LOVE: Michael O’Sullivan

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LOVE: A Reading
jointly organised by
Cha and Bleak House Books
Date: Friday 17 September 2021
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Bleak House Books
Moderator: Tammy Lai-Ming Ho

Michael O’Sullivan read an excerpt from Bleak House by Charles Dickens and surprised and delighted the audience by singing the Cork song “I Know My Love”, which is about the jealousy and insecurity of a woman involved with an “errant rover”, who she knows will ”wander the wild world over” and will surely marry an American girl.

You can listen to (and watch!)
Michael HERE (start from 15:40).

I know my love by his way of walking
And I know my love by his way of talking
And I know my love dressed in a suit of blue
And if my love leaves me what will I do…

And still she cried, “I love him the best
And a troubled mind sure can know no rest”
And still she cried, “Bonny boys are few
And if my love leaves me what will I do”

There is a dance house in Maradyke
And there my true love goes every night
He takes a strange girl upon his knee
Well now don’t you think that that vexes me?

And still she cried, “I love him the best
And a troubled mind sure can know no rest”
And still she cried, “Bonny boys are few
And if my love leaves me what will I do”

If my love knew I can wash and wring
If my love knew I can sew and spin
I’d make a coat of the finest kind
But the want of money sure leaves me behind

And still she cried, “I love him the best
And a troubled mind sure can know no rest”
And still she cried, “Bonny boys are few
And if my love leaves me what will I do”

I know my love is an arrant rover
I know he’ll wander the wild world over
In dear old Ireland he’ll no longer tarry
An American girl he’s sure to marry

And still she cried, “I love him the best
And a troubled mind sure can know no rest”
And still she cried, “Bonny boys are few
And if my love leaves me what will I do”

And still she cried, “I love him the best
And a troubled mind sure can know no rest”
And still she cried, “Bonny boys are few
And if my love leaves me what will I do”

What will I do…

by Charles Dickens

from Chapter 54

Heaven knows what he sees. The green, green woods of Chesney Wold, the noble house, the pictures of his forefathers, strangers defacing them, officers of police coarsely handling his most precious heir-looms, thousands of fingers pointing at him, thousands of faces sneering at him. But if such shadows flit before him to his bewilderment, there is one other shadow which he can name with something like distinctness even yet, and to which alone he addresses his tearing of his white, hair and his extended arms.

It is she, in association with whom, saving that she has been for years a main fibre of the root of his dignity and pride, he has never had a selfish thought. It is she whom he has loved, admired, honoured, and set up for the world to respect. It is she, who, at the core of all the constrained formalities and conventionalities of his life, has been a stock of living tenderness and love, susceptible as nothing else is of being struck with the agony he feels. He sees her, almost to the exclusion of himself; and cannot bear to look upon her cast down from the high place she has graced so well.

And, even to the point of his sinking on the ground, oblivious of his suffering, he can yet pronounce her name with something like distinctness in the midst of those intrusive sounds, and in a tone of mourning and compassion rather than reproach.

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Originally from Ireland, Michael O’Sullivan is a Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also an editor of Hong Kong Studies, the first peer-reviewed academic journal devoted entirely to Hong Kong. Michael has published a number of scholarly books, including Cloneliness: On the Reproduction of Loneliness (2019). His poems have been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Desde Hong Kong: Poets in Conversation with Octavio Paz, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, Quixotica: Poems East of La Mancha, and Asian Signature. His personal essay, “Reflections from a Gweilo on Being Out of the Loop”, can be found in Hong Kong 20/20: Reflections on a Borrowed Place (Blacksmith Books, 2017). His first novel is Lockdown Lovers (Penguin SEA, 2021). [Return to Table of Contents.]

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