Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Ash Tosh

It takes an Irish poet to remind us of the grandeur of the European project: Seamus Heaney has raised the debate on the Lisbon treaty. A yes vote would be good for Ireland and the EU – and Iran, too.

That's the tosh according to Timothy Garton Ash, anyway.
In a rare and moving intervention, Ireland's greatest living poet, Seamus Heaney, has come out plainly for a yes to the Lisbon treaty and raised the whole debate to a different level. Recalling a memorable evening five years ago in Dublin's Phoenix Park when Ireland's EU presidency welcomed 10 new nations into the union, Heaney observes: "Phoenix renewed itself, just as the Union was renewing itself and continues to need to renew itself." Before reading aloud the poem (Beacons at Bealtaine) he wrote on that occasion, Heaney says, in a video clip recorded for last weekend's launch of the new Ireland for Europe campaign: "There are many reasons for ratifying the Lisbon treaty, reasons to do with our political and economic wellbeing, but the poem speaks mainly for our honour and ­identity as Europeans." And then he reads his verse, which includes this great line: "Move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare."
Ash seems to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the EU's worthless 'guarantees':
In addition, the Irish government has now secured cast iron assurances on many of the popular concerns that fed into last year's no vote: the spectres of conscription and abortion, the ring-fencing of Irish neutrality and the ­country's ability to set competitive tax rates, not to mention the fact that Ireland, along with all other member states, will retain its European ­commissioner.
As does Heaney.

How sad that a nation that fought for its independence from Britain seems so glad to simply give away its sovereignty to a corrupt, inefficient, wasteful and undemocratic super-state-in-waiting.

Anyway, here is Heaney's poem:
Beacons at Bealtaine
Phoenix Park, May Day, 2004

Uisce: water. And fionn: the water's clear.
But dip and find this Gaelic water Greek:
A phoenix flames upon fionn uisce here.

Strangers were barbaroi to the Greek ear.
Now let the heirs of all who could not speak
The language, whose ba-babbling was unclear,

Come with their gift of tongues past each frontier
And find the answering voices that they seek
As fionn and uisce answer phoenix here.

The May Day hills were burning, far and near,
When our land's first footers beached boats in the creek
In uisce, fionn, strange words that soon grew clear;

So on a day when newcomers appear
Let it be a homecoming and let us speak
The unstrange word, as it behoves us here,

Move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare
Like ancient beacons signalling, peak to peak,
From middle sea to north sea, shining clear
As phoenix flame upon fionn uisce here.
The Roma and plenty of other 'newcomers' have failed to find that 'homecoming' so far in Belfast and Dublin.

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