Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Pleasant Joys of Brotherhood

The Pleasant Joys of Brotherhood

by James Simmons

I love the small hours of the night
When I sit up alone.
I love my family, wife and friends.
I love them when they're gone.
A glass of Power's, a well-slacked fire,
I wind the gramophone.
The pleasant joys of brotherhood
I savour on my own.

An instrument to play upon,
Books, records on the shelf,
And albums crammed with photographs:
I céilí by myself.

I drink to passion, drink to peace,
The silent telephone.
The pleasant joys of brotherhood
I savour on my own.

This is a poem I came across in The Oxford Book of Comic Verse, which I received as a Christmas gift in my late teens. I've never been able to find it transcribed on the internet (and I hope the estate of James Simmons won't come after me for remedying this).

I never knew anything about James Simmons until I looked him up on the internet just now. He was a Derry poet and musician who died in 2001. This lyric is sung to the air of "My Lagan Love" (which I don't know) and you can find recordings of it on the internet.

This poem appeals to me as an introvert! I love people, but I sometimes prefer to love them in their absence.

There is a footnote in The Oxford Book of Comic Verse explaining céilí as "a friendly visit, a social evening".  I would have thought Irish music was essential, but I may be wrong.


  1. The Corrs, Sínead O'Connor and Niamh Parsons are the three post-millenium artists that I can think of for My Lagan Love, I find it a bit hard to fit myself, but I also think that they are great words

    1. It's funny I never should have heard of the song. I do like the poem as a poem, regardless of any tune it might be put to.

      I've actually never even heard of Niamh Parsons. I only wish I'd never heard of Sinéad O'Connor.

  2. The book I'm reading at the moment, an English translation of a story written in Gaelic, is actually only the second time I've heard of the crickets singing stone, mentioned in Lagan Love. Still not entirely sure what it is.
    Parsons is probably quite underrated comparatively. I like the Corrs upbeat version. David Downes and David Agnew recorded an instrumental version in '99, which I've got somewhere