Sunday, August 24, 2008

No country for old men

I'm bound for Ireland, and I recently made a post about the poetry of crime. Imagine, then, my surprise when I opened a book of Yeats' poetry and found these lines from "John Kinsella's Lament for Mrs. Mary Moore":

A bloody and a sudden end,
From gunshot or a noose,
For death who takes what man could keep,
Or leaves what man would lose.
He might have had my sister
My cousins by the score,
But nothing satisfied the old fool
But my dear Mary Moore."
As it happens, the poem is not narrative, and there is no indication that bawdy Mary Moore met her death in anything but a natural fashion. But those eight opening lines evoke the atmosphere of comically grim or grimly comic crime fiction. Since Ireland produces so much crime fiction of that description, maybe the passage will turn up as an epigraph to a crime novel one day. Maybe it has already.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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17 Comments:

Blogger Kerrie said...

you off for a holiday Peter?

August 24, 2008  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Good trip, Peter.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

What a great Yeats' snippet. Enjoy your time and hoist a pint for all of us.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, is that one pint for each of you, or a collective pint for everyone?

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, Kerrie, just a holiday, alas. I am not moving permanently. And thanks for the bon voyage, Patti.

My tour of archaeological and historic sites was cancelled. Fortunately, there's a crime-fiction festival in Dublin with some good guests to take up part of the time. And I'll still be able to visit some of the sites without the added pressure of having to get up early in the morning to do so.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Dana King said...

Safe travels, Peter. I'll look forward to your return, and I hope for a chance to meet in person at Bouchercon.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, and the wind will be at my back, as in the old Irish blessing, but then I think it always is when one flies east across the Atlantic. In any case, I don't leave for a few days yet. I'll be there at Bouchercon schmoozing, socializing and handing out resumes like nobody's business.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

Keep blogging from Ireland. It'll be fun to hear what you think about the old place.

I always liked this from Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal

"The blots on the page are so black that they cannot be covered with shamrock."

Bon voyage

a....

August 24, 2008  
Blogger The Clandestine Samurai said...

Hmmm....I'm not familiar with Yeats' work, as I'm not really a poetry person. Or I used to not to be: I opened a book of poetry that store now sells, and became a bit intrigued. I may have to check it out.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No need to get misty-eyed yet; I don't leave until the weekend. And I hope to blog from Ireland and to add photos when I get back. I've blogged from Hammamet and Tunis and Split, so I should be able to do so from Belfast and Dublin.

And I picked up The Third Policeman today as part of my preparation for the trip.

August 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

CS, I'm not much of a poetry reader either, but when I do find a poem I like, it tends to capture my imagination in a big way. I suppose that's because poetry is economical. It carried a big punch in just a few words.

What's the book of poetry you found?

August 24, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

I do hope you like The Third Policeman. The weirdest (and in my opinion) funniest) Irish crime novel ever written. Your post on dropped 'h's above reminded me of something. A central joke of The Third Policeman that no one ever gets outside of Ireland is the title itself. In the Dublin accent the 'h' is not pronounced, so the title of the book is a sly dig at the cops.

A...

August 25, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Peter,

Regarding the pint, whichever your tastebuds and liver would prefer!

August 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I suppose a number of things can make a book funny. It looks as if the sentences in The Third Policeman are funny, that long, rambling rhythm that gives O'Brien/O'Nolan all the chance in the world to whack the reader in the head with some odd surprise by the end.

August 25, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, I shall map out a schedule and hoist a pint for a different person each day. This should enable me to enjoy a holiday spiced by moderate and efficient drinking.

August 25, 2008  
Anonymous Ally said...

Epigraph, surely...

August 27, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Eep! Yes, of course. All this talk of Irish writers must have given me a case of Oscar Wilde on the brain. Thanks.

August 27, 2008  

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