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Rhyme and Reason

Paul Verlaine

1844-1896

OUR President's wife Sabina visits a friend in prison. This causes cat fights all-round. What sort of people are we at all? Most of the founders of the new Irish State were in prison at one time or another. The first Free State president, WT Cosgrave had been in Mountjoy condemned to death after the Rising. Was it wrong for his wife Louisa to visit him? Margaretta D'Arcy is in the slammer because of her conscience. Why should a friend not go in to see her?

Paul Verlaine, the greatest French poet of the 19th century, was seldom out of prison. Like a good poet he made the best of both worlds and wrote a poem about being inside, which is one of the best known in the world today.

I thought I might send a copy of this piece to Margaretta to remind her what good company she is in, behind those threatening bars.

Ulick O'Connor was Irish pole vault champion and record holder


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