Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday's Poetry: "Old Woman of the Roads"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

T.S. Eliot told us that April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead ground and all of that.  And perhaps he was right, but I find pleasure in seeing the earth force its beauty up through the hardness of a long, cold winter.

April may be the cruelest month, but surely January is the loneliest.   The holidays have past and and taken with them the family, and friends, and mirthful activities of the season, leaving so very many more weeks of depressing winter with little to look forward to short of spring - which remains weeks away.

I was wrapped up in my January blues when I came across the following poem, "Old Woman of the Roads," by Irish poet and novelist Padraic Colum.    The verse touched me deeply and I knew at once that the poet had found me - just as I had found him.  His words were as comforting as a flickering fire in a tight little house.

Old Woman of the Roads
by Padraic Colum

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!
To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!
I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!
Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house - a house of my own
Out of the wind's and the rain's way. 

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

Colum's book Wild Earth, containing this poem in 1907. That was the same year in which J.M. Synge's play the Playboy of the Western World triggered riots by Irish nationalists seizing on the opportunity to politicize the stage.

Augustine Birrell was the Chief Secretary for Ireland and political turmoil ensued with introduction of the Irish Council Bill, a failed attempt at administrative home rule for Ireland. Some nationalist favored the bill, others wanted full home rule.

Birrell sought to end the Irish Crimes Act (agrarian crime), only to faced with an outbreak of cattle driving. Apparently the cows were being driven onto fields with plenty of grass, and that was a crime. Of course English aristocrats owned those fields. they were the 1% of their day.

The Irish Crown Jewels were stolen from Dublin Castle that year. What else could go wrong!

So we can understand that the economic climate was right for an old woman to want nothing more than a place to call home.

For reasons likewise rooted in greed and the pitting class against class, recent global economic events have left more persons with the old woman's dream.

And you recall that charge of class warfare hurled during the last election? Look up the October 14th 1940 edition of the Palm Beach Post. They said, after Wilke made the charge and they looked at the history of the accusation, that "If Jefferson was 'setting class against class' it turned out the wholesome thing to do,"