top of page



  THE BALLAD OF JAMES JOYCE 


   My name's  James  Joyce. 

   I've a golden voice. 

   Born in Dublin. Life was grim. 

   B ut the family called me Sunny Jim. 

   When Pappy 

   was happy, 

   he could talk 

   for Ireland - 

   "OR, BETTER STILL,  COUNTY CORK!"

 

   Cursed 

   by a thirst, 

   no Saint Jerome, 

   he drank us out of  house and home.

   Messed up his job as a Rate Collector.

   Mistreated Mother,  begod he wrecked her:

   child  after child -   "KALLOO, KALLAY ... 

   BAILLIFS AHOY,  BOY!  HEAD FOR BRAY." 


   Where I loved a lass.

   Alas, 

   a Prod. 

   Holy Ireland,  God  help me God! 

 

   At Newman's Uni, off my knees,

   I worshipped Ibsen, and took my ease 

   up a Tower in Sandycove. First Bloomsday, 

   I loved a great woman  from Galway Bay. 

 

   And away 

   went we  from our native land, 

   Free! 

   From cash, or a marriage band,

   Into Illyria, interminglish. 

 

   I taught Austro-Hungarians Irish-English,

   and wrote about me, dear Dublln, and pomes 

   only fit to be sung.  Two splendiferous tomes: 

   OOLY SAEZ and FINNEGANS WAKE.

 

   Rejoice with oysters and whiskey cake!

   For now that I'm out of copyright, 

   you're all very welcome,  and free to recite 

   from Molly, Bloom,and the Wake and all,  while over in Zu-

   rich, there by the Zoo, 

   I'll be laughing and singing  along  with you.


****************************

            HAPPY PAPPY

  In the Good Old Days, in what's still a bakery called Molloys,

  My Grandad, Andy O'Connor, was Bray's Baker - " BOYS OH BOYS!" 

  He survived three wives. Oh, the ladies caught his fancy.

  And he'd four high-maintenance daughters: Eileen, Cora, Lucy, and my Mum, Nancy.

  So he dreamed up a sure-fire money-making scheme: 

  RAMS, EWES AND LAMBS, I'LL TAKE FROM MY COUNTY, 

  GALWAY, TO SLAKE THEIR FILL,

  ON THE SUMPTUOUS BOUNTY

  OF A WICKLOW HILL.

  THEY'LL THRIVE AND SWELL LIKE YEAST,

  ON THE LUSH, PLUSH, PAMPERED PASTURES OF THE EAST!

  They swelled like woolly balloons. They failed to thrive.

  Soon, not a Western beast was left alive.

  The grass was classy,  but, Alas, too gassy  for the Galway chassis.

  And the swollen souls of the home-sick sheep

  flew Westward Ho to eternal sleep.

  Unhappy  Pappy  found that sheep'll

  let you down, and so will people.

  For, in those days,  Bakers extended  extended  credit,

  and, if you've a further tear to shed, here's where to shed it.

  For the mean and minjy,  serene and stingy,

  begrudging tight-fisters of Bray

  were so  slow  to pay,

  Good Old Grandad went bust!

  A Baker, left,  bereft,  without a crust ...

  Till he met pretty  Kitty,

  his fine, final wife,

  who kept him in clover  the rest of his life!



*********************************************** 


*************************************************

       DESPERATION [a sonnet]


   Oh, It's easy to find a randy man,

   a brandy man or a shandy man.

   But where can you find a handyman?

   That's what I need to know!

   Has every glazier turned lazier?

   Is every sparks in the doomy dark?

   Your plumber, off in search of summer?

   All chippies, up the Mississippi?

   And where did all the all-rounders go?

   Is what I want to know.

   I know I should do the job myself,

   but then I remember my latest shelf,

   which slumps if you put anything on it.

   But it'll do. (Likewise my sonnet.)

**************************

   My 2001 transcription  of the Irish National Anthem in Irish  into English words:

shin-naff-Ian naff-foil

add-thaw Fay-owl egg-Aaron

boo-weaned-Thor slew-a

hard-thin the-raw Nick-who-wing

Fay-void fez-sayer

shan't-hear or shin-sheer fast-the

knee auk-fur

faint-hear-raw gnaw-faint-royal

a-nook-the hay-am

sieve-are naff-vale

leggy-Ann air-Gael

come-bosh nose-sale

leg-gun ash-crake

fail-law-fug nab-Bill-lair

shawl-leave Connie

our-raw naff-Ian!


And here's my free version in English

of the Irish text:


Citizens are we,

whose love is pledged to Ireland.

Some

have come

From away across the sea.

Sworn to be free!

No more our land of Ireland

shall shelter the tyrant or the slave.

Today

we're ready for the fray.

In Ireland's cause,

the weak are strong.

Though traitors sneer

and cowards fear,

we'll sing the Irish Song!

******************************

***********************************


    NIGHT VISITORS, MELBOURNE

Before the dawn, a flurry …

a scurry.

Mouse? Rat?

Possum? Wombat?

WHOOSH!

Out of the hearth - a Bat?


Flapping overhead!

Out of the bed,

we fled.

What to do?

God,

there's TWO!


Birds? Black birds in flight,

scattering soot 'n' shite ...

Call Pest Control? Our guests

don't qualify as pests ...

We open a tiny window but they scoff

at our gentle invitation to piss off.


Preferring to assail a wider window,

they batter the frantic windowpane in vain ...

We

contact a local ornithologist. She

winds windowframe ajar.

