W. B. Yeats At Bondi Beach

Conor Kelly was born in Dublin (1952) and spent his adult life teaching in a school in the Dublin suburbs. He retired to a small village in the Charente region of France to play boules, sample the local cuisine and run his twitter site, @poemtoday, dedicated to the short poem.

W. B. Yeats at Bondi Beach is based on the Irish poet's celebrated "Sailing to Byzantium," written when he was way past 50, in which he laments his inability to connect with the young Irish state and its youthful energy. He begins with the oft-quoted line, "That is no country for old men." To ease his depression, he has been sent to Australia. He is still not happy.

W. B. Yeats at Bondi Beach

Neither is this a country for old men.
Bronze boys on boards the curling crest has flung
Bow as the surf propels them and, again,
Bow in the shallows as they glide among
That laughing, waving, sun-tanned regimen
Of girls - bare-breasted, beautiful and young -
Whose beachball bounces past a poet dressed
In a dark suit, terminally depressed.

Who can distinguish darkness from the soul?
Who can, in post-coital solitude
Or in that unrelenting lust which stole,
Amongst these visions of the semi-nude,
Upon a bard tired of the bardic role,
Redeem those bodily and unsubdued
Desires or the intellect's dying spark
From the pure and aboriginal dark?

Last night I wrote my verses on the sand
Beneath the stage lights of the Southern Cross.
Though waves retreated at my mock command
And spared those chronicles of human loss,
A tidal flow mere words could not withstand
Surged and the poems drowned in a wave's toss:
An image, that, of life's audacious scurf
Cleansed by the superscription of the surf.

Lord of the stars that shine, the waves that sing
The limpid plain chant of eternity,
Relieve me of insistent questioning
On cabbalistic themes and let me be
Some bearded, ageless, underwater king
Cavorting in the shadow of the sea,
Beyond both human thought and human speech,
Among the mermaids, here, at Bondi Beach.