"A Clap on the Back" for Kuno Meyer on the Occasion of his Fiftieth Birthday.
This poem was found among the papers of the late Professor David Greene. His granddaughter Hilary Jenkinson gave CELT permission to put it online. It is complete, handwritten in a neat and tidy hand on strong paper, with leaves sewn together. The metre has been identified by Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin, School of Irish Learning, UCC, as a Deibhidhe baise fri tóin. The circumstantial evidence of a poem fragment signed J.S. for Meyer's 40th birthday, and of the Old Irish metre we see here used for a composition in English, whose name is even reflected in the humorous title "Clap on the Back", might point to John Strachan as its author.
He was four years younger than Meyer, and both were active at the School of Irish Learning at Dublin. Meyer's birthday was on 20 December 1908; however Strachan died in September 1907. If he was the author, and this attribution is only tentative, he must have composed it some time in advance. It would add poignancy to the verses, in which the author wishes Meyer a long life — another fifty years.
To Valhalla, where carouse
Zeuss and Zumpt, where Pott & Bopp
In this age
When the Pessimists allege
That we're all too old at — when?
When they croak
Foolish Fears for Feeble Folk
Our retort were "Sirs, do you know
Is a theme that might inspire
Balder bards than I to worse
Like a rock
That has stood the tempest's shock
Kuno at this vain world's wiles
His great name
Puts all lesser lights to shame.
Making feats that we think tall
It's all right
If the King makes Lodge a Knight,
Or some local board does Gonner
He's at peace
When Glyn Davies raves at Rhys.
Or when stern Campagnac threatens
When dear Strong
Finds the modern girl quite wrong:
Or when John L. Myres abets
Or when Dale
At some ruptured rule turns pale,
Or when terror strikes Londini
Calls down vengeance from on high
On the 'jolter-heads' (who smack
When we all
Fret and fume, and rage and bawl
We know One these things don't touch
See! he beams
On our joys, our hopes, our dreams,
Though he does not care one — (hem!)
All the earth
Tribute pays to Kuno's worth,
All — perhaps I should leave out
And Gwenogfryn Evans — but
After all, does that man there
So I raise
This full glass in Kuno's praise,
Wishing him, with heart and soul
May you live
While this world has aught to give!
And when tedium wafts you sky-
May none carp
When you bag the biggest harp!
May the cloud on which you sit
For more information on Meyer's papers, see link to University of Liverpool Archive https://sca-archives.liverpool.ac.uk/Record/64852.
Page compiled by Beatrix Färber, November 2020.