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Archive for March, 2012

 Introduction

 “These poems are dedicated to my father, Jimmy Dale Peacock (born in Selma, Arkansas), who instilled in me a love of the South and a sense of what home truly is.”
Keiron Peacock in the dedication of his collection of poems

This material is obviously not part of my own writings. Instead, it is a collection of poems written by my younger son Keiron, an avid outdoorsman. I am publishing them here on my blog in two parts to honor Keiron on his forty-second birthday (March 29).

Even a cursory glance at the table of contents of Keiron’s poems will reveal that he shares his father’s love of the land, the past, family, traditions, home, etc. In addition, he has a great love for hunting, a marvelous sense of humor, and a tremendous talent for writing—especially for composing poems about the subjects that appeal to him. Not only did he write all of these poems, he also organized his writings, breaking them into subjects such as the Peacock family genealogy, Peacock family poems, and “huntin’ poems,” all of which place a strong emphasis on land.

The one striking difference between Keiron’s writing and his father’s is that while he shares totally his father’s love of all these things related to home and land, he demonstrates an ability his father totally lacks to transfer those feelings from Southeast Arkansas to Northeast Oklahoma. This fact is evident in the title and subtitle of his writing, From the Delta to the Deep Fork (the Oklahoma river where Keiron has his land): Huntin’ My Way Home, and in his poems such as the one titled “This Place Will Be OK.”

So in a way, his writings are even more interesting than his father’s because they are not tinged with the melancholy that is so pervasive in the elder Peacock’s lamentations, longing for the past, and nostalgia for a time and place that are now “Gone With the Wind.”

Now let’s begin our examination of Keiron’s poems which will be featured in this post and the next one. I have inserted endnotes into the copy at the end of some of the poems to explain some of the names, places, and objects that may not be familiar to you.

From the Delta to the Deep Fork:
Huntin’ My Way Home

By Keiron Peacock

Dedication

These poems are dedicated to my father, Jimmy Dale Peacock (born in Selma, Arkansas), who instilled in me a love of the South and a sense of what home truly is.

Also to the men of Company D of the Third Arkansas Infantry, organized in Selma and the only Arkansas regiment in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Some of these men died for the Confederate States of America. As one of their descendants, I will pass on to my sons the values these veterans cherished, among which are: a love of Christ, a love of family, and a love of Southern Land.

Contents

I. Peacock Family Genealogy

II. Peacock Family Poems

Peacock Seed
Where We’re Bound to Be
The Land My Grandpas Called Home
The Old Marlins

I. Peacock Family Genealogy

Samuel Peacock I (1680s-1740s)
b. VA (?)
d. NC (?)

Samuel Peacock II (1705-1793)
b. NC (?)
d. Johnston Co., NC

Samuel Peacock III (1730-1848)
b. Bertie Co., NC
d. Washington Co., GA

Levi Peacock (1756-1822)
b. Johnston (now Wayne) Co., NC
d. Wilkinson Co., GA

Jesse Peacock (1792-1870)
b. Wayne Co., NC
d. Drew, Co., AR

Dr. J.W.A. Peacock (1826-1864)
b. Wilkinson Co., GA
d. Drew Co., AR

George Levi Peacock (1851-1927)
b. Wilkinson Co., GA
d. Drew Co, AR

Thomas Benjamin Peacock (1880-1958)
b. Drew Co., AR
d. Drew Co., AR

Arthur Lampton Peacock (1904-1954)
b. Drew Co., AR
d. Desha Co., AR

Jimmy Dale Peacock (1938-)
b. Drew Co., AR

Sean Conrad Peacock (1966-)
b. Chicot Co., AR

Keiron Barrett Peacock (1970-)
b. Craighead Co., AR

Levi Jesse Peacock (2000-)
b. Tulsa Co., OK

Thomas Benjamin Peacock (2002-)
b. Tulsa Co., OK 

II. Peacock Family Poems

Peacock Seed

When the first Peacock crossed the sea,
I wonder, could he have conceived,
That his ancient memory
Would someday wind up in me?

Generations and years would pass,
Wars and famines last;
Would survive the Peacock seed
To someday wind up in me?

The places they would choose to stay,
So long ago and far away;
The lives these men would live and die,
Their God, their land, their pride?

What are the things they would have liked?
What would have prompted them to fight?
How is it that this ancient seed
Somehow wound up in me?

Women married Peacock men,
The blood slightly changed again;
Each of ten had a son,
Just as I, the eleventh, have done.

It’s in the name that we’ve all shared,
It’s in the children for whom we’ve cared;
How is it that the Peacock seed
Still flows today in me?

The looks and faces have all changed,
But Peacock blood still remains;
The story nowhere near its end,
Passed from father to son, my friend.

And so our tale will still be told,
So new, so sweet, so old;
I’m thankful that the Peacock seed
Flows in me and my posterity. 

Where We’re Bound to Be

If I loaded up my john boat
With my young’uns and my dog,
Could I float back a hundred years
And see my great-grandpa?

