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A St. Patrick’s Poem On Shamrocks And Stereotypes

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
March 17, 2012

Ireland has launched some of the greatest writers in English literature, from William Butler Yeats to Oscar Wilde to George Bernard Shaw.

To honor St. Patrick’s Day, Irish expatriate Frank Delaney, has penned a poem especially for NPR’s Weekend Edition called “Drowning the Shamrock.” Delaney is the author of the novel Ireland; his career has lasted more than three decades and includes more than 3,500 interviews with some of the world’s most significant writers. His previous literary project, “Re: Joyce,” is an ambitious podcast that deconstructs each sentence in Ulysses.

“Drowning the Shamrock” is Delaney’s irreverent “James Joyce-ian” take on St. Patrick’s Day, filled with Irish pride.

Drowning the Shamrock


“Hail glorious Saint Patrick dear saint of our isleOn us thy poor children look down with a smile –”But I’m not singing hymns and I’m not saying prayersNo, I’m gritting my teeth as I walk down the stairsAnd into the street with these louts fiercely drinkingAnd screeching and lurching, and here’s what I’m thinking –They’re using a stereotype, a narrow example,A fraction, not even a marketing sampleTo imitate Ireland, from which they don’t come!So unless that’s just stupid, unless it’s plain dumb,All these kids from New Jersey and the five boroughsAnd hundreds of cities, all drowning their sorrows,With bottles and glasses and heads getting broken(Believe me, just ask the mayor of Hoboken)All that mindlessness, shouting and getting plain stocious –That isn’t Irish, that’s simply atrocious.I’ve another word too for it, this one’s more stingingI call it “racism.” See, just ’cause you’re singingSome drunken old ballad on Saint Patrick’s DayDoes that make you Irish? Oh, no — no way.Nor does a tee-shirt that asks you to kiss them –If they never come back I surely won’t miss themOr their beer cans and badges and wild maudlin bawlingAnd hammered and out of it, bodies all sprawling.

They’re not of Joyce or of Yeats, Wilde, or Shaw.How many Nobel Laureates does Dublin have? Four!Think of this as you wince through Saint Patrick’s guano –Not every Italian is Tony Soprano. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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