James is an Irish poet, widely considered part leprechaun. Every few years he comes to stay with his cousins for a couple weeks, across the street from my house. James is on the left in this photo, which I took at the Fourth of July parade.
James has two main modes of conversation: storytelling and poetry recitation. It is a pure delight to chat with him. As we waited for the parade, he narrated pages of Irish history, including dates, and recited from W.B. Yeats and our own Nathaniel Hawthorne, among others.
Earlier, he was sitting on his cousins’ front porch and saw a young woman he knows coming across the street. He was moved by the way she walks, as he told me, and with a kind of poetic spontaneous combustion, intoned on the spot:
Meran, fairest maid art thou,
Lovely is thy stride.
My heart goes out to thee
As ebbs the great sea tide.
But, ah, my kind Meran, I’ll not forget thee.
Nor the kind words you said unto me.
James has self-published a couple books of lore in his unique style. He and his brother, both lifelong bachelors, sell peat. On certain Sundays, James bikes 18 miles to the ruins of an old monastery, where he narrates the history for visitors. Then he bikes 18 miles home. In any kind of weather. James is 73.