Catfish

Keiron and sons Ben (left), and Levi (right) in Keiron’s john boat

I know the trip would take a while,
We could hunt along the way.
And when we reached South Arkansas,
That’s where we would stay.

We’d climb those tall pine trees
And hunt those whitetail deer.
We’d sit around the campfire,
Oh, the stories we would hear.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

We’d float Bayou Bartholomew
To see what we would see.
Then we’d camp on Peacock land,
That’s where we’re meant to be.

I don’t know why the first Peacock
Came over here to stay.
I’m bettin’ he was fed up
With the British ways.

Last night I dreamed I saw him
As he set foot on this land.
He thanked the Lord and said,
“Here’s where I’ll raise the Peacock clan.”

“I’ll climb North Carolina trees
And hunt those whitetail deer.
I’ll sit around the campfire
Oh, the stories I will hear.

I’ll float the Meherrin River
To see what I can see.
Then I’ll camp on Peacock land,
That’s where I’m meant to be.”

I dreamed that Grandpa Peacock
Paid me a call.
He came to see those boys of mine
While they were still small.

Daddy as a young man

Keiron’s paternal grandfather Arthur Peacock

I took him to my huntin’ hole
Down ‘round Welty way.
He took a look at my land,
This was what he had to say.

“Let’s climb those mud-stained trees
And hunt those whitetail deer.
Let’s sit around the campfire,
Oh, the stories we will hear.

Let’s float the Deep Fork River
To see what we will see.
Then let’s camp on Peacock land,
That’s where we’re meant to be.”

I dreamed of a reunion
In the sweet bye and bye.
All my kin was there
With tear drops in their eyes.

And before I got to find out
All the things I need to know,
They handed me a musket, said,
“Come on, boy, let’s go!”

We climbed heaven’s trees
And hunted whitetail deer.
We sat around the campfire,
Oh, the stories we did hear.

We floated the Jordan River
To see what we could see.
Then we camped on Peacock land,
That’s where we’re meant to be.

If I loaded up my john boat
With my young’uns and my dog,
Could I float back a hundred years
And see my great-grandpa?

I know that will not happen,
But if I try anyway,
I’ll be meetin’ up with my kin,
It just won’t be today.

They’re climbing heaven’s trees
And huntin’ whitetail deer.
They sittin’ ‘round the campfire,
Oh, the stories they must hear!

They’re floatin’ the creeks and bayous
To see that they will see.
They’ve set up camp on Peacock Land.
They’re waitin’ there for me.

Notes:

Verse 1: “My young’uns and my dog.” The “young’uns” referred to here are the author’s two sons, Levi Jesse Peacock (born March 22, 2000, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and named for two North Carolina-born Peacock ancestors) and Thomas Benjamin “Ben” Peacock (born on May 31, 2002, in Tulsa and named for Keiron’s great-grandfather from Southeast Arkansas). The dog was a border collie named Codee.

Verse 1: “My great-grandpa.” The great-grandfather of Keiron Peacock, author of this poem, was Thomas Benjamin Peacock (1880-1958) of Selma, Arkansas. The float trip referred to here would be descending the Arkansas River from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to where it empties into the Mississippi River in Southeast Arkansas near Selma.

Verse 2: “When we reached South Arkansas.” Keiron Peacock was born in Jonesboro (Craighead County), in Northeast Arkansas; however, his immediate ancestors were all from Selma (Drew County) in Southeast Arkansas. At almost eight years of age Keiron was brought to Oklahoma when his parents moved there from Southeast Arkansas in 1977.

Verse 4: “We’d float Bayou Bartholomew.” Bayou Bartholomew begins in Southeast Arkansas and flows in a serpentine route into Northeast Louisiana where it empties into the Ouachita (Wash-ah-taw) River. Locals claim it is the longest bayou in the world. (To read my earlier post of two book reviews about Bayou Bartholomew, click here.)

Verse 5: “Fed up with the British ways.” Keiron’s Peacock ancestors are thought to be have migrated to America from England. Although there was a William Peacock, a boy of sixteen, at the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, in the early 1600s, there is as yet no evidence linking him to Keiron’s family line.

Verse 7: “Climb North Carolina trees.” The first known Peacock in Keiron’s ancestral line (Samuel I) makes his appearance in records in North Carolina in 1720. He may actually have come earlier from Tidewater Virginia or Maryland.

Verse 8: “”Float the Meherrin River.” Wherever Samuel Peacock came from originally, his first homestead was in North Carolina along the Meherrin River near the Virginia line.

Verse 9: “Dreamed that Grandpa Peacock.” Grandpa Peacock would be Arthur Lampton Peacock (1904-1954), a livestock dealer who was born in Selma (Drew County), Arkansas, and died in McGehee (Desha County), Arkansas, where he had moved in 1948 to carry on his cattle business at the McGehee Livestock Auction. (To read my earlier post about Arthur Peacock, click here.)

