JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
Ireland has launched some of the greatest writers in English literature - Yeats, of course, also Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw - who made their literary careers in England.
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we asked another Irish expatriate for a James Joyce-ian take on our shores. Frank Delaney, who lives in Connecticut now, wrote this poem especially for WEEKEND EDITION, and it's called...
FRANK DELANEY: "Drowning the Shamrock." (Reading) Hail glorious Saint Patrick, dear saint of our isle, on us thy poor children, look down with a smile. But I'm not singing hymns and I'm not saying prayers. No, I'm gritting my teeth as I walk down the stairs and into the street with these louts fiercely drinking. And screeching and lurching, and here's what I'm thinking - they're using a stereotype, a narrow example, a fraction, not even a marketing sample to imitate Ireland, from which they don't come.
(Reading) So unless that's just stupid, unless it's plain dumb, all these kids from New Jersey and the five boroughs and hundreds of cities, all drowning their sorrows with bottles and glasses and heads getting broken. Believe me, just ask the mayor of Hoboken. All that mindlessness, shouting and getting plain stocious - that isn't Irish, that's simply atrocious. I've another word, too, for it, this one's more stinging, I call it racism. See, just 'cause you're singing some drunken old ballad on Saint Patrick's Day, does that make you Irish? Oh, no - no way. Nor does a tee-shirt that asks you to kiss them. If they never come back I surely won't miss them or their beer cans and badges and wild maudlin bawling and hammered and out of it, bodies all sprawling.
(Reading) They're not of Joyce or of Yeats, Wilde, or Shaw. How many Nobel Laureates does Dublin have? Four. Think of this as you wince through Saint Patrick's guano - not every Italian is Tony Soprano.
LYDEN: Author Frank Delaney reading "Drowning the Shamrock," which he wrote especially for WEEKEND EDITION in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
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LYDEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon returns next week. I'm Jacki Lyden.
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