How Hibernia Left Her Mark

Met a ruddy cheeked white-haired, white-coated gentleman

with a favourite professor’s physiognomy who sang for us,

First in English, then in Gaelic,

Accompanied by guitar,

Having stumbled upon Sweny’s chemist

During Bloomsday week: “Oh, there IT is!”


Two painters outside whitening the doors

For two days hence, not sure if we should interrupt

And I think this is where Hibernia began to leave her mark,

That seductress of seduction seducing a solicitous soul

Left me knowing I’d be coming back

Or maybe I was returning to a place I’d left long ago.


Taking the manner in which she started shaping my soul back home with me,

Where is home now? Where is home?

Mysteriously having started her shaping in the pages read before this visit:

Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses,

Molloy, Malone Dies,



Soul finding more of itself

In the halls of Dublin Writers Museum

18 Parnell Square

Yeats, Stoker, Beckett beckoning sweetly,

Quick roll through Joyce Center

Rejoicing all the way down Eccles Street:

“I’m here, we’re here, splendiferous!”


On top of Martello Tower outside Dalkey,

Beach of Sandycove, Forty Foot pool,

Gentlemens Bathing Place,

Train from Dublin and walking there,

And off to Dan Laoghaire,

Literature coming to life with naked feet dipped in

Joyce’s “snotgreen” Irish Sea, Bay of Dublin


Lingering smells of body odour a century old

Trapped in the walls of the makeshift bedroom where

Joyce and friends once slept, James appropriately named

Guiding us on this tour

6 nights in Martello, One moment in time for us

Black panther lurking seductively by the fireplace

Like the Irish spirits in the air.


Back on the cobblestone streets of Dublin

Guinness porter soaked into our taste buds forever

360-degree view, Wicklow mountain water

Wandering for miles with Protestant-like work-ethic purposefulness

Soul knowing, listening to whispers of Soul whispering through the greyness,

“Mind the GPS on your iPhone”


O’ let me swim eternally in the energy of these streets

The smell of manure, of horse shit,

Sprinkled at flowers roots,

Of drunkard’s piss in alley ways,

St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of Dublin City,

Joyce’s bust front and center in the dribbling rain,

Thank you Sir Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun!

It’s raining, Onward Christian soldier.


The bust of James Joyce

Part of the purpose being getting lost

In streams of consciousness, okay to wander and saunter

Permission granted,

And in lostfulness somewhere around some quay on the Liffey

Finding a little bit of self again

Streams of life rushing in.


As we conversed with the chemist I was mournfully awakened

From an old dream,

To how little we know of our own heritage

Some of those stories that would’ve been shared by a father

Around a dinner table over desserts,

Just desserts:


We came here barefoot with some cows and horses,

Planted orange trees, watched them grow

Orange blossoms’ scents wafting over a freshly dug grave

Hands worked the soil of soul,

Chasing away the frozenness of life destroying winter

Squeeze the life out of the juice, Squeeze the juice out of life.


Soul stuck at times, not moving, like that

Frozen orange waiting to fall off the branch and die

Growing green-grey moldy in

Decomposition surrounded by flies

Orange and green his favourite colours

How sure the chemist was: “You are Irish! There’s a Hynes in Joyce.”


Returning to Orlando

6 hour, 30-minute flight to Philly

City of Brotherly love,

Catch a connection,

Pushing back a salty tear duct filling sea at times,


Smelling the salt of the Irish Sea, Bay of Dublin,

Firmly fixed in memory,

Hearing someone whispering:

“Hibernia’s in your soul now.”

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, June/July 2016

I wrote this on my iPhone on the way back from a first trip to Dublin with our oldest son.  Immediately upon awakening over the last week those whispers have met me each morning.  It’s one of the longest “poems” I’ve written and is largely unedited, but I had to obey those whispers and post it to this blog.  I hope you enjoyed!  Thank you for reading.


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