Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

Wednesday Poetry Corner With Niamh Clune

Patrick Kavanagh by Patrick Swift

Patrick Kavanagh by Patrick Swift

From the days of my Dublin, when singing in smokey, Guiness coloured, sacrilegious, music-filled, rebel pubs; when discourse was a delicious, of course, and intellectuals doffed berets, speech-made: intoning, droning, inspiring, pronouncing, disclaiming, inflaming, and the bodhran beat out the rhythm of the night with its fire and ire, and the harp plucked the strings of many booze-soaked hearts, and the fiddle spun fairy yarns to make the red-heads whoop and battle-cry, and the flute diddley-eyed, and the singers sang of famine and the emigre to the shores of A-mer-i-kay, and of weeping mothers and long-since hanged sons, and the poets sent letters of love across the cloudy room to my green eyes and dark tresses that had, for a moment, captured their souls.

A great balladeer, my friend Luke Kelly, encapsulated that Dublin. He sings Raglan Road, penned by the wonderful poet, Patrick Kavanagh ~ 

On Raglan Road of 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 and I passed
Along the enchanted way
And 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 a 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 signs
Known to the artists who have known
The true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint I did not stint
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 her 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’ll lose his wings at the dawn of day

Patrick Kavanagh.


About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

13 comments on “Wednesday Poetry Corner With Niamh Clune

  1. davidprosser
    March 5, 2014

    Tremendous words by Mr Kavanagh, beautifully sung by Mr Kelly.. I love the traditional Irish ballads sung in just the places you describe though of course they’re no longer smoky now.
    Lovely to have a post from you again.
    xxx Hugs Unlimited xxx


  2. Patricia Tilton
    March 5, 2014

    I love Patrick’s Irish ballad. The poem is beautiful and powerful!


    • ontheplumtree
      March 5, 2014

      Glad you love it, Patricia. And isn’t Luke Kelly’s voice amazing?


  3. Naomi Baltuck
    March 5, 2014

    Beautiful, and so moving.


    • ontheplumtree
      March 5, 2014

      Naomi…these were the Dublin days of my childhood ~ filled with this mucic and poetry. Thank you for your comment.


  4. connellykevin
    March 5, 2014

    Luke Kelly always gave Raglan Road it’s finest treatment. The air is an old Irish air called Fáinne geal an Lae/The bright ring of the day. I had it played by fiddles bodhran, harp and uileann pipes and banjo at my late wife’s funeral, it was a very emotional moment for all present. She was a great admirer of the works of Kavanagh. When I was a youngster I used to walk miles to country marquees where the Dubliners would be playing and then sneak in under the canvas and walk home again in the dawn.
    Your Dublin you describe beautifully, it brought to mind some other lines from Kavanagh
    “if ever you go to Dublin town
    in a hundred years or so
    enquire for me in Baggott Street
    and what I was like to know,
    oh he was the quare one
    I tell you
    oh he was the quare one
    fol-de roo


    • ontheplumtree
      March 5, 2014

      Ah! Kevin…a Dublin long gone…And Brendan Behan’s days of the quare one were also something to behold…not all of them easy, but exciting poetry-filled days when men were not afraid of being poets.


  5. thiskidreviewsbooks
    March 5, 2014

    What a poem! It is written very well.


    • ontheplumtree
      March 6, 2014

      Yes! Erik, Patrick Kavanagh is one of the great Irish poets. Thank you for stopping by!


  6. Daniel Vimont
    March 5, 2014

    I know nothing of Dublin (neither past nor present), but your words and Luke Kelly’s bringing-to-life of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem make me feel like I know it intimately (and that’s some pretty intense magick)!!


  7. nativemericangirl
    March 6, 2014

    A truly wonderful piece. 😀 Gracias for sharing. Best of Blessings y Success!!!


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