Poetry of Place

Maintaining its UNESCO City of Literature status, every year in April Dublin holds an event called One City, One Book, which aims to get the whole city reading the same book at the same time, a book which is somehow connected with Dublin. This year’s selection is If Ever You Go: a map of Dublin in poetry and song. I’m a little late to the party, I know, and not usually a poetry fan, but I picked up a copy yesterday and have already found a lot to like. The poems are arranged in the book geographically, spreading out from the Liffey, so you could easily bring the book with you on a wander and dip into it for little scene-specific poetry snacks as you go.

My favorite discovery in the book so far concerns the Guinness Brewery. I still have not been converted into a Guinness drinker, but this poem made me giggle so I just had to share it:

The Fall

The Garden of Eden (described in the Bible)
Was Guinness’s Brewery (mentioned by Joyce),
Where innocent Adam and Eve were created
And dwelt from necessity rather than choice; 

For nothing existed but Guinness’s Brewery,
Guinness’s Brewery occupied all,
Guinness’s Brewery everywhere, anywhere –
Woe the expulsion that succeeded the Fall! 

The ignorant pair were encouraged in drinking
Whatever they fancied whenever they could,
Except for the porter or stout which embodied
Delectable knowledge of Evil and Good. 

In Guinness’s Brewery, innocent, happy,
They tended the silos and coppers and vats,
They polished the engines and coopered the barrels
And even made pets of the Brewery rats. 

One morning while Adam was brooding and brewing
It happened that Eve had gone off on her own,
When a serpent like ivy slid up to her softly
And murmured seductively, Are we alone? 

O Eve, said the serpent, I beg you to sample
A bottle of Guinness’s excellent stout,
Whose nutritive qualities no one can question
And stimulant properties no one can doubt; 

It’s tonic, enlivening, strengthening, heartening,
Loaded with vitamins, straight from the wood,
And further enriched with the not undesirable
Lucrative knowledge of Evil and Good. 

So Eve was persuaded and Adam was tempted,
They fell and they drank and continued to drink
(Their singing and dancing and shouting and prancing
Prevented the serpent from sleeping a wink). 

Alas, when the couple had finished a barrel
And swallowed the final informative drops,
They looked at each other and knew they were naked
And covered their intimate bodies with hops. 

The anger and rage of the Lord were appalling,
He wrathfully cursed them for taking to drink
And hounded them out of the Brewery, followed
By beetles (magenta) and elephants (pink). 

The crapulous couple emerged to discover
A universe full of diseases and crimes,
Where porter could only be purchased for money
In specified places at specified times. 

And now in this world of confusion and error
Our only salvation and hope is to try
To threaten and bargain our way into Heaven
By drinking the heavenly Brewery dry. 

— Fergus Allen