(Poem #918) John Kinsella's Lament for Mrs Mary Moore
A bloody and a sudden end, Gunshot or a noose, For Death who takes what man would keep, Leaves what man would lose. He might have had my sister, My cousins by the score, But nothing satisfied the fool But my dear Mary Moore, None other knows what pleasures man At table or in bed. What shall I do for pretty girls Now my old bawd is dead? Though stiff to strike a bargain Like an old Jew man, Her bargain stuck we laughed and talked And emptied many a can; And O! but she had stories, Though not for the priest's ear, To keep the soul of man alive, Banish age and care, And being old she put a skin On everything she said. What shall I do for pretty girls Now my old bawd is dead? The priests have got a book that says But for Adam's sin Eden's Garden would be there And I there within. No expectation fails there, No pleasing habit ends, No man grows old, no girl grows cold, But friends walk by friends. Who quarrels over halfpennies That plucks the trees for bread? What shall I do for pretty girls Now my old bawd is dead?
From "Last Poems, 1936-39". Note on typography: the final couplet of each stanza is in italics in the original, and unindented. A magnificent and touching elegy that paints a vivid picture of the confused emotions of mourning. The poem's narrator, John Kinsella, is initially angry with Death, with its arbitrary (and cruel) high-handedness in taking away the one person he cannot do without, his "dear Mary Moore". Rage, though, gives way to nostalgia, as he reflects tenderly on the times spent his sweetheart, times filled with a bawdy joy, a fierce lust for life, passionate and true. And nostalgia is in turn replaced by a wistfulness, a longing for release, into a paradise where "No man grows old, no girl grows cold / But friends walk by friends". This is a closure of sorts, though not, perhaps, an entirely peaceful one. Note especially the (characteristically brilliant) use of a refrain: "What shall I do for pretty girls / Now my old bawd is dead?", which captures both the desolation of impending loneliness and the quality of the love that Kinsella feels for Moore, a love that's based not on prettiness or passion, but on comfort, and companionship, and closeness. Beautifully done. thomas. [Minstrels Links] William Butler Yeats is one of my favourite poets: Poem #1, The Song of Wandering Aengus Poem #21, Sailing to Byzantium Poem #32, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem #60, Byzantium Poem #79, Red Hanrahan's Song About Ireland Poem #160, The Realists Poem #237, The Ballad of Father Gilligan Poem #289, The Second Coming Poem #309, The Lake Isle of Innisfree Poem #324, Three Movements Poem #407, Solomon and the Witch Poem #436, When You Are Old Poem #451, Leda and the Swan Poem #511, Beautiful Lofty Things Poem #577, The Cat and the Moon Poem #597, He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven Poem #641, The Road at My Door Poem #655, No Second Troy Dylan Thomas is said to have liked today's poem very much; his own work shares many of its qualities: Poem #14, Prologue Poem #38, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Poem #58, The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Poem #138, Fern Hill Poem #225, Poem In October Poem #270, Under Milk Wood Poem #335, After the Funeral (In memory of Ann Jones) Poem #405, Altarwise by Owl-Light (Stanzas I - IV) Poem #476, In my craft or sullen art Poem #568, Especially when the October Wind