In the poem "My Wicked Uncle" by Derek Mahon, does anyone understand what it's saying? I have to do a critical essay on it.I was thinking that he is con-man, however I don't understand...

In the poem "My Wicked Uncle" by Derek Mahon, does anyone understand what it's saying? I have to do a critical essay on it.

I was thinking that he is con-man, however I don't understand the dialogue part when the author talked about drinking. The last stanza is also a blur. I don't know what the minister means along with the rest of the lines. Please, can anyone help me?

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a poem about a young man's first funeral.  He is at the funeral of his uncle.  The uncle was guilty of fraud against the union of ship-workers.  The narrator remembers once his uncle was arrested for trying to get the union to pay the men for an extra days wages because they crossed the international dateline.  This means they changed days without the normal 24 hours.  The minister is a typical minister and preaching the funeral, "from dust to dust".  While he is doing this the narrator is recalling things about his "wicked" uncle.  The narrator also notices that his uncle's hair is parted wrong, they have shaved off the mustache, and his horn-rimmed glasses are missing.  These are the things that he remembered him having.  He also says his uncle was like a business man and tried to act like a politician, but if a bartender asked what his uncle would like with his whiskey, he would reply," another whiskey."  This simply  infers that no matter how much the uncle tried to act like aristocrat, he was simply a union paid ship-worker who liked to stretch the truth occasionally.  The reference to "above the sea" is talking about the cemetery which appears to be above sea-level, and from where the uncle is being buried, they can see the Belfast Lough.  This is a reference to the gateway for Belfast to the Irish Sea.