I saw him read the following poem a few years ago, here in New York. In Ceann Dubh Dílís/My Darkhaired Love, Ó Searcaigh has taken a traditional song of the same title and adapted it for his own use. It's not my favorite poem of his, but when he read it here he amused us all by dedicating it to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. For those who don't know, the AOH is the organization that sponsors the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade, and refuses to allow any g/l/b/t groups to march in it under their own banners. One old sweetheart went on record as saying that allowing gay people to march in the St Patrick's Day Parade would be like having Hitler march in a parade for Israel. You might be interested to know that the first St. Patrick's Day parade ever happened here in New York. There are similar celebrations now throughout Ireland, but they're a fairly recent phenomenon, having been inspired by the bacchanals in the States. All the parades in Ireland, by the way, allow l/g/b/t groups to march openly.
I don't actually get too het up about this particular issue, to be honest. I respect people who do (there will be protests and arrests today, as in previous years), but for me it feels like being refused entry to a party I didn't want to go to in the first place. Nonetheless, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I would like to rededicate this poem to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Ceann Dubh Dílís/My Blackhaired Love
My blackhaired love, my dear, dear, dear,
Our kiss re-opens Christ's wounds here;
But close your mouth, don't spread the word:
We offend the Gospels with our love.
You plague the local belles, my sweet;
They attempt to coax you with deceit
But you prefer my lonely kiss,
You hugging me to bring to bliss.
Lay your head my dear, dear, dear,
Lay your head on my breast here;
I'll close my mouth, no detail break-
I'd deny the Gospels for your sake.
translated by Gabrial Fitzmaurice
I happened to find a video of the poet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA0cOu_u6Uw
He was featured at the San Francisco International Poetry Festival. In the video he actually reads three poems, accompanied by a handsome fellow on fiddle, and the middle poem is this one; it should be easy to catch, because he pauses before each poem, and you should be able to catch the word 'dílís (pronounced DEE leesh). Seeing the video I was struck by two things: one, it's interesting to hear how traditional Irish music has influenced and/or been influenced by jazz improvisation: two, hearing Ó Searcaigh recite, I'm reminded of recordings of Yeats reading his own work; I wonder if I'm getting a glimpse of oratorical traditions the latter may have been drawing on.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day, my dears, dears, dears.
(Edit: for some reason, blogger is choosing not to honor the stanza breaks in the poem, despite repeated attempts to put them in. Forgive me, Mr Ó Searcaigh, I really did try.)