Tuesday, May 06, 2003

In the "nothing new under the sun" dept:

The following is a portion of a poem was written in the 18th century by an Irish poet. Notice especially the commentary on the corrupt courts and graft.
The following translation is by Seamus Heaney.
From _The Midnight Verdict_
Brian Merriman (c. 1745-1805)

Her words were grim when she got started.
"Get up” she said, “and on your feet!
What do you think gives you the right
To shun the crowds and the sitting court?
A court of justice, truly founded,
And not the usual rigged charade,
But a fair and clement court of women
Of the gentlest and regime.
The Irish race should be grateful always
For a bench so composed and wise
And in session now, two days and a night,
In the soaring fort on Graney Height.

Their king, moreover, has taken to heart
The state of the country; he feels its hurt
As if it were his own, and the whole
Of his entourage are aghast as well.
It’s goodbye to freedom and ancient right,
To honest dealing and leadership:
The ground ripped off and nothing put back,
Weeds in the field once crop is stacked.
With the best of the people leaving the land,
Graft has the under- and upper hand.
Just line your pockets, a wink and a nod.
And to hell with the poor! Their backs are broad.

Alas for the plight of the underclass
And the system's victims who seek redress:
Their one recourse is the licensed robber
With his legalese and his fancy slabber.
Lawyers corrupt, their standards gone,
Favouritism the way it's done,
The bar disgraced, truth compromised,
Nothing but kick-backs, bribes and lies.

To add to which, the whole assembly
Decreed on the Bible this very day:
The youth has failed, declined, gone fallow —
Bad news and bad marks, sir, for you.
In living memory, with birth rates fallen
And marriage in Ireland on the wane,
The country's life has been dissipated,
Pillage and death have combined to waste it.
Blame arrogant kings, blame emigration,
But it's you and your spunkless generation.
You're a source blocked off that won't refill.
You have failed your women, one and all.

Translated from the Irish by Seamus Heaney in _The Midnight Verdict_, The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, 1993. ©

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