Thursday, 4 January 2018

Brendan the Navvy

Dante of Florence mined for inspiration
Was content to trawl in another nation
For his plot and players in his Comedy Divine,
A legend now; a man then, Brendan the Navvy
Preaching and teaching, building, no compass
No trowel, no level or vertical line.
Christian parents, Finnlugh and Cara,
Cousins of valour; Niall of the Nine,
From Tralee of the Kingdom, bound for another,
With sandals and staff he travelled the land,
Called fourteen companions of heart and of hand
Surveyed the Atlantic with Erc, druid brother.
In 551 he mounted the waves riding a scallop-shell boat,
An Arc by design on damp willow bough
Lashed to the weatherproof skin of a goat.
The signal of sun, the power of the moon,
Newfoundland first, Bahamas and further,
A miracle kept the Curragh afloat.

They brave, refereed a rare confrontation
A fight to the death between pussy and shark
While Florida beckoned on Western shore,
Festivus decreed Mississippi too wide
Land of Promise; mirage of the haughty and vain,
High time and tide for Aran once more.
Eight leagues to the west of sultry Gomera
Brendan found his island on Tuesday I’m told
On Tuesday at fifteen or twenty past ten,
He found a lost island, he lost a found island,
I wonder if that land is low land or highland,
By noontime on Wednesday he lost it again.

(dedicated to Brendan the Navigator, who drew the maps for Christopher Columbus.)


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