Verse 10. “Down ’round Welty way.” Welty (Okfuskgee County), Oklahoma, is the site of Keiron’s hunting land, some forty miles from his present home in Sapulpa (Creek County), Oklahoma. This land is the first owned by anyone in Keiron’s immediate family line since the sale of his grandfather Peacock’s home place in Selma, Arkansas, about a half-century ago.

Verse 12: “Float the Deep Fork River.” The Deep Fork River runs through the hunting land of Keiron Peacock on the border between Creek and Okfuskgee Counties in Northeast Oklahoma.

Verse 17. “With my young’uns and my dog.” This verse was changed from “young’un” in 2002 when Keiron’s second son Thomas Benjamin “Ben” Peacock was born.

The Land My Grandpas Called Home

Now that I’ve grown
When I think of home
It brings different things to mind.

I remember a boy
Filled with joy
To live on South Arkansas time.

When I was eight
I was taken away
And moved to the Indian Land.

They planned to go back
But they got sidetracked
The next thing you know I’m a man.

If I followed that road
Could it take me home
To the Delta where I once belonged?

Where my forefathers lay
In their Arkansas graves
In the land that ole Grover called home.

Grover Williams

Keiron’s maternal grandfather Grover Williams

Land there is flat
Mosquitoes are bad
The cotton grows tall in the fields.

Whitetails get big
Turkeys longlegged
The catfish they say are unreal.

If I launched my johnboat
Could I somehow float
To the Delta where I once belonged?

Where my forefathers lay
In their Arkansas graves
In the land that ole Arthur called home.

Evidence is found
On this still sacred ground
Where Confederates once made a stand.

They packed out their load
Down Old Military Road
To go and defend the Southland.

Selma Methodist Church

The Selma Methodist Church with the sunken Old Military Road right in front of it (click on photo to magnify)

If I remember those men
Could they form ranks again
In the Delta where they once belonged?
Where my forefathers lay in Confederate graves
In the land that my grandpas called home.

Fathers passed down
Plots of ground
And were laid to rest very close.

Would they have believed
Their descendants would be
Spread out from coast to coast?

If I called to the land
Could my generation band
In the Delta where we once belonged?
Where our forefathers lay in their Arkansas graves
In the land that our grandpas called home.

I’ve put away my toys
I’m no longer a boy
There are young’uns that I call my own.

My mission’s now clear
I must buy land here
And make Oklahoma our home.

Could my Honda Fourtrax
Four-wheel me back
To the place where that young boy belonged?

Where his forefathers lay
In their Mt. Tabor graves
In the land that his grandpas called home.

In the land that my grandpas called home.

JWA Peacock grave

Grave of Dr. J.W.A. Peacock, Keiron’s great-great-great grandfather, in cemetery behind the Mount Tabor Methodist Church near Selma, Arkansas

Notes:

Verse 6: “That ole Grover called home.” Grover Williams was Keiron’s maternal grandfather. (To read my tribute to him titled “The Passing of a Real Man,” click here.)

Verse 10: “That ole Arthur called home.” Arthur Peacock was Keiron’s paternal grandfather.

Verse 12: “Down old Military Road.” The Old Military Road ran through Selma, Arkansas, to the Mississippi River where local Confederate troops boarded steamboats for transportation to Civil War battlefields in faraway Virginia. Vestiges of the Old Military Road can still be seen in front of the historic Selma Methodist Church.

Verse 20: “In their Mt. Tabor graves.” Mt. Tabor Methodist Church, where many of Keiron’s ancestors on both his mother’s and his father’s sides are buried, was established by his great-great-great-great-grandfather Jesse Peacock and others.

The Old Marlins

I reach into my gun case
Sometimes just for fun.
I pull from the back row
And old and battered gun.

The hexagon barrel reads:
“Patented . . . 1887.”
Owned by my mother’s grandpa
Who, long ago, went to heaven.

Pawpaw and Nanny

Keiron’s great-grandfather Edgar Conrad and his great-grandmother Isavillar Conrad at their fiftieth wedding anniversary

I’ve caught a glimpse of him
Staring across his land
His saddled mule beneath him
This Marlin in his hands.

Thirty-two Winchester
Was the caliber he chose.
I’ve been heard to ask the rifle
When last its barrel rose.

I traveled with my father
To see his brother recently.
As we sat and spoke
My uncle handed me

A weapon he’d been given
By his “Grandpa Tom.”
When my eyes fell upon it
My heart began to throb.

Tom and Simmie Peacock

Keiron’s great-grandfather Thomas Benjamin “Tom” Peacock and great-grandmother Simeon Marius “Simmie” Peacock

I held there in my hands
My great-grandpa’s property.
Exactly the same firearm
Inherited by me.

Both men lived and died
In southeast Arkansas.
Both carried lever-action
Marlins in their paws.

Did they buy them in McGehee
At the hardware store?
Were they picked from Sears and Roebuck
And “ordered off for”?

The lever’s frozen on Pa-Pa’s gun
Fifty years since it went “bang.”
I love it the way it is
I’ll never change a thing

Notes:

Verse 2: “Patented . . . 1887.” Actually reads: “Patented October 11, 1887.”

