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2nd of March, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 04:50

Raglan Road — 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 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 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 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 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.

Our primary school’s headmaster, PJ Arthur, initially of Ennis, Co. Clare, used to teach this as one of the first tunes on the tin whistle. It’s a fine song, but its strength isn’t in the tune, which is pretty pedestrian, whereas the words are pretty sublime, as befits something by Patrick Kavanagh. No, he never taught us the words :-/ .

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