Monday, December 07, 2015


Patrick Kavanagh as a Farmer

Dear Mike,

Your extract on local newspapers from Collected Pruse reminds me of an Irish programme devoted to Kavanagh, which has a charming vignette of him as an absent-minded local-newspaper-reading farmer worthy of being set beside the accounts of Wordsworth by Lake District locals collected by Canon Rawnsley. See:

Click on "Home in Inniskeen" and then on "Locals not impressed by Kavanagh's farming" to get the rustic viewpoint. I found it almost incomprehensible, but fortunately an Irish friend provided a transcription. Here is what he was able to decipher of it:
And he was reading the paper behind the cart, and with a ?? he never thought that he had the mare and cart with him, and the mare and cart turning at the grape?? Damn, I said Paddy that's an awful mess. ?? I says.

[Recitation of Kavanagh's poem "Kerr's Ass":]
We borrowed the loan of Kerr's big ass
To go to Dundalk with butter,
Brought him home the evening before the market
And exile that night in Mucker.

We heeled up the cart before the door,
We took the harness inside —
The straw-stuffed straddle, the broken breeching
With bits of bull-wire tied;

The winkers that had no choke-band,
The collar and the reins . . .
In Ealing Broadway, London Town
I name their several names

Until a world comes to life —
Morning, the silent bog,
And the God of imagination walking
In a Mucker fog.
He was good for nothing as regards a farmer. He was good for nothing.

He had no idea about farming.

How do you know?


How do you know?

Because he went down the old road with the old mare, and he might go around about half an hour, and come back, and he sat thinking, and he'd finish up, leave the old horse there, and he'd land here to the village for the paper, and away home with him, and forget about where the horse was at all, and didn't know whether he had a horse at all or a ??, until he went home to the mother.

He left the horse in the field . . .


And the name of the horse was Old Glug.

Old Glug!

That's the name on, ah, the horse knew the way home better than he did.


... with the harness.

And when he'd be going home, he'd have the paper with him as usual, and he'd be reading the paper, and the train went from Inniskeen to Carrickmacross, and he had to cross the level crossing and the gates could be closed. If the gates were closed the horse would stop itself and Paddy would drop straight out of the horse's back and he'd waken up then.
As ever,

Ian [Jackson]

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