But nothing whatever is by love debarred,
The common and banal her heat can know.
Yes, there were encouraging signs: schoolgirls
in green blazers and pleated skirts, the graciousness
of strangers, the mooring that gaped before us like a floodgate
hoarding into itself all the promises of this island. And the sea,
the sea reflected in the train windows. But could we really sense
on the platform, or while we dragged suitcases
through teeming streets (desperately flagging every cab),
or in the evening, as we wandered aimlessly along
the insipid Liffey, its gauntness, its half-repaired bridges
reminding us instead of the place we’d come from
(not to mention the drunk, stopping to piss by a lamppost)
could we have recognised then the joy tickling us,
which only afterward, in a room packed with people, smoke and songs
would slam into us bile-bitter, jagged, harsh as drink.