Percy French

I’ve been reading some of the works of Percy French lately. He was an Irish poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. Probably his most famous poem is “Abdul Abulbul Amir“, which is a satire on the Russo-Turkish war.
He also wrote “The Mountains of Mourne“. It’s in the style of an Irishman writing to his girlfriend at home about the city of London. This is the first verse: 
“Oh, Mary, this London’s a wonderful sight,
With people all working by day and by night.
Sure they don’t sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat,
But there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
At least when I asked them that’s what I was told,
So I just took a hand at this digging for gold,
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.”
I like that. It has a subtlety to it that’s often lacking in satire.
His other famous poem is “Are Ye Right There, Michael?” It seems to require a bit more familiarity with the lay of the land in Ireland than I have to really “get” it, but the story of the court case that resulted from it, which you can read in the Wikipedia article, is quite funny.

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