
He whose vision of this land
In passing left the deftest hand
Upon the shoulders passion felt
In those who prayed and whom so knelt
Not at the covered altar there
But long before in open air
Whose heavens needed not a roof
To convalesce in their reproof
Whose ocean in the distance roared
‘I’ll comfort all who dare adore!’
So dare they did and there the gates
Stood open for the minds embrace

IV
I come in sadness to reply
That man ignored his battle cry
Where life but now computered mind
Has changed the face of humankind

Of Ireland’s old, the remnants few
Still walk to smell the honeydew
Before the break of morning comes
Through concrete fields of damage done
We sacrifice, this mortal curse,
Our peace of mind for fattened purse
Whose Eden governed by the snake
Has hissed and cried ‘The West’s Awake!’
Allowing Adam and fair Eve
To profligate at which they please
And said ‘Live life at liberty
Look not for what the future sees
But bask in these prosperities!’

By our consent the corporate shift
Came on the North-Atlantic drift
With plastic Gods of chip-and-pin
That gave to all who wanted in
Who never had before nor then
But thus emboldened could pretend
That never would they starve again
A fate that fell on greater men

Now silently they flock once more
The swallows perched to leave this shore
Yet their’s is not a Spring return
For many seasons shall in turn
Pass longingly without the song
Of generations come and gone.

V
Upon his grave I lay my word
A gift onto the modern world
Here he lies where horsemen pass
At speed on roads where once lay grass
Their pockets laden seek to buy
The memoirs of this poet’s life
Whose Anglo-Irish politic
Survived impassioned rhetoric
Behold the fascist, tourists all
Who walk this rocky, rolling ball
To capture moments with machines
Preserving loss of memories
Now find the peasantry reborn
In wealth the earth is left forlorn
We do not own our lives but owe
Until the winds of death have blown

Under bear Ben Bulben’s gaze
The church majestic stands unfazed
Though Yeats in flesh has long decayed
His spirit in the mountain stayed
Outside the gates I stood to see
The fall of free society
Where young and old must pay to breathe
This air of ancient Irishry.

Cast a close eye
On mind, on breath
Merchant, pass by.

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About Charlotte Morgan Nwokenna

Editor and Public Relations Officer
This entry was posted in Poetry, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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