A bird escapes - HOORAH!


But where's its mate?

Flew back up flue?

Out tiny window?

I don't care - Do you?


We humbly mumble Thanks to neighbour,

almost lost for words,

thinking: Damn you, Alfred Hitchcock,

Why did you make THE BIRDS?

********************

    IN MALAHIDE

(a seaside town to the North of Dublin)


In Malahide, long years ago,

from a tennis club, I was told to go,

for digging with a Papish foot.

(I felt like Adam when the gate was shut.)


In Malahide, in the Grand Hotel,

which wasn't grand then, or posh, or swell,

the rooms were haunted, the grounds were wild,

a magical world for an ageing child.


In Malahide, at the Grand Hotel,

my sister's do, I remember well;

and the nun who'd just jumped over the wall,

who didn't behave like a nun at all.


In Malahide, a kindly priest

saw me becoming a sensual beast:

If you don't give up helping yourself,

you'll end up in Hell, on the bachelor shelf.


In Malahide, I fell in love,

and flew in my mind to the stars above.

She hailed from Glasgow. My heart, I lent her.

(Her mother returned the letter I sent her.)


In Malahide, I found Romance.

In Malahide, I lost my pants:

swept out to sea on the ebbing tide!

Just a tiny towel. (I nearly died.)

**************************

   CUSTOMER COMPLAINT

   A tale or a song, even a folk song,

   needn't go on and on, a cause of grief. Be brief.

   Bow to the listener, a thoughtful grovel.

   A story, yes - but not, please not, a novel.


   Edit. If it's half-sheddable, shed it.

   There's no disgrace in cutting to the chase.

   Oh hear my heartfelt cry, my frenzied dictum:

   I'm here as a paying guest - not as a victim. 


***************************



        Songs for UnGays

        to sing at Gay Weddings

        to the tune of

        Owed to Gay


(1)

NOT DROWNING BUT WIVING

We are not Gay,

but, if we were,

instead of Him,

we'd marry Her.

Instead of Jim,

we'd marry Jane.

No more to swim

against the grain.


No to Man,

and Yes to Woman.

This has been

a long time comin'.

Wife and Wife

may cut down strife.

Two spoons, no knife:

a Hope of Life!



(2)

HYMN


We are not Gay,

but, if we were,

we'd marry Him

instead of Her.


Instead of Her,

we'd marry Him.

Instead of Jane,

we'd marry Jim.


Forsaking Woman,

taking Man,

we'd sing a Hymn,

and not a Hyrrh.


We'd love each other

gaily,

daily -

and we'd call each other,

Sir!


************************

**************

 


********************************************************


    TRICKY VERBS


A 12-stanza sequence

of 75 irregular verbs,

which includes all the ones

that broadsheets, broadcasters

& English-learners tend to get wrong,

& shows that irregular verbs

are not that irregular.

It can also be used as a series of mantras,

a cure for insomnia,

or notes for an autobiographical novel. 

1

I drink, I drank, I have drunk.

I shrink, I shrank, I have shrunk.

I stink, I stank, I have stunk.

I sink, I sank, I have sunk.

2

You sing, you sang, you have sung.

You spring, you sprang, you have sprung.

You ring with an R, you rang, you have rung.

You wring with a W, you wrung, you have wrung. 

You swing, you swung, you have swung.

3

He comes, he came, he has come.

He swims, he swam, he has swum.

He draws, he drew, he has drawn.

He saws, he sawed, he has sawn.

He shines, he shone, he has shone.

He goes, he went, he has gone.

4

She knows, she knew, she has known.

She blows, she blew, she has blown.

She throws, she threw, she has thrown.

She grows, she grew, she has grown.

She sews with an E, she sewed, she has sewn.

She sows with an O, she sowed, she has sown.

She shows, she showed, she has shown.

She mows, she mowed, she has mown.

6

You swell, you swelled, you have swollen.

You steal, you stole, you have stolen.

You do, you did, you have done.

You spin, you spun, you have spun.

You run, you ran, you have run.

You win, you won, you have won.

7

They eat, they ate, they have eaten.

They beat, they beat, they have beaten.

They slay, they slew, they have slain.

They lie (down), they lay, they have lain.

They see, they saw, they have seen.

They are, they were, they have been.

They break, they broke, they have broken.

They wake, they woke, they have woken.

They speak, they spoke, they have spoken.

8

I wear, I wore, I have worn.

I tear, I tore, I have torn.

I swear, I swore, I have sworn.

I hide, I hid, I have hidden.

I ride, I rode, I have ridden.

I take, I took, I have taken.

I shake, I shook, I have shaken.

I forsake, I forsook, I have forsaken.

9

You feel, you felt, you have felt.

You deal, you dealt, you have dealt.

You mean, you meant, you have meant.

You send, you sent, you have sent.

You creep, you crept, you have crept.

You keep, you kept, you have kept.

You sleep, you slept, you have slept.

10

He buys, he bought, he has bought.

He brings, he brought, he has brought.

He fights, he fought, he has fought.

He thinks, he thought, he has thought.

He teaches, he taught, he has taught.

11

She says, she said, she has said.

She breeds, she bred, she has bred.

She feeds, she fed, she has fed.

She flees, she fled, she has fled.

12

We bind, we bound, we have bound.

We grind, we ground, we have ground.

We sell, we sold, we have sold.

We tell, we told, we have told.

We make, we made, we have made.

We lay (eggs), we lay, we have laid.

We pay, we paid, we have paid.

*******************************

bottom of page