To be brought up Roman Catholic in Ireland in my generation and before, was to be brought up with with a strange mix of observance of hard fast doctrine on the conduct of one's life, and a wonderful belief in fantastical superstiton.I think this has a great deal to do with the richness of Irish literature.Anything is possible in a reality that can be influenced by supernatural events, where excessive pain is directly associated with love, where the icons of gentleness are sometimes gruesome.
It's a mix that brands itself, smoking, on the soul.
Though birds have nested
among the thorns, and the trunk
has grown wild with ivy,
his arms and legs
are still outlined in those sinews,
his belly is a knot of growth.
Deep in the withered leaves
shines an eye; a fish swims there;
he who eats the fish lives forever.
They say he was nailed to the tree,
well above the ground
so a soldier could lance his side
to satisfy the crowds
that fish swim in rivers,
wishes swim in blood.