Sunset on the Irish Festival
(Port Arthur 1994)
Spring: the road flaunts wattle gold,
with pink and white skirts of heather.
On the white poplars little baby hands
pick at the light with pale, hooked fingers.
At Smith O'Brien's cottage daffodils
throw refrain to the buttercup light.
It is a time for mown parkland grass
and bold blooms in the Government Gardens.
Just so, the sun sets on the Irish Festival.
It is not a time to echo rebellion.
A girl sings of 'Hard Times'.
'My mother told me before she passed away
Said girl when I'm gone don't you forget to pray
Cause there'll be hard times...'
The man-caked walls gaze inscrutably down.
'I soon found out just what she meant
When I had to pawn my clothes just to pay the rent...'
The men at the Festival are of middle years,
thin-shanked, long-haired - curiously like the men of old,
but with a softness.
The walls seem to turn away -
to fix, with the sun, on Point Peur, on Dead Island.
And the girl says - seems to say -
I'm perfectly wise in the careworn ways
of the world. Y'know?
'Oh man one of these days
There'll be no more sorrow, then when I pass away
Be no more hard times, no more hard times
And who knows better than I...'
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