Verse 8: “Buy them in McGehee?” McGehee, Arkansas, the hometown of Keiron’s parents and grandparents and the nearest city to the homes of his great-grandparents.

Verse 9: “On Pa-pa’s gun.” Pronounced “Paw-Paw.”

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“There are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish they were.”
—Irish Saying

“God created whiskey to keep the Irish from conquering the world.”
—Sign I once saw hanging in a shop

In last week’s post I offered some St. Patrick’s Day tributes and trivia.

In this week’s post I offer some of my favorite Irish quotes with my emphasis in italics and my comments in parentheses. They are referenced by the source from which I lifted them.

To begin, here is a quote from one of my favorite traditional Irish songs:

“Though lovely and fair as the rose of the summer
Yet, ‘twas not her beauty alone that won me.
Oh no! ‘Twas the the truth in her eye ever dawning
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.”
—“The Rose of Tralee”

I often sing this song but change “Mary, the Rose of Tralee” to “Mari, the Rose of McGehee.” To hear the song and see the lyrics, click here and watch the roses slowly change colors. The pink ones are Mari’s “signature color.”

From John Ford’s film The Quiet Man:

“Sure, and he’s not the man he used to be.”
“Aye, and never was! Maybe he’ll fall and break his neck . . . God willin’.”

Celebrity Quotes from the Brainy Quotes Website
(to view the site in its entirety, click here):

Irish card

Irish shamrocks on a St. Patrick's Day card from American Greetings (copyright AGC LLC)

“Being Irish is very much a part of who I am. I take it everywhere with me.” (Me too, and I’m only half-Irish.)

—Colin Farrell

“Being Irish was a big thing for me, particularly growing up in Chicago.” (Me too, growing up in rural Southeast Arkansas, of all places!)

—Lara Flynn Boyle

“But I will say that living in Ireland has changed the cadence and fullness of speech, since the Irish love words and use as many of them in a sentence as possible.” (So do I! I am very proud of my speech. It’s the way an Irishman would sound if he were born and raised in Arkansas–the American Ireland!)

—Anne McCaffrey

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” (That’s me! It’s why I say that before her wedding every bride should be given a medical report of just how much Irish blood is in her groom! If you don’t think I’m serious, ask Mari, who says, “Before I married Jimmy I had never known a person whose moods were affected by the weather! Like the Oklahoma weather, Jimmy’s moods can change from one extreme to the other—in a matter of minutes!”)

—William Butler Yeats

“Even when they have nothing, the Irish emit a kind of happiness, a joy.” (Also lots of Irish melancholy—see the above quote.)

—Fiona Shaw

“I had that stubborn streak, the Irish in me I guess.” (Me too—good thing I’m only half-Irish!)

—Gregory Peck

“I have a thing for red-haired Irish boys, as we know.” (Oh, Sandra darlin’, if I had to be Irish why couldn’t I have been lucky enough to be born your age and red-haired!)

—Sandra Bullock

“I think being a woman is like being Irish. Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the same.” (If only I could make it up to second place!)

—Iris Murdoch

“My parents were French and Irish and our family even has Spanish blood—and I do so love the United States and consider myself part American.” (Although I identify myself as half-English and half-Irish, the truth is that I am a mixture of English, Irish, and Scotch-Irish. But still I can boast that I am more Irish than St. Patrick himself, bless his British soul!”)

—Vivien Leigh, who played half-Irish
Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind

“Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.” (Which must mean that I waste all mine!)

—Tug McGraw

“Our Irish blunders are never blunders of the heart.” (But all of mine are, as reflected in my self-quote: “My Irish mouth keeps getting me into trouble that my English mind can’t get me out of!”)

—Maria Edgeworth

“The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots as a joke, but the Scots haven’t seen the joke yet.” (Yet I have already told Mari that I want an Irish piper to play at my Southern funeral and burial—in Arkansas!)

—Oliver Herford

“There’s something about the Irish that is remarkable.” (Yeah–everything!)

—Fiona Shaw

“To marry the Irish is to look for poverty.” (That’s even true for marriage with the half-Irish, like me—just ask Mari!)

—J. P. Donleavy

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.” (And I’m half-English and half-Irish, so I am really screwed up!)

—Winston Churchill (who once complained about the Aussies,
“But what can you expect from a nation of convicts and Irishmen!”)

“You think the Welsh are friendly, but the Irish are fabulous.” (The Irish are like what Hodding Carter said of Southerners, they will be polite until they are mad enough to kill you!)

—Bonnie Tyler

“My father was totally Irish, and so I went to Ireland once. I found it to be very much like New York, for it was a beautiful country, and both the women and men were good-looking.” (And so are all their American descendants—like me!)

—James Cagney (who played Irish-American showman
George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy,
one of my three all-time favorite movies
and the only one that is not Southern!)

From Terence Sheehy, Introduction, Ireland in Colour:

Ireland in Colour

“John Henry Cardinal Newman prophesied [that Ireland would one day become] the crossroads of the world and the twentieth-century gateway to Europe, a country whose people he also foretold would have a long night but [would] see an inevitable day.”

