Patrick Kavanagh

A Knight at the Tournament

It was not Virgil I thought of last Friday at the Rotunda,
Or his verse which tells of huge-muscled fighters
In the Roman arena as they exhibited their bodies to the first-nighters -
I was thinking of what I would say on Monday:
Something that all readers would understand - a
Hint of Tunney's lefts and Dempsey's righters
In the Soldier's Field… Cole swings, Mulcahy sidesteps,
The fight is on and the audience roars like thunder.
Blood flows. O Cole, think back to Meath's great glory,
The battle fury of ancestors may descend
Upon you, but Mulcahy's footwork's perfect. Holy!
If that swing had got home the fight would end,
In the ninth round Mulcahy's science won.
Cole counted out. And here's your sonnet, Sir John.

(21 December 1942)
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