A Dublin Memory


We were going up Sackville Street together
Having just crossed the Liffey from Trinity College
Where the fine books live in their calf-bound leather
To visit the little one-handled adulterer,
Trim still then on top of his column,
And the first door to pass was a pub at the corner.
In the afternoon sun we were both of us thirsty,
So I said to my wife, I said, ‘Look! what about it?’
Not a word did she say but turned in the doorway,
Into a bar-room almost deserted
But for three old bar flies draining their tankards,
Three ancient boyos who feigned to ignore us.
So I led my dear love to a four-seat compartment
And took a long stride to the neighbouring counter
Where I ordered a couple of beers from the barman.
He said, ‘Just a moment, sir!’ Moved to a corner
Where he filled up a customer’s previous order.
As I waited our drinks seemed a long time coming
And, when I returned to my drought-stricken darling,
The three old rascals had slipped in beside her.
Having brought her a mug, and they looked up grinning
And returned to their talk with the woman I wedded,
To leave me there propped like a perfect stranger,
Then turned back to say in pretended amazement:
‘Glory to God! Will that not be himself now?
Well, there’s no room Ma’am, would yez say, for the moment.
With ourselves here so cosy, so he’ll sit beyond there.’
So I sat in the empty booth, laughing towards them.
And would you believe it, their tankards were empty!
‘May I buy you a drink?’ I enquired; and they answered,
‘What’s so handsomely offered, sure, who would refuse it?’ So
I bowed to my fate as the afternoon melted
Leaving Sackville Street to get on without us,
And the three famous whores too who haunt it in legend.
We never did make it to Nelson’s column.
A pity! They tell me they’ve blown the thing up now.

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