[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]
The Irish Welcome
All the good drinks are unworthy! No food is too fine!
(Though you did hate them, you love them: you cannot decline).
Angels are with you! and ten million fairies and more!
— You will never speak ill of the Irish — you tap at the door!
A handshake can feel like a sorrow — a home like a jail:
When hearts are half-frozen, the elegant book-manners fail:
— Though you be son of the Enemy! black to the core!
You will have all the wealth of the Irish — you tap at the door!
Words are not welcome. ’Tis something too deep and too fine.
’Tis like a fiddle strung up — or the sun in the wine.
A welcome can come like a famine, and leave the heart sore;
But the warmth is all there in the Irish — you tap at the door!
A welcome is red with the summer, and hearty and bold:
’Tis something that drags you in, out of the dark and the cold:
— The saints are not far, you can feel them! The blessings all pour!
The leprechauns caper around you! — you tap at the door!
No matter how humble the table, it cannot be bare:
Of all that would put you to Heaven you take the full share:
You will have all the wealth of all Ireland — what could you have more?
The Irish! they make the world Irish! — you tap at the door!
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 124-125
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