” The stars, Joxer, the stars ! “

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” We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. ” ( Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan.)

I first saw this quote printed on the wall behind the bar of a pub in Blessington, Co. Wicklow. It was the first time I’d seen or even heard it. I was at a gig, relaxing and enjoying the music. Nothing on my mind, no cares or worries. ( That was an enjoyable ten minutes ! ) But the quote resonated with me . I think I could see the humour in it mixed with a certain wisdom and inspiration. I also loved the strong image it implanted in my mind .  I wondered, still do, was I one of the  ” some ” ?  Why is it that only some look at the stars and others don’t ?

And of course Oscar Wilde, one of the funniest men ever produced by this country. What was there not to love !

Oscar Wilde statue, Dublin

It probably, as well, brought another  quote to mind,  from O’Casey’s ” Juno and the Paycock ” ( 1924 ) ,  which I had studied at some stage in my schooldays. Two of the characters,  Boyle and Joxer, living in poverty in one of Dublin’s tenements, are having a conversation, part of which goes :

Boyle : ” An’, as it blowed an’ blowed, I often looked up at at the sky an’ assed meself the question – what is the stars, what is the stars ? ”

Joxer : ” Ah, that’s the question, that’s the question – what is the stars ? ”

Over the years I was know to throw into conversation my own, as it turns out, incorrect, version of the above :

” The stars Joxer, what are the stars ? ”

Either way, looking at the stars raises us up and out of the ” gutter ”  and the ” tenement ” and throws us a lifeline.

And if we have to stay in the gutter, we can at least continue to look to the sky.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Quote Me.”


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