I have just returned home from a trip to Kilrush in Co Clare, Ireland to visit the place of my father’s birth, and to see some of my family there. It has been far, far too long since I was there; I won’t say exactly, but far too long! The people were so friendly and by God the Guinness was good!
By pure chance, whilst I was in Ireland, a poet, John Pinschmidt from Limerick, which is just 40 miles away from Kilrush on the Shannon, stumbled across my blog and added a comment into the Your Paddy Thoughts section. It was a poem he wrote at the time of Paddy’s death in June 2011 and hs John’s personal tribute. Given that Ireland is a land full of saints, poets and scholars I thought it too much of a coincidence with my visit to leave it languishing in the tributes page so here is John’s poem …
A HIMBEERGEIST TOAST TO PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
“Live, don’t know how long,/And die, don’t know when;
Must go, don’t know where;/I am astonished I am so cheerful”.
—A Time of Gifts, 1977
Oh, to read your restless spirit had set off on its last journey,
Age 96, sent me into the parlour for A Time of Gifts
And back to 1933, your age-18 trek across Europe
As clouds gathered above a soon-to-be lost world,
Which changed your life as much as my age-21 Europe
Hitchhiking Summer of 1968, my time of gifts too.
Oh, to see again your rich cascades of words,
Riffs on decaying schlosses, Passion artworks,
Architecture as music, the drunken Breugel-like chaos of
Munchen’s Hofbrauhaus—where I had gone in ’68—the debauched
Bavarian Brownshirts portending days far darker than that night.
And later, in bitter weather near Linz, you had your first Himbeergeist.
Oh, that riff sent me searching the yew cupboard for an old bottle
From Deutschland, and I froze it and a Waterford glass,
And late that night, by fire and candlelight, drank too much of your
Clear spirit, reading your words out loud to you and all,
Young or old, who set out on life-changing journeys:
“Oh for a thimble full of the cold north! Fiery-frosty potions,
Sequin flashers, rife with spangles to spark fires in the bloodstream,
Revive fainting limbs, and send travellers rocketing on through
Snow and ice. White fire, red cheek, heat me and speed me”.
Prost, Siar go Deo, Paddy!
And just to embarrass John further, I have found a video on You Tube of him reading the poem at the Whitehouse Bar, O’Connell Street, Limerick.
Cathy/Cate, thanks for the kind, unexpected invite. My wife and I will sure try to make it—there are so many special memories from those school days. John (aka Mr. P.)
Mr. Pinschmidt, could we have the honor of your presence in Berlin 8-11 Nov 2013 at the BERLIN BRAT reunion? Cathy Speer ’85
Cate – you really meant 2013?
Tom, what can I say beyond thanking you again? So strange to see the poem getting an even higher profile—I just hope it might help more people to get into A Time of Gifts, the best place beyond your blog to get into this extraordinary man’s life story. All the best, John