Patrick Kavanagh

The Twelfth

The Twelfth of July, the voice of Ulster speaking,
Tart as week-old buttermilk from a churn,
Surprising the tired palates of the South.
I said to myself: from these we have much to learn - 
Hard business-talk, no mediaeval babble,
But the sudden knife of reality running to the heart
With experience. The pageantry of Scarva
Recalled the Greek idea of dramatic art.
The horse-dealers from the Moy or Banbridge.
The biblical farmers from Richhill or Coleraine.
All that was sharp, precise and pungent-flavoured - 
Ah, an Ulster imagined! For here from the train
At Amiens Street come gin-and-bitter blondes,
The slot-machines that give us all the "answers,"
And young men out of Ulster who will dare
To drive a wedge in Dublin's lounge-bar panzers.

(12 July 1943)

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