Monday, March 9, 2015

"The heart of Ireland"

I have longed adored these two passages from Frank O'Connor's "In the Train." The short story appeared in a collection titled Bones of Contention, which was published in 1936. I want to tell you Van Morrison is channeling O'Connor in the track "Madame George," but I know that is impossible. Morrison's East Belfast classrooms would not have echoed with the words of O'Connor, an author who fought with the Free State forces during the Irish Civil War, served as director of the Abbey Theatre, spoke Irish, and palled around with William Butler Yeats.

Anyway, here are the two passages:
The engine shrieked; the porter slammed the door with a curse; somewhere another door opened and shut, and the row of watchers, frozen into effigies of farewell, now dark now bright, began to slide gently past the window, and the stale, smoky air was charged with the breath of open fields.
And while they talked the train dragged across a dark plain, the heart of Ireland, and in the moonless night tiny cottage windows blew past like sparks from a fire, and a pale simulacrum of the lighted carriage leaped and frolicked over hedges and fields.

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