Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts on St. Paddy's Day

Or call it, Rick Scott in another age.

What I have been doing is some research on a book I have been writing when I came across an old poem dedicated to a rack renter landlord in Ireland in the 1890 time frame.

When the family and I went to Ireland in 2007 we visited an old manor home called Portumna Castle in east Galway. Inside were some paintings of the family members that ran the estate. Finding them interesting I snapped a pic of each of the portraits, really not knowing why.

I researched them this morning, I discovered I was staring into the face of one of the worst rack renters in Irish history and who perhaps had a hand in the removal of one of my ancestors from County Galway.

I give you Hubert George de Burgh, 2nd Marques, 14th Earl of Clanricarde. There he is.

The reason he's here is simple: even as we speak people are being evicted from their homes. Different from many foreclosures, these are folks whose banks are using robo-signatures and other illegal methods to speed the illegal foreclosure process. So too, the very people who teach our young are being muscled, and administrated out of their positions.

Where in Clanricarde's day, a land agent used a battering ram against the side of the house, for renters who couldn't make the extortionate payments of their landlords; today we have robosigned documents ousting people from their upside down mortgages just when they almost get rightside up.

I think bankers, financiers and elected officials need to tread very carefully around the boiling kettle of public distaste all of this mess has engendered within the American public. While corporate media has many of us like lemmings following the party of the tea, the people who have been and are being boosted from their homes ILLEGALLY are waking up to who is really at fault for all this - bankers and Wall Street thugs - and to the fact that much of this was done in a DELIBERATE EFFORT which is on-going TO DESTROY THE MIDDLE CLASS.

We have to combine what has happened with the outrage of the oil spill to understand THAT ALL OF THIS IS INTENTIONAL and some of the very same people claiming to be outraged at an alleged scheme for a communist take-over and being paid under the table to ship even the bad jobs to China.

This poem from the past could just as easily be a warning from our future.

By “Brigid”, reply to Hubert George de Burgh-Canning 2nd Marques and 14th Earl of Clanricarde
Portumna County Galway, Ireland
Circa 1890

So you say we are cunning, ungrateful
Our cabin doors kept on the latch
Show nothing but squalor within them
While money we’ve hid in the thatch.

That we smile in the face of “his honor”
And blessings invoke on his track
While we mutter a curse as he leaves us
And shake the clenched fist at his back.

But you don’t give a hint, my Lord Marquis
That we dared not to own those few pounds
Or show signs of comfort around us
For fear of your sharp scented hounds.

For fear of your spies and informers
On the watch to report to their lords
If their serfs had coin in their pockets
Or a decent meal on the boards.

And you hint not , at times not long vanished
When ye chased us to woods and the caves
Where we wailed over the corpse of our freedom
A poor stricken nation of slaves.

We are cunning, aye we needed cunning
When our lives were scarce held as right
And plundered unarmed and unlettered
T’was our last weapon left for the fight.

It was men such as you taught us cunning
As up these old tales we must rip
When for Limerick’s trust they repaid us
With pitch-cap and gallows and whip.

When we dared not stand upright and fearless
As men should on their own native sod
Nor dared the faith of their fathers
Save in secret to worship our god.

Can it be your Lordship in College
Never heard a text all should know
Coming straight from the lips of our savior
Men should only reap as they sow?

Why the words of our poor hunted teachers
That ever kept school by the hedge
Could tell that if fathers eat sour things
Their children’s teeth will be on edge.

And when savage things scattered the cockle
Through our lands years early to late
Till it choked the wheat of good feeling
You must now reap a harvest of hate.

Then your Lordship says “nothing would please them”
Though you take but the corn and the wine
And leave us with freehanded bounty
The husks in the trough with the swine.

Oh specimen peer of our rulers
Great the anger with which you give breath
But no doubt we are very ungrateful
For rack rents, evictions and death.

For fevered ones homeless at Christmas
Cast out by the snowy ditch side
While my lord draws his ermine around him
And scoffs at their rags in his pride.

Ah my lords, up to this it was your day
Our bent necks were held in your thrall
For you were soft ease and rich plenty
For us were the labor and gall.

But today we feel life in our members
Good blood each vein flows apace
Tis not the clenched fist to your back now
But sturdy demand to your face.

Cling not to your old rules they are broken
Old customs have rotted away
Ireland must be at length for the Irish
No more in strange lands shall you squander.

What this land our labor has sown
As of old fell the horse and the rider
You are now overthrown

*Hubert George was an absentee landlord who scarcely set foot in his Irish estate, using a number of land agents to evict 243 tenant farmers, and their families, between 1890 and 1893, for as little as 5 pounds sterling owed in arrears. He was condemned by fellow members of the English Parliament for his cruelty to his tenants.

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