Homage to Hieronymus Bosch
A woman with no face walked into the light;
A boy, in a brown-tree norfolk suit,
To her seeming skirt.
And he stopped,
And I, in terror, stopped, staring.
Then I saw a group of shadowy figures behind her.
It was a wild wet morning
But the little world was spinning on.
Liplessly, somehow, she addressed it:
The book must be opened
And the park too.
I might have tittered
But my teeth chattered
And I saw that the words, as they fell,
Lay, wriggling, on the ground.
There was a stir of wet wind
And the shadowy figures began to stir
When one I had thought dead
Filmed slowly out of his great effigy on a tomb near by
And they all shuddered
He bent as if to speak to the woman
But the nursery governor flew up out of the well of Saint Patrick,
Confiscated by his mistress,
And, his head bent,
Staring out over his spectacles,
And scratching the gravel furiously, Hissed -
The words went pingg! like bullets,
Upwards, past his spectacles
Say nothing, I say, say nothing, say nothing!
And he who had seemed to be coming to life
Began hysterically, to laugh and cry,
And, with a gesture of impotent and half-petulant despair,
Filmed back into his effigy again.
High above the Bank of Ireland
Unearthly music sounded,
Then, from the drains,
Small sewage rats slid out.
They numbered hundreds of hundreds, tens, thousands.
Each bowed obsequiously to the shadowy figures
Then turned and joined in a stomach dance with his brothers and sisters.
Being a multitude, they danced irregularly.
There was rat laughter, Deeper here and there,
And occasionally she-rats grew hysterical.
The shadowy figures looked on, agonized.
The woman with no face gave a cry and collapsed.
The rats danced on her
And on the wriggling words
The nursery governor flew back into the well
With the little figure without hands in the brown-tree clothes.
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Comments about this poem (Homage to Hieronymus Bosch by Thomas MacGreevy )
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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
- Heather Burns
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)