Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Raglan Road: Let Grief Be A Fallen Leaf

It doesn't get any better than this. That's my favourite Irish ballad, "On Raglan Road", from a 1979 RTÉ program uniting two immortals of Irish culture - Luke Kelly & Patrick Kavanagh.

Luke sings Paddy's poem with genuine, heart stirring conviction - dangerous, revolutionary stuff - his ginger-hair jangling to the pluck of his banjo.

The original colour version can be seen on RTÉ, along with some of the song's history.

As Luke tells it:
"It was in the Bailey (pub) and he was singing in his own peculiar manner and so was I in my own peculiar manner, and he said 'I've got a song for you!' And he said 'You should sing Ragland Road.' And I'm very proud of the fact that got the imprimatur as it were..."

On Raglan Road

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 without 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 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.

-Patrick Kavanagh

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