Aug. 29, 2010: HYMN TO A BROKEN MARRIAGE (Paul Durcan)

Here’s something to celebrate: the 2nd week in a row of timely publishing, and the second week in a row of British Isles music-themed selections. I was listening tonight to Van Morrison’s 1990 album “Enlightenment,” remembering for the first time in a couple years what a solid jam “In the Days Before Rock & Roll” is. Poet Paul Durcan provides one of the strangest vocal accompaniments of any Van tune, spasmodically scatting about various American boogie, jazz, and R&B artists who could be pulled in from some of the stronger radio signals in northern Europe–Ireland itself not providing any stations that played that stuff. Durcan is of course one half of the “wise-ass Pauls” of contemporary Irish verse, but as with Muldoon, beneath the play and laughter of his words there is always that hard nugget of knowing. I came across this poem that I’d never seen before and relished its twisted, twined motivations. -ed.


Dear Nessa – Now that our marriage is over
I would like you to know that, if I could put back the clock

Fifteen years to the cold March day of our wedding,

I would wed you again and, if that marriage also broke,

I would wed you yet again and, if it a third time broke,

Wed you again, and again, and again, and again, and again:

If you would have me which, of course, you would not.

For, even you – in spite of your patience and your innocence

(Strange characteristics in an age such as our own)

– Even you require to shake off the addiction of romantic love

And seek, instead, the herbal remedy of a sane affection

In which are mixed in profuse and fair proportion

Loverliness, brotherliness, fatherliness:

A sane man could not espouse a more faithful friend than you.


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