A Memoirby Patrick Kavanagh
A county council quarry was opened in our vicinity. Among the quarry-men was one man named Bob. He was a stout fellow of thirty, brown-eyed and very quiet. For three months he passed our house on his way to work before we spoke to each other. He was usually reading a book—an Irish grammar. He was studying Gaelic.
Then one evening he came in to have his boot repaired. Bob was a flame. He touched the damp wood of my mind till sparks began to dance.
He talked on unusual themes. He mentioned Canon Law, syphilis, and irregular verbs. He recited verse, bad verse by critical standards, perhaps; Longfellow’s Evangeline and a translation of Dante by—I think—Cary.
He had tried his skill at verse-making himself. One poem of eleven lines he gave me; there were meant to be twelve lines, but he couldn’t get the last line. “For the past six months I’ve been trying to find that line,” he told me.
“Beside an Irish rath,” was the nearest he could get.