Bilkent University, Turkey | Published: 18 December, 2023 | Views:
ISSUE 18.2 | Pages: 128-133 | PDF | DOAJ |

Creative Commons 4.0 2023 by JOE LINES | This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged for access.

Irish Gothic 1

O’Connell Street. We pay the fare

to board the famous coach

with its orange and blue livery.

The first task is to escape the castle.

Then the road leads north

as the osprey flies, the highway empty,

dawn far off. We skip towns

and villages, and glide inconspicuous

into the highlands. Scots pine

and Sitka spruce lower

and obscure road-signs and the moon.


An amateur historian in the seat behind

tries to engage us in the exact glen

where Redmond and his gang would ride

to extract tolls from villagers,

dodge soldiers and the tory hunter,

hover blurred in bracken, watch the road,

lie down on the cold ground

with earthworms and the devil’s coach-horse

— somewhere around here, it is said.


The passengers scroll or snore.

Chair jacked all the way back,

one swoons in a vision

of a silk-curtained four-poster,

reins jangling from the yard,

a tattoo of hooves across the ceiling,

the invention of the flintlock pistol.

Onward. Spires, bells: we go like the clappers.


A PhD student from Kolkata

returning from a conference at Trinity

can’t sleep. He checks his rucksack:

passport, visa.

He skimmed across the border the other way

two days ago, scot-free

but still, he’s thinking of the coach waylaid

on some high and desolate pass,

the doors exhaling, the others barely waking

as the bad men pace the aisle.




Irish Gothic 2

These letters were discovered in a fragmentary state

inside a crate of marbles sent from Livorno to Cork.


My dear friend if my name still awakens some memory

we were companions at the drawing school on George’s Lane


remember the figure class in which Poulter swallowed a black chalk

or the competition to copy the small bust of Cicero


your piece won the two guinea premium your eye was the best

it is my sincere hope that your talents have not


The Academy in Dublin annually vomits forth an immense pictorial fry

who fall short of their expected attainments.


sent to Rome to study the Italian masters

sent to London but did not continue long


lived in a cave in the Abruzzi and fed upon the flesh of goats

living in the Palazzo Zuccari where the English and many of our nation choose to stay.


They are unscrupulously imitative

in style, and unqualified for either Fame or Patronage.


In Rome the marketplace of pictures and sculptures

the quadrari lay the landscapes on the pavement without frames


dealers and gentlemen pass by and appraise each view

wind-whipped storm clouds oak and olive tresses maids captured by brigands


the style commonly called ‘egg and spinach’

I sold half a dozen unsigned to the Earl of


Their talents are immature

and their lives replete with disappointments and sorrow.


My long assistance in the studio of the eminent

I add the figures to my master’s landscapes


his genius the immense mountains and vaunting skies

mine the detail rider farmhand pedlar thief


from his attic thick with fumes

I soar above the dusty campagna like the ossifrage


that migrates from Egypt to the Alps watching the slopes

for carrion for lambs strayed from the flock


Any reader with information relating to these correspondents

is urged to write privately.



Irish Gothic 3

A bare field; dawn light; prevailing wind.

Enter architects with pins and strings,

bearing the banner of their floor plans.

They pace out lengths of ground.


Spotlight on Earl-Bishop Hervey, stage left

at his writing-desk.

Hervey: My Irish house is building.

Sounds of hammering.

Black and white tiles dance

their steps across the grass,

bricks throng to form the gallery walls.


Enter Placido Columbani, with trowel

and bucket. He applies stucco

to the stone, fashions each intricate frieze.

They dry. Sound of the wind.

Columbani: His paintings have arrived.

Four carts pull up loaded with hay.

Men unpack, unbind and hang

the Raphaels and Titians

along the sweep of wall.

A cameo from Hervey:

he shifts one painting slightly upwards and left,

then flits offstage.

Columbani: The maestro at work!

Enter Lady Hervey, who paces up and down,

watches for high tide through the windows,

sends a servant to Castlerock for letters.

One has come from Turin.

Lady Hervey (reading the letter): Across the Alps already? How quickly he rides.

Harp music, voices raised in song,

wine-corks discharging, horses’ hooves.

Enter the Volunteers, marching in formation,

with silver tea-kettles and picnic hampers.

The Volunteers: Up Hervey!

The bog outside flowers with green foliage.

Enter Arthur Young, with clipboard.


……….Young: 200,000 trees planted,

………..60 acres of land drained

……… the medium of two hundred spades.


Enter Hervey. He admires the finish

on the view, gives credit to the agent

and landscape designer,

hands out souvenirs from Rome:

tiny pewter fountains and obelisks.

He apologises that he has not brought enough for everyone.

Hervey: I cannot breathe in small rooms.

Exit Hervey. Darkness falls,

with the plumes of flour cast by the maid

on the tiled gallery floor.