epistemophilly

March 14, 2010

Thank God I Learned Some More

Filed under: arts and media — eify @ 12:02 pm

It’s hard to know what someone who didn’t grow up in Ireland will make of this poem. I thinking knowing a bit about who Pat Ingoldsby is, on-street poet, straight-talking Dub and guest of the Late Late Show when it had more to say, gives my reading an extra depth. It’s not even a poem from my generation, but if we want to understand the closed-minded, constrained Ireland of sin, silences and censorship, this poem, for me, describes the route towards intellectual liberation our stuffy little nation has as its trajectory (we can hope).

Then I Learned Some More
-Pat Ingoldsby

I used to believe
There were little men in the radio
There was nothing my father didn’t know
I must eat all my dinner to grow
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
A hand will grab me from under the bed
Fire engines are always red
I mustn’t sleep till my prayers are said
And then I learned some more

I used to believe

Pat Ingoldsby in Dublin

I’m a boy so I mustn’t cry
Priests go to heaven when they die
My tongue turns black if I tell a lie
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
You milk a cow with a three-legged stool
Black babies are a penny each at school
I must not call my brother a fool
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
Cabbage and carrots will make me strong
Sermons on Sunday are much too long
Every other church is wrong
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
America is good and Russia is bad
I mustn’t cry when I’m feeling sad
Anyone who acts strange is mad
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
English people have got horns on their heads
Only married people sleep in double beds
Big boys smoke in the bicycle sheds
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
If I get my sums right all is well
If I kiss a girl I must kneel and tell
If I enjoy it I’ll go straight to hell
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
My father has got all the money he needs
In Africa you buy things with beads
Sex has got something to do with seeds
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
All poor people eat bread and lard
The teacher is allowed to hit me hard
I must be tough outside in the yard
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
All Gaul is divided into three
Everybody knows about sex but me
There are parts of my sister I mustn’t see
And then I learned some more

I used to believe
The same road waits for every man
A good job has got a pension plan
Money is the measure of who I am
Thank god I learned some more

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