Saturday, March 17, 2012

"The Queen's Guinness; or the slight of a pint," by M Bromberg

The Queen's Guinness; or the slight of a pint
M Bromberg

On the occasion of the first visit to Ireland
of a British monarch since 1911 --
one hundred years --
the Irish Republic put wrenching differences aside
and watched Elizabeth place a wreath
at the tomb of Irish martyrs
who died firing back at her country's troops
on Irish soil. Now was a moment of history
in which reconciliation seemed near.

Life is odd in that way, and politics often stranger.

But what unintended affront to the Irish nation
when during a tour of the Guinness brewery
her Highness Royal was offered a perfect pint:

the glass glinted in its welcome,
the foam majestic, the depths were black and deep.
The pint was humbly presented in a moment of co-operation
between two nations, an equal act of reconciliation
made from simple stuff, a draught
simply offered.

She turned away. The Prince,
her consort, dry as any traveler on the road,
looked longingly at the people's offering
and put politics ahead of any thirst.
With duty regimental, he stepped behind his Queen
and walked away,
his need as unslaked as any penitent to Cluny.

Marbh le tae agus marbh gan é!
"Murdered with tea, murdered without it ... "
The old Irish saying took on its ancient meaning.

Both sides felt the thirst.
History is made from lesser moments,
the difference between nations
witnessed in the slight of a pint.

Images from Queen Elizabeth's visit to the Guinness brewery in Dublin, May 17, 2011, from msnbc.

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