Monday, 9 September 2013

An Old Woman of the Roads by Padraic Colum

This is a poem that we learned at school about which so little can be said that it must be perfect. As a child I had an image of a long bog road and a shawled figure making her way, slowly. Padraic Colum (1881 -1972) had the gift of being able to create poetry that seems to have always been there, that enters directly into the folk tradition. He put the first three verses to She Moved through the Fair. Andreas Scholl sings it :

An Old Woman of the Roads

Oh, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped-up sods upon 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.

You can listen to Padraic Colum reciting this poem via Spotify:
An Old Woman of the Roads

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