Sunday, April 02, 2006

o'brien: keats and chapman on mineral wealth

It is not generally known that . . .

O excuse me.

Keats and Chapman (in the old days) spent several months in the county Wicklow prospecting for ochre deposits. That was before the days of (your) modern devices for geological divination. With Keats and Chapman it was literally a question of smelling the stuff out. The pair of them sniffed their way into Glenmalure and out of it again, and then snuffed back to Woodenbridge. In a field of turnips near Avoca Keats lay for hours face down in the muck delightedly permeating his nostrils with the perfume of hidden wealth. No less lucky was Chapman. He had nosed away in the direction of Newtownmountkennedy and came racing back shouting that he too had found a mine. He implored Keats to come and confirm his nasal diagnosis. Keats agreed. He accompanied Chapman to the site and lay down in the dirt to do his sniffing. Then he rose.

'Great mines stink alike,' he said.

Mineral Wealth
by Flann O'Brien (Myles na Gopaleen)
from The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman and The Brother
(Paladin Grafton Books, 1990)

(for AlainB)

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