I Sing the Body Electric

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.
The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.
The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls silently to and fro in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sun-down after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d neck and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, count.
I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.
This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love,
He drank water only, the blood show’d like scarlet through the clear-brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail’d his boat himself, he had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.
This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor, all falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what was expected of heaven or fear’d of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable,
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.
This the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, man is born of woman,
This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the outlet again.
Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.
The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
She is all things duly veil’d, she is both passive and active,
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.
As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness, sanity, beauty,
See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.
The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
The flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is utmost become him well, pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes soundings at last only here,
(Where else does he strike soundings except here?)
The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the laborers’ gang?
Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.
(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)
Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?
A man’s body at auction,
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.
Gentlemen look on this wonder,
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll’d.
In this head the all-baffling brain,
In it and below it the makings of heroes.
Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.
Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.
Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not express’d in parlors and lecture-rooms?)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.
How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace back through the centuries?)
A woman’s body at auction,
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.
Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth?
If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful than the most beautiful face.
Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool that corrupted her own live body?
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.
O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and that they are my poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child’s, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s, father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!
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GAA and C of E

Saints and sinners

C’est la vie

Everyone is you and me.



Piss Factory” by Patti Smith
Sixteen and time to pay off
I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe
Forty hours thirty-six dollars a week
But it’s a paycheck, Jack.
It’s so hot in here, hot like Sahara
You could faint in the heat
But these bitches are just too lame to understand
Too goddamned grateful to get this job
To know they’re getting screwed up the ass
All these women they got no teeth or gum or cranium
And the way they suck hot sausage
But me well I wasn’t sayin’ too much neither
I was moral school girl hard-working asshole
I figured I was speedo motorcycle
I had to earn my dough, had to earn my dough

But no you gotta, you gotta (relate, babe,)
You gotta find the rhythm within
Floor boss slides up to me and he says
“Hey sister, you just movin’ too fast,
You screwin’ up the quota,
You doin’ your piece work too fast,
Now you get off your mustang sally
You ain’t goin’ nowhere, you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
I lay back. I get my nerve up. I take a swig of Romilar
And walk up to hot shit Dot Hook and I say
“Hey, hey sister it don’t matter whether I do labor fast or slow,
There’s always more labor after.”
She’s real Catholic, see. She fingers her cross and she says
“There’s one reason. There’s one reason.
You do it my way or I push your face in.
We knee you in the john if you don’t get off your get off your mustang Sally,
If you don’t shake it up baby.” Shake it up, baby. Twist & shout”
Oh that I could will a radio here. James Brown singing
“I Lost Someone” or the Jesters and the Paragons
And Georgie Woods the guy with the goods and Guided Missiles …
But no, I got nothin’, no diversion, no window,
Nothing here but a porthole in the plaster, in the plaster,
Where I look down, look at sweet Theresa’s convent
All those nurses, all those nuns scattin’ ’round
With their bloom hoods like cats in mourning.
Oh to me they, you know, to me they look pretty damn free down there
Down there not having crystal smooth
Not having to smooth those hands against hot steel
Not having to worry about the (inspeed) the dogma the (inspeed) of labor
They look pretty damn free down there,
And the way they smell, the way they smell
And here I gotta be up here smellin’ Dot Hook’s midwife sweat
I would rather smell the way boys smell–
Oh those schoolboys the way their legs flap under the desks in study hall
That odor rising roses and ammonia
And way their dicks droop like lilacs
Or the way they smell that forbidden acrid smell
But no I got, I got pink clammy lady in my nostril
Her against the wheel me against the wheel
Oh slow motion inspection is drivin’ me insane
In steel next to Dot Hook — oh we may look the same–
Shoulder to shoulder sweatin’ 110 degrees
But I will never faint, I will never faint


My Writing Life


BRENDAN BEHAN, seen here with Harpo Marx, often said ‘ I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem’. His brother, Brian, saw it slightly differently;   ‘What Brendan really was was a painter with a writing problem. No matter in what country of the globe he resided, or how many luminaries he met, the would always be a painter in his soul . If he had remained one for his livelihood, he could still be alive today’. In other words it was the fame that killed him just as much as the drink.

This is a poem that Dominic O’Riordan wrote about Brendan

I remember him riding the air

A mixture of Puck and the goban Saor

With ruffled shirt and hair astray

In Grafton Street on a gusty day

Respectable gents and maiden aunts

Held tightly in their briefs and pants

Lest their bowels…

View original post 37 more words


My Writing Life


I have just completed adapting the book SECRET CHILD, written by Gordon Lewis, to a stage play. SECRET CHILD is a true story, set in Dublin of the 1950’s and London of the 1960’s, and was published to great acclaim by Harper Collins in 2015.                                                  It tells the story of Gordon, a young boy born an ‘unfortunate’ onto the rough streets of 1950s Dublin and raised as as secret child in a home for unmarried mothers.  His mother was so determined to keep her child, she hid him from her own family and the rest of the world for nine years.

Despite the poverty, hardship and isolation, the pride and hope of this small community of women gave this boy the courage to dream and made…

View original post 65 more words

JOHN MARTYN -May You Never

John Martyn – May You Never

from album: Solid Air (1973)
May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold
May you never make your bed out in the cold
Verse 1
Your just like a great strong brother of mine and you know that I love you true
You never talk dirty behind my back and I know there are those that do
Won’t you please, won’t you please, won’t you bear in mind
Love is a lesson to learn in our time
Won’t you please won’t please won’t you bear in mind for me
May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold
May you never make your bed out in the cold
Verse 2
And your just like a good warm sister me and you know that I love you true
You hold no blade to stab me in the back and I know that some do
Won’t you please won’t you please won’t you bear in mind
Life is a lesson to learn in our time
Won’t you please won’t you please won’t you bear it mind for me
May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold
May you never make your bed out in the cold
Repeat verse 1
May you never lose your temper if you get hit in a bar room fight
May you never lose your woman over night
May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold
May you never make your bed out in the cold
May you never lose your temper if you get hit in a bar room fight
May you never lose your woman over night



I have just completed adapting the book SECRET CHILD, written by Gordon Lewis, to a stage play. SECRET CHILD is a true story, set in Dublin of the 1950’s and London of the 1960’s, and was published to great acclaim by Harper Collins in 2015.                                                  It tells the story of Gordon, a young boy born an ‘unfortunate’ onto the rough streets of 1950s Dublin and raised as as secret child in a home for unmarried mothers.  His mother was so determined to keep her child, she hid him from her own family and the rest of the world for nine years.

Despite the poverty, hardship and isolation, the pride and hope of this small community of women gave this boy the courage to dream and made anything seem possible.

The play will have a rehearsed reading  at the London Irish Centre, Camden, London NWI,  on Friday 9th August at 2.30pm – directed by John Dunne –  with hopefully a full production  later in the year. Watch this space!!

Below is a short video based on the book which received world-wide attention and won many awards at various film festivals all over UK, Europe and Worldwide.