Rereading Oliver Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village' in a Changed Ireland.

Author:Boland, Eavan
Position:Poem
 
FREE EXCERPT

1 Well not for years--at least not then or then. I never looked at it. Never took it down. The place was changing. That much was plain: Land was sold. The little river was paved over with stone. Lilac ran wild. Our neighbors opposite put out the For Sale sign. 2 All the while, I let Goldsmith's old lament remain Where it was: high on my shelves, stacked there at the back-- Dust collecting on its out-of-date, other-century, superannuated pain. 3 I come from an old country. Someone said it was past its best. It had missed its time. But it was beautiful. Blue suggested it, and green defined it. Everywhere I looked it provided mirrors, mirror flashes, sounds. Its name was not Ireland. It was Rhyme. 4 I return there for a moment as the days Wind back, staying long enough to hear vowels rise Around the name of a place. Goldsmith's origin but not his source. Lissoy . Signal and sibilance of a river-hamlet with trees. 5 And stay another moment to summon his face, To see his pen work the surface, To watch lampblack inks laying phrase after phrase On the island, the village he is taking so much care to erase. 6 And then I leave. Here in our village of Dundrum The Manor Laundry was once the Corn Mill. The laundry was shut and became a bowling alley. The main street held the Petty Sessions and Dispensary. 8 A spring morning. A first gleam of sunshine in Mulvey's builder's yard. The husbands and wives in the walled graveyard Who brought peace to one another's bodies are not separated...

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