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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Alma Pater

Jeremy Bentham

You are some craic Jeremy Bentham!
You laughed when I arrived,
You were laughing when I left,
And you are laughing yet,
From your window to eternity.

I told the London cab driver
I was on my way to see you,
‘Wot Mate? Jeremy who?
O ‘im!..I ’ad him in the back once’.
You’d be laughing at that too.

Wrong Jeremy, wrong century,
But then you have been framed,
Taxidermed for posterity in a glass case
A stuffed relic, all very Catholic,
But there’s nothing stuffy about this place.

You were the first to let us in
Us Taigs, dissenters, detractors,
Laughing the last laugh,
Roaring from the grave at the havoc,
I like that.

Perchance it is just an Irish thing,
This communing with the departed,
When I was here last,
The rest hurrying past,
No time for the dead.

I shared with you my wonder
As I roamed the halls you created,
The mad flap of turning pages in my head.
A prodigal son returning from a desert war,
Thirsting for the want of parchment.

Now I am back and know what I want
Kierkegaard, Georg Brandes, Hans Christian Andersen
Strindberg and, above all, the Master Ibsen,
Whom only Celts and Vikings can now redeem,
In this world with its back turned to God,
To death and dreams.

With you at my shoulder, I walk the panelled corridors,
Up the winding library stairs that still creak,
To the forward plunging bridge of knowledge,
The privilege you have bestowed,
And one I had nearly forgotten.

I had changed you have not,
A special gift of the dead!
Yet my return is no death wish,
Rather, a decision to once again
Pick up the golden thread.

It sounds but one note when strung.
A chord you struck Jeremy Bentham.
Like the inner peal of a single primordial bell
Resonating through all of Art and Science.
The call to reflect in silence.

(Paul Larkin – Baile Átha Cliath – Mí Iúil 2004.
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Title: Alma Pater
Date posted: 20 Aug '07 - 22:12
Filed under: General
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