Curses: An Irish Poetic Tradition

For a brief discussion of the tradition, see Hugh Kenner, A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers  (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1983), 80-81. Kenner remarks,

Now if a curse is efficacious, like a gunshot, it is also aspective, like a gargoyle. On Paris churches sinners turned to stone must discharge waste water from church roofs through their open mouths for ever, and likewise as long as there are people to read or hear a fine elaborate curse it holds the victim contorted in its torments.
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.
-- As he does, he still does.

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