Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Green Thought In a Green Shade

This is St Patrick's Day, and so, it would be wrong of me to not mention the great, green day, and to record for all three of my readers some thoughts which spring to mind. Note: none of these thoughts make any sense, nor is there any obvious connection between them. Sentences may even stop mid-thought for no reason. Brace yoursel

First of all, Ireland itself: this little island (about the size of Indiana) is Europe's last land fall before the broad sweep of the Atlantic Ocean, across which, hidden by the curve of the Earth, lies the magical land of America. For a long time the Irish believed in America as they also believed in Heaven. Perhaps some still do.

Ireland itself, is not magical, is magical, is not! Is! Isn't! 'Tis! 'Tisn't! as much a corporate brand of late, as much a cultural force,  as it is a (still-partitioned) little island.

On St Patrick's Day, 2008, I took a copy of poems by Andrew Marvell, unfortunately an English poet, (I say unfortunately, for the benefit of any Irish-esque people out there whose Irishness is defined largely by their hatred of the English, whom they even more ridiculously often refer to as "red coats"), and read it on the way to half-heartedly take uninspired photos of the long-ago moribund New York City parade.

My reason for reading was to try to locate a half-remembered phrase from a Marvell poem; here is the stanza of his poem, "The Garden," containing (my italics) the actual phrase I had recalled from third year English Lit:

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

As so often in my life, I find a low-brow, corny meaning hidden within a high-sounding kernel of truth. The last two lines could easily mean a trance-like state of consciousness that is barely remembered from the earliest stages of life, when as babies we were unaware even of the passage of time; all was sensory sense and sensation, green, shady, gorgeous in a grotto of green days... but it could also equally apply to what a feed of Guinness would do to the average 'amateur' drinker on March 17th.

Don't forget these facts: Patrick Hitler, a cousin of Adolf Hitler, was from Dublin. The Fuhrer received him as a visitor in the 1930s, and later complained that his Irish cousin was less interested in the National Socialist miracle than in asking for cash.

The longest woman in Ireland was from County Longford. No she was not!