The Spaniard Inn

- by Desmond O'Grady.

Dedsmond O'Grady, poet, Kinsale, May-2004
Desmond O'Grady`s poem, below, has been taken from his book "The Road Taken: Poems 1950-1966" and is published by the "Strasbourg Press". We are greatful to Desmond for his kind permission to use this work on our website - as we are for his company at the Spaniard for many years.

Born in Limerick in 1935 he left during the 1950s to teach and write in Paris, Rome and America where he took his doctorate at Harvard while a Teaching Fellow there. He has also taught at the American University in Cairo and the University of Alexandria, Egypt.

During the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, while teaching in Rome, he was a founder member of the European Community of Writers, European editor of The Transatlantic Review, and organised the Spoleto International Poetry Festival.

Nowadays Desmond lives in Kinsale. His publications number seventeen collections of poetry, including The Road Taken: Poems 1956 - 1996 and The Wandering Celt, ten collections of translated poetry, among them Trawling Tradition: Translations 1954 - 1994 and Selected Poems of C. P. Cafavy, and prose memoirs of his literary acquaintances and friends. He is a member of Ireland's Aosdána.

The Spaniard Inn

Dawn's breeze pianos spring leaves and gently plays
all those trees around my home. Those crows
congregate in our churchyard each day.
A southwest wind hoots that ghostly fog
hom of the Old Head of Kinsale. My dog,
Gameball, wags in his bark to wake my day.

Glad voices of children's play at school
bell my hour. I exit, glad dog to heel.
We laze the Low Road. Open sea portside.
I watch for that-chance salmon's jump. Wood heights
to starboard. I pursue my greening thoughts
in their shade, an exile from exile alongside.

Pause at The Seat to swap chat with old seamen
stare lost between our harbour and horizon.

All Scilly ways and byways lead us straight
face to The Spaniard anchorage day or night.
Sailors have stood at this bar for centuries.
Robinson Crusoe began his voyage from here
where I dropped anchor after my voyage elsewhere.

Retired seamen, ashore for their last years,
salute my come on board, remark the weather.
Then for our day's forecast wisely refer
to telltale spiders' webs. We drink, then break
the bread of life leavened by common talk.
Our brief the local paper's headlines. We balk
at none. With ease we right each grave mistake
of State, in Sport, the outside world made last night
and, glass for glass, stand all downfalls upright.

That man and his three brothers torpedoed
the same day in the War. All four survived.
This one adrift alone for weeks, same War.
The postman daily walks his thirty miles
round here before they got those postwar bicycles.
That man's glass eye, a poke out by his ship's spar.
And so on for generations past.

Some historic pictures hang nailed fast
to these old walls. The Luisitania, sunk
off The Old Head, contrasts with the bad luck
of Captain Smith on his bridge, the Titanic
my mother would not sail on.
Her Limerick best friend Molly Dwyer did. She survived.
Then I was born. History's what's retrieved.

It took me forty years of world wander
before I shipped in here and dropped anchor.
Some voice amid life whispers where to scuttle.
My wanderlust lies diydocked here forever.
Memory's my seachart now, this pub home harbour---
where old and young sailors enjoy their gargle.

Our youths return with news of foreign places.
We hear them with unmoved, reflective faces.
We've been there, seen all, (lone that but don't tell
what we got up to then when we were young.
The talc's the same for all of youth's far flung
flight. Don't foul your homeport still holds our rule.
That old sailor told me what an older
one told him. Once home the world shrinks closer.

We tell the hour of day, day of the week.
by our each move: Who shows up first to sneak
his pint of breakfast and cheek off the day's
racehorses in the morning newspaper
who's dodged down Breakheart Hill to shop before
he'll drink the money here if he delays;
who's bailed out or painted up their boats
while waiting. Who's pulled all his lobster pots
and earned his day; our breadman with town news;
just now the Bike pushed past the window,
never enters. Another round. It's now
the hour that old seadog drinks up and leaves.
No local women weekdays. After Mass
on Sundays, with their husbands, some show face.

We each must have a place to sit our perch
where we may live our separate selves, or worse,
a while, daily. There we may lapse with ease
into our local dialect for talk
with friends. This we punctuate with mock
gestures to make a point when we so please.
That's when our dreams, conjured in innocence,
find likeminded dreamers who believe us
in this our public shrine of reverie.

I launched and sailed this boat, my life, as mine
to master. In fair and foul, through dark and shine,
I safely navigated many a sea.

But now, as the poet said in dream to me:
'The devil is tired. The devil a monk shall be.'



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