“Right Honourable Sir Boyle Roche invented the Irish ‘bull’ which said that . . . great respect was due those fearless explorers of the new world ‘who ventured forth where the hand of man had never set foot.’”

“They [the Irish] reckoned that when God made time he made plenty of it, and they knew that God was nearer than the door.”

“The whole world knows that St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland, into the Atlantic Ocean, and that veteran Irish Labour Leader, James Connolly, added that he thought they all became politicians in America.” (I agree!)

“At all costs, in your presence, the desire [of the Irish] is to please, and to pay compliments to your face, like the good natured man who felt obliged to say something nice to an old lady and remarked, ‘Well, Ma’am, whatever age you are, you don’t look it.’” (Must be where I got that trait—especially in regard to women!)

From Joan Larson Kelly, Irish Wit and Wisdom:

Irish Wit and Wisdom

“The Irish are very special people, this any Irishman will winningly and willingly admit! Endowed with irrepressible charm, humor, and a way with words, they have spread their matchless wit throughout the world to the delight of fellow Irishmen and the world at large. . . . Conversation is a game of wit Irishmen delight in playing.” (And since I am half-Irish, that makes me a half-wit!)

“While in other countries everything may be serious but not hopeless, in Ireland everything is hopeless but not serious.” (And I am seriously hopeless!)

“Get on your knees and thank God you’re still on your feet.” (I would if I were!)

“There is not a way into the woods for which there is not a way out of it.” (I hope this is true ’cause I ain’t been out of the woods yet for decades!)

“The truth from a liar is not to be believed.” (But I say that the truth is the truth even if it comes from the devil!)

“As you slide down the bannister of life may the splinters never face the wrong way!” (Ouch!)

“Do not resent growing old—many are denied the privilege!” (Still, getting old is no fun!)

“The gift of Blarney is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he will look forward to the trip.” (Or to convince a woman that she is beautiful and charming when she knows perfectly well that she’s neither!)

“Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.” (Been there, done that! See next quote.)

“It has been said that an Englishman thinks and speaks. A Scot thinks twice before he speaks, and an Irishman speaks before he thinks.” (Since I am half-Irish and half-English and blessed with a combination of Irish luck and English pluck, you would think I would be invincible. Unfortunately, in me those traits seem to be mutually exclusive!)

From Carol Kelly-Gangi, editor, The Essential Wisdom of the Irish:

Irish Wisdom

“There’s no point in being Irish if you don’t know the world is going to break your heart eventually.” (I must be more Irish than I thought ‘cause my heart has been broken for decades. I don’t know why the surgeon called what he did to me a “triple bypass.” As far as I can tell, nothing has ever bypassed my heart. Jesus is said to have a “sacred heart”; I just have a “scarred heart”!)

—Daniel Patrick Moynihan, upon hearing the news
of John F. Kennedy’s assassination

“Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.” (So that’s where mine came from—it’s a good thing I’m half-Irish and half-English and not half-Irish and half-Jewish ‘cause then I would be a total psychotic!)

—Brendan Brehan

“There is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” (And I‘m one of them!)

—Sigmund Freud

“I swim in a pool of my own neurosis. I carry love, grief deeply, like an Irishman.” (Me too!)

—Richard Harris

“We Irish are . . . a nation of brilliant failures, but we are the greatest talkers since the Greeks.” (Yep, that’s me all right! Like Scarlett O’Hara I am half-Irish—which makes me a talkative half-wit failure—but like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and so many other Irishmen, a half-way gifted writer!)

—Oscar Wilde (also attributed to Richard Harris)

“I feel like an exile at heart—the call of the North is always there.” (Me too, except with me it’s the call of the South!)

—Mary McAleese

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” (But what happens to that man if he is not allowed to return home—not even after thirty-five years in exile? His Irish melancholy becomes his dominant personality trait—though often expressed in the inherent Irish wit!)

—George Moore

“An Irish atheist is one who wishes to God he could believe in God.” (Or as I say, he is a poor soul who suffers from spiritual amnesia.)

—John Pentland Mahaffy

From Irish Blessings: With Legends, Poems, and Greetings:

Irish Blessings

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!”

“May there always be work
For your hands to do.
May your purse always hold
A coin or two.
May the sun always shine
On your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain
To follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend
Always be near you.
May God fill your heart
With gladness to cheer you.”

“May the grandest day of your past be the least day of your future.”

“For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad.
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad.”

—C. K. Chesterton

(Note: When I played Daniel O’Donnell’s two CD album titled “The Irish Album” with about forty traditional Irish songs on it, Mari said, “It’s beautiful . . . but all the songs are so sad.” It’s because so many of them are about exile! To view these song titles and to purchase this album, click here.)

“May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields;
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

“May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.”

“There’s music in the Irish names—
Kilkenny . . . Tipperary . . .
There’s beauty in the countryside,
From Cork to Londonderry,
And whoever makes his earthly home
Close to the Irish sod
Has found a bit of Heaven
And walks hand in hand with God.”

