Gas From a Burner 
by James Joyce 
Written in 1912 

Ladies and gents, you are here assembled 
To hear why earth and heaven trembled 
Because of the black and sinister arts 
Of an Irish writer in foreign parts. 
He sent me a book ten years ago: 
I read it a hundred times or so, 
Backwards and forwards, down and up, 
Through both the ends of a telescope. 
I printed it all to the very last word 
But by the mercy of the Lord 
The darkness of my mind was rent 
And I saw the writer's foul intent. 
But I owe a duty to Ireland: 
I held her honour in my hand, 
This lovely land that always sent 
Her writers and artists to banishment 
And in a spirit of Irish fun 
Betrayed her own leaders, one by one. 
'Twas Irish humour, wet and dry, 
Flung quicklime into Parnell's eye; 
'Tis Irish brans that save from doom 
The leaky barge of the Bishop of Rome 
For everyone knows the Pope can't belch 
Without the consent of Billy Walsh. 
O Ireland my first and only love 
Where Christ and Caesar are hand and glove! 
O lovely land where the shamrock grows! 
(Allow me, ladies to blow my nose) 
To show you for strictures I don't care a button 
I printed the poems of Mountainy Mutton 
And a play he wrote (you've read it, I'm sure) 
Where they talk of 'bastard', 'bugger' and 'whore', 
And a play on the Word and Holy Paul 
And some woman's legs that I can't recall, 
Written by Moore, a genuine gent 
That lives on his property's ten per cent; 
I printed mystical books in dozens: 
I printed the table-book of Cousins 
Though (asking your pardon) as for the verse 
'Twould give you a heartburn on your arse: 
I printed folklore from North and South 
By Gregory of the Golden Mouth: 
I printed poets, sad, silly and solemn: 
I printed Patrick What-do-you-Colm: 
I printed the great John Milicent Synge 
Who soars above on an angel's wing 
In the payboy shift that he pinched as swag 
From Maunsel's manager's travelling-bag. 

But I draw the line at that bloody fellow 
That was over here dressed in Austrian yellow, 
Spouting Italian by the hour 
To O'Leary Curtis and John Wyse Power 
And writing of Dublin, dirty and dear, 
In a manner no blackamoor printer could bear. 
Shite and onions! Do you think I'll print 
The name of the Wellington Monument, 
Sydney Parade and Sandymount tram, 
Downe's cakeshop and Wiliam's jam? 
I'm damned if I do - I'm damned to blazes! 
Talk about Irish Names of Places! 
It's a wonder to me, upon my soul, 
He forgot to mention Curly's Hole. 
No, ladies, my press shall have no share in 
So gross a libel on Stepmother Erin. 
I pity the poor - that's why I took 
A red-headed Scotchman to keep my book. 
Poor sister Scotland! Her doom is fell; 
She cannot find any more Stuarts to sell. 
My conscience is fine as Chinese silk: 
My heart is soft as buttermilk. 
Colm can tell you I made a rebate 
Of one hundred pounds on the estimate 
I gave him for his Irish Review. 
I love my country - by herrings I do! 
I wish you could see what tears I weep 
When I think of the emigrant train and ship. 
That's why I publish far and wide 
My quite illegible railway guide, 
In the porch of my printing institute 
The poor and deserving prostitute 
Plays every night at catch-as-catch-can 
With her tight-breeched British artilleryman 
And the foreigner learns the gift of the gab 
From the drunken draggletail Dublin drab. 

Who was it said: Resist not evil? 
I'll burn that book, so help me devil. 
I'll sing a psalm as I watch it burn 
And the ashes I'll keep in a one-handled urn. 
I'll penance do with farts and groans 
Kneeling upon my marrowbones. 
This very next lent I will unbare 
My penitent buttocks to the air 
And sobbing beside my printing press 
My awful sin I will confess. 
My Irish foreman from Bannockburn 
Shall dip his right hand in the urn 
And sign crisscross with reverent thumb 
Memento homo upon my bum.