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Ireland With Emily

Written by: John Betjeman | Biography
 | Quotes (3) |
 Bells are booming down the bohreens,
White the mist along the grass,
Now the Julias, Maeves and Maureens
Move between the fields to Mass.
Twisted trees of small green apple Guard the decent whitewashed chapel, Gilded gates and doorway grained, Pointed windows richly stained With many-coloured Munich glass.
See the black-shawled congregations On the broidered vestment gaze Murmer past the painted stations As Thy Sacred Heart displays Lush Kildare of scented meadows, Roscommon, thin in ash-tree shadows, And Westmeath the lake-reflected, Spreading Leix the hill-protected, Kneeling all in silver haze? In yews and woodbine, walls and guelder, Nettle-deep the faithful rest, Winding leagues of flowering elder, Sycamore with ivy dressed, Ruins in demesnes deserted, Bog-surrounded bramble-skirted - Townlands rich or townlands mean as These, oh, counties of them screen us In the Kingdom of the West.
Stony seaboard, far and foreign, Stony hills poured over space, Stony outcrop of the Burren, Stones in every fertile place, Little fields with boulders dotted, Grey-stone shoulders saffron-spotted, Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds, Where a Stone Age people breeds The last of Europe's stone age race.
Has it held, the warm June weather? Draining shallow sea-pools dry, When we bicycled together Down the bohreens fuchsia-high.
Till there rose, abrupt and lonely, A ruined abbey, chancel only, Lichen-crusted, time-befriended, Soared the arches, splayed and splendid, Romanesque against the sky.
There in pinnacled protection, One extinguished family waits A Church of Ireland resurrection By the broken, rusty gates.
Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover, Graves of spinster, rake and lover, Whose fantastic mausoleum, Sings its own seablown Te Deum, In and out the slipping slates.



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