(Note: This is precisely the way I feel about Arkansas—the American Ireland–which may explain why I feel homesick for Ireland, a place I’ve never been and very likely will never see—this side of Heaven!)

“May God grant you many years to live
For sure He must be knowin’
That earth has angels all too few
And Heaven is overflowin’.”

(Note: And may God’s richest blessing and the luck of the Irish rub off on anyone who reads either of these two Irish posts or any part of them! So go with God, and to paraphrase our Jewish friends, “Next year St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle!”)

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 “As a Southerner, I am blessed by having an Irishman’s sense of humor and cursed by having an Irishman’s sense of melancholy—or is it just the opposite?” (Like Scarlett O’Hara, I am half-Irish, which is just enough Irish to be miserable—and then make jokes about it. The connections between the Irish nature and the Southern nature will be discussed in a later post.)
—Jimmy Peacock

In honor or of St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would share in this post some tidbits from My Oklahomian Exile Literature on that subject.

The first is a bit of poetic nonsense I once sent to an Anglican nun named Sister Ellie, who was my spiritual advisor at the time. A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Sr. Ellie shared my love of Ireland and all things Irish.

The poem accompanied a bottle of Baily’s Irish Cream, which, according to Wikipedia, is “an Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur, made by Gilbeys of Ireland.” (To visit the Bailey’s Irish Cream official Web site, click here.)

Daniel O’Donnell, mentioned in the poem, is an Irish singer who has become tremendously popular in America and indeed around the world. He has recorded numerous CDs and videos and has made several appearances at Branson, Missouri, which have often been shown on public television stations. (To see and hear Daniel O’Donnell singing the sentimental tune “Sing Me an Old Irish Song,” click here.)

A Taste of Home
A Foretaste of Heaven

Alas, chère Ellie, Daniel O’Donnell t’is not,
But the gift doesn’t matter as much as the tho’t.
If by chance you’re unable hereof to partake,
Just guard it, dear Sister, as an Irish keepsake. 

T’would please me no end to know t’is ever on hand
Recalling the “son” of a Dubliner man,
James Allen Emery, who left the Emerald Isle
To become the great-grandfather of an Arkie exile… 

“Himself”
St. Paddy’s Day 2003

PS A bargain I offer between you and me,
Pray me back home, and I’ll do it for thee.

 Remember: t’is Erin GO Braugh!

The second piece, also a poem, was a tribute to the wife of the pastor of a church to which we belonged at the time. She was blessed with a warm personality, beautiful blond hair, and a lovely singing voice which she used to great advantage in performing opera-type music at the church and on stage in several cities. I have changed her name to protect her privacy.

The poem was originally written in a Gaelic-style font and in green ink, which was changed for this post because it was hard to read. As noted, this poem is a paraphrase of the popular sentimental Irish ballad, “Mother Machree.” (To hear Maureen Hegarty sing this song with the lyrics shown on screen, click here.)

 Irish Tribute from the O’Peacocks
(To Be Sung to the Tune of “Mother Machree”)

There’s a spot in our hearts that no colleen may own,
There’s a depth in our souls never sounded or known.
There’s a place in our memory, our lives that you fill,
No other can take it, no one ever will.

Refrain:
Sure, and we love the dear blondness that shines in your hair,
And the voice that’s so lovely, so pure, and so fair.
We list’ the dear music that pours forth from thee,
Oh, God bless you and keep you, Mary Magee.

Every hour that has passed in the dear days gone by,
‘Twas made brighter by far by the light in your eye.
Like a candle aglow in a window at night,
Your sweet voice has cheered us and guided us right.

Refrain:
Sure, and we love the dear blondness that shines in your hair,
And the voice that’s so lovely, so pure, and so fair.
We list’ the dear music that pours forth from thee,
Oh, God bless you and keep you, Mary Magee.

— Jimmy Peacock
St. Patrick’s Day 2005

The third piece is a tongue-in-cheek essay I wrote on the occasion of a St. Patrick’s Day parade in which Mari and I found ourselves caught up while trying to negotiate the unfamiliar streets of downtown Little Rock. It may be a bit risqué for some readers, but every word of it is absolutely true. And sure, ‘tis no lie!

St. Patrick’s Day Exhibition

I believe that when writing a wish you expressed,
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed,
Well, if you believe me when asked to a hall,
Faith they don’t wear no top to their dresses at all,
l’ve seen them meself, and you could not in truth
Know if they were bound for a ball or a bath,
Don’t be startin’ them fashions now Mary McCree,
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
—“Mountains O’Mourne,” Irish folk song
(To watch a video of this song performed by Don McLean with beautiful views of the Mountains of Mourne, click here.)

This past weekend while on our way from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, to Forrest City, Arkansas, on family business, Mari and I decided to stop off in Little Rock at the Historic Arkansas Museum, which was featuring a photographic exhibition on Dermott, Arkansas, Mari’s birthplace.

