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RAGLAN ROAD
Patrick Kavanagh

On Raglan Road on an autumn day I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I passed along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay -
Oh I loved too much and by such by such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that's known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint without stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see hger walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had loved not as I should a creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of day.
 

Footnote:  Robin Watson reminded me of this haunting Irish song when he sang it at the traditional Gaberlunzie Yule concert in the Milnathort Town hall at the close of 2006. Sometimes attributed as traditional, it was in fact composed by the great Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) for Luke Kelly of The Dubliners. Both men admired each other’s talents but didn’t like one another! Fortunately Luke Kelly not only sang and recorded the song but inspired many other singers to follow his example. He is probably best remembered for ‘Raglan Road’ and his long poem ‘The Great Hunger’ which was adapted for the stage in 1983 and premiered in the Abbey theatre, Dublin. In 200 the Irish Times surveyed ‘the nation’s favourite poems’ and his fellow-countrymen voted ten of Patrick Kavanagh’s poems into the top fifty .He married late in life to Katherine Barry Malone in April 1967 and sadly died later that year on St Andrew’s Day.

 

 


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