This sequence of lyrics in Time in Armagh explores John Montague’s schooldays in Armagh, Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital, during World War II.
I do not think I could exaggerate
the harshness of our schooling.
In these poems ancient and personal histories are intertwined inside a collage of contemporary events. But, as always, Montague celebrates how, even in an atmosphere of organised repression, the instinct for love can prevail.
‘A good year for poetry. Montague’s [Time in Armagh] is a very laid back genial performance covering in subject matter his schooldays in St Patrick’s College Armagh from 1941 to 1946 . . . The essence of the book is schoolboy reality, pain, loneliness, humiliation . . . he is a real poet . . . you will be enriched by experiencing some of the horrors of a good Catholic education through the sensibility of a brave and intelligent survivor, with a sense of humour:
Still to this late day, I rage blind
whenever I hear that hectoring tone,
trying to put another human being down.
The guilt givers who know what is right,
they can shove their rules. A system
without love is a crock of shite.’
— James Simmons, The Linen Hall Review