Unfortunately, following the Internet directions resulted in our driving blocks out of our way along the riverfront and having to circle back down Markham Street where we were caught behind a dawdling float in a St. Patrick’s Day parade that finally stopped completely in front of the Old State House where green-clad revelers were gathering by the hundreds around the sparkling fountains.

Old State House

Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the fountain in front of it

Old State House Fountain

Exasperated, as soon as I could I swung right onto Scott Street where we both spied a couple of pedestrians obviously heading to the St. Pat’s activities. They were somewhat conspicuous because, although obviously in their fifties, and it being a rather chilly, windy day, they were both dressed in skimpy garments. Later as we circled the block looking for the museum parking lot, we drove up closer behind them and were both struck by the brevity of the peroxide blonde’s mini-shirt, which—how shall we say it?—did not begin to cover the issue.

Astounded, Mari exclaimed aloud, “Why, she’s not wearing any panties!” to which I replied, “Yeah, that really is pretty cheeky.” Needless to say, the blonde’s exhibition was more attention grabbing than the museum’s exhibition, though we found the latter more to our taste.

Remembering that the preachers of our youth used to refer to our human incapacity to understand the workings of God as seeing only “the backside of the tapestry,” that evening we eagerly watched the Arkansas news on TV to see if “Tapestry” had perhaps “mooned” the St. Patrick’s Day celebrants.

Sad to say, even though I bought a copy of the Sunday Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the next morning, there was no mention in either medium of “the moon rise over Claddagh.” Too bad. Now we’ll never know the real identity of “Tapestry” who’s been “startin’ them fashions” for all to see, where the fountains of Markham sweep down to the glee.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

–Jimmy “Himself” Peacock
March 2008

Note: The term “moon rise over Claddagh” was taken from a popular Irish tune “Galway Bay,” one of my favorite Irish songs. To hear it sung by Dennis Day, click here, then scroll down to the first list of songs and click on Number 7, “Galway Bay.” Be sure to listen for the final note–it’s the “high point” of the entire post! Note that the Irish term “gassoons” comes from the French garcons, meaning “boys,” and “praties” is the Irish word for “potatoes.”

Claddagh is a fishing village near the city of Galway. The name is also known because of the famous Claddagh ring. To learn more about it, click here (see photo below taken from this site):

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 “Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
—[Prayer] For Those Who Influence Public Opinion,
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer 

In earlier posts I have written about my forced exile from my beloved Arkansas homeland and cited many of the self-quotes on the subject of writing and writers that I composed over the three decades of that exile.

Now in this post I would like to offer many of the quotes on these subjects that I have collected from others in the course of my reading over these long years.

I think you will see the reason I chose to copy and preserve them and include them in my huge collection on these subjects. My parenthetical comments will also give evidence of my reactions to these quotes as they related to my own experience and expressions of it.

Others’ Quotes on Writing and Writers
(with my comments in parentheses, emphasis in italics):

“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only one worth living.”

—Gustave Flaubert

“Writing is a gift we give ourselves.”

—Marcia Conston, quoted in
The Upper Room daily devotional

“Writing is both mask and unveiling.”

—E. B. White

“Writing is a struggle against silence.”

–Carlos Fuentes

“Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music.”

 —Truman Capote

“Writing is its own reward.” (But in my case at least that reward is NOT financial!)

—Henry Miller

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy, an amusement; then it becomes a mistress; and then a master, and then a tyrant.”

—Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“To be a good writer demands more brains and judgment than most men possess.”

—Josh Billings

“The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” (That’s what I’m trying to do with my writings—to preserve them and pass them on to my progeny.)

—Chuck Palahnuik

“(Writing has] also given me a way to understand myself and those I love. When you have to parse out, in an intelligent and meaningful way, what it means to be a mother, a citizen, a wife, a person of faith, a friend, you have to spend a lot of time figuring out what you really think as opposed to glib first impressions. And that requires you to go deeply into yourself. I sometimes say that instead of the therapist’s couch I’ve had the [computer] keyboard, and I’m only partly kidding.” (I know the feeling and share the experience!)

—Anna Quindlen

Writers are exorcists of their own demons.” (This is my favorite quote—it’s what I am doing when I write, and when I share it on my blog.)

—Mario Vargas Llosa

“I don’t know a more effective way to work through something than by writing about it.” (Neither do I.)

—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love,
quoted in “She is ‘Committed,’”
Tulsa World, February 13, 2010

“What are we but our stories?”

—James Patterson, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer 

We have one chance to write the story of our lives. Let’s make it the most amazing story that we could ever tell.”

—Author Karen Kingsbury, quoted by Bill Sherman in
“Kingsbury builds on foundation of faith,”
Tulsa World, February 27, 2010

“How do we tell [our] story? Our own way.”

—Eudora Welty, Eudora Welty on Short Stories,
quoted by Scott Naugle in
“Mississippi Reads: 2009: Eudora Welty,”
 The Southern Register, Winter 2009

“No man can walk out on his own story.”

—Clint Eastwood-like character in kids’ movie Rango 

“This is the problem with instant history, that events have a way of outstripping us, that it’s hard to tell a story before it ends.”

