Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Advice to a Poet, a poem by Patrick Galvin.

Post 620 - Patrick Galvin, one of the leading Irish poets and dramatists of his generation, was born in Cork City in 1927 and died recently in May 2011. He was the son of Patrick Galvin, a docker and a leading local boxer, a colorful character who had fought Jack Dempsey. Paddy was one of 12 children who grew up in a tough, militant environment, and he left school at 12 to become a delivery boy. After he ran away to join the Foreign Legion, he joined the RAF in 1942 and fought in Libya and Palestine. He worked for the Irish Times as a war correspondent in Korea, and then became part of the group around Brendan Behan who were to do so much to revitalize Irish, then English drama. He disliked the new suburban middle class in Ireland and in his poetry and his plays, he held an uncomfortable mirror up to his fellow countrymen. He loved the public role of the disorderly poet, but played it creatively, without falling into the self-destructive booziness of Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas. He renewed himself by periodic disappearances into the Munster countryside, the most productive of which was a sojourn with the tinkers wandering around Waterford and Kerry. In his last years, he spent much of his time in Belfast as resident dramatist at the Lyric Theatre.

Advice to a Poet by Patrick Galvin.

Be a chauffeur, my father said
And never mind the poetry.
That’s all very well for the rich
They can afford it.
What you need is money in your belt
Free uniform and plenty of travel.
Besides that, there’s nothing in verse.
And all poets are raging homosexuals.

I’d still like to be a poet

Another thing: don’t ever marry
And if you do, then marry for cash.
Love, after all, is easily come by
And any old whore will dance for a pound.
Take my advice and be a chauffeur
The uniform will suit you a treat
Marriage and poems will blind you surely
And poets and lovers are doomed to hell.

I’d still like to be a poet

But where’s the sense in writing poetry?
Did any poet ever make good?
I never met one who wasn’t a pauper
A prey to bailiffs, lawyers and priests.
Take my advice and be a chauffeur
With your appearance you’re bound to do well
You might even meet some rich old widow
Who’ll leave you a fortune the moment she dies.

I’d still like to be a poet

Well, blast you then, your days are darkened
Poverty, misery, carnage and sin.
The poems you’ll write won’t be worth a penny.
And the women you marry will bleed you to death.
Take my advice and buy a revolver
Shoot yourself now in the back of the head.
The Government then might raise a subscription
To keep your poor father from breeding again.

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