“On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked 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 –
O I loved too much and by such and 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. I did not 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 her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed 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.”
The Dubliners’ Luke Kelly sings “Raglan Road” after describing Patrick Kavanagh’s gift of the poem for the now well known Irish song…
“One bedroom. Hallway a bare river-land.
Maudlin complaints are noisy stones in this leafless valley.
The tongue scarcely registers flavour when mossed
by indoor living. In this glass-covered stasis I rest…”
“My husband’s mother wanted to take the family portrait
at Carnton Plantation. I was the only person she called to ask
if it was okay. She said we could redeem the land with our picture—
my brown skin acrostic to the row of their white. She said can’t we
just let the past be the past. I was silent, my cell phone glowing
warm against my cheek. I was driving, red light—then go. She said it’s practically in my backyard and that her boys played on buckled
fields of green graves growing up—there are so many fun places to shoot! Oh and that big magnolia is in bloom—fragrant milky petals and waxy
greens by the red brick house, and the large front porch with rocking chairs
tipping back and forth above the purpled stains of Confederate blood. I
said it was fine as long as we weren’t by the slave cabins, and she laughed
and I laughed, which is to say—I wasn’t joking at all…”