—David L. Ulin in a review of a book
about Sarah Palin, Tulsa World, 09-18-11

“I learned in Southern Studies [at the University of Mississippi] that one of the most important things to remember is that everyone has a story. People have different ways of telling their stories and (more often than not) very different memories of the same stories. This is important and not to be overlooked. In ministry I have learned that people’s stories are most precious to them. Sharing these stories creates community (certainly a Southern Studies value) and a deeper sense of how our own narratives connect us all to something bigger than ourselves.” . . . . it is necessary to deal with tragedies and imperfections before it is possible to think about redemption. “This foundation was imperative to take with me into Divinity school.”

—Sarah Condon, Episcopal ministerial student at Yale Divinity School, quoted in “Southern Studies Alumni Tackle the Professions,”
The Southern Register, Fall 2011

“It is only when a man is through with history that he thinks of writing his biography.” (I was never a part of history, not even as a footnote!)

—Leon Samson

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“How can you write if you can’t cry?” (So it seems that as a writer it’s all right for me to be a “hopeless romantic.”)

—Ring Lardner

“This is not real life; it’s a movie. Real life needs a better writer.” (So true! That’s why I write fact, not fiction!)

—Quote from a movie now forgotten

“I like to write when I feel spiteful; it’s like having a good sneeze.”

—D. H. Lawrence

“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” (Probably my besetting sin as a writer!)

—Josh Billings

“The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.” (Someone has said that it’s not hard to write. You just sit down at a desk and kill your babies!)

—Isaac Bashevis Singer

“What’s this business of being a writer? It’s just putting one word after another.” (Which is true, but it ain’t easy!)

—Irving Thalberg

“Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.” (And because they wish it were or had been.)

—Thomas Berger

“Writers aren’t exactly people . . . they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.” (Or one person trying to be a whole lot of people.)

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Men like women who write. Even though they don’t say so. A writer is a foreign country.” (And that country is called HOME!)

—Marguerite Duras, quoted in Forbes magazine,
October 25, 2010

“The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” (Sadly true!)

—Robert Benchly

“The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.” (Right!)

—S. J. Perelman

“The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent one, or both. Usually both.”

—Susan Sontag

 “Writers are congenitally unable to tell the truth, which is why we call what they write fiction.” (Which is why I prefer to read and write nonfiction.)

—William Faulkner

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”

—Walter “Red” Smith

“Blot out, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline;
Be mindful, when invention fails,
To scratch your head, and bite your nails.”

—Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) on writing and editing

“Writers kid themselves—about themselves and other people. Take the talk about writing methods. Writing is just work—there’s no secret. If you dictate, or use a pen, or type, or type with your toes—it is just work.” (Don’t I know it!)

—Sinclair Lewis, quoted by Charles Allbright in his
Arkansas Traveler column, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“But with all [the negatives about the current state of the economy and journalism], I am still optimistic that there still is a place for people who know how to write, who know how to tell a story, (and) who know how to talk.” (I hope so ’cause that’s all I know how to do!)

Byron Pitts, quoted by Russell Lacour in
“Out on nothing: Q&A with journalist Byron Pitts,”
Tulsa World, November 18, 2009

“It’s easy to forget that every ounce of truly memorable writing is distilled from gallons of hard-earned experience.” (True!)

—Evan T. Pritchard, No Word for Time
(book edited by Jimmy Peacock)

“In the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.” (As I say, “It is all grist for the mill—and a writer is at the grindstone twenty-four/seven! Everything that happens in my life eventually ends up in print.”)

—Anonymous

“I go to the store and come back with milk and bread. Jimmy goes to the store and comes back with an adventure (i.e., a story)!” (As I say, “Be careful what you say or do to a writer. You may be his next tribute—or his next target!”)

—Marion Peacock

“Whatever shall we do in that remote spot? Well, we will write our Memoirs.” (Which is what I am doing right now where I am with what time I have left!)

—Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821),
headed to exile on board the HMS Bellerophon

“If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” (That’s what I am doing in these “memoirs.”)

—Toni Morrison

 “We write so as to be seen, so as to be part of the human vision of the world.” (Also to be heard and understood and appreciated–and loved.)

—(Mexican novelist) Elena Poniatowska

“A true poet does not bother to be poetic. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.” (I don’t have to write fiction to embellish my stories—my real life is unbelievable enough already!)

—Jean Cocteau

“As a writer, you are a very powerful person. . . . [Write in your own style and develop your own voice.] Nobody on the Earth has lived the life you have. There’s something different about you that makes you interesting.”

—Novelist Christopher Paul Curtis,
quoted by David Harper in
“Write every day, award winner tells youngsters,”
Tulsa World, August 20, 2009

“Seems every time I make my mark somebody paints the wall.” (As I say, “With all the mess I have lived through in my life—most of which I caused myself—I am eminently qualified to write either country music or Southern literature.”)

—Lyrics to country song by Tracy Lawrence,
“Somebody Paints the Wall”

“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails . . . . Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (Amen!)

—Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 NIV

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