Frederick Robert Higgins
Padraic O'Conaire Gaelic Storyteller - Poem by Frederick Robert Higgins
They've paid the last respects in sad tobacco
And silent is this wakehouse in its haze;
They've paid the last respects; and now their whiskey
Flings laughing words on mouths of prayer and praise;
And so young couples huddle by the gables.
O let them grope home through the hedgy night -
Alone I'll mourn my old friend, while the cold dawn
Thins out the holy candlelight.
Respects are paid to one loved by the people;
Ah, was he not - among our mighty poor -
The sudden wealth cast on those pools of darkness,
Those bearing, just, a star's faint signature;
And so he was to me, close friend, near brother,
Dear Padraic of the wide and sea-cold eyes -
So, lovable, so courteous and noble,
The very west was in his soft replies.
They'll miss his heavy stick and stride in Wicklow -
His story-talking down Winetavern Street,
Where old men sitting inthe wizen daylight
Have kept an edge upon his gentle wit;
While women on the grassy streets of Galway,
Who hearken for his passing - but in vain,
Shall hardly tell his step as shadows vanish
Through archways of forgotten Spain.
Ah, they'll say, Padraic's gone again exploring;
But now down glens of brightness, O he'll find
An alehouse overflowing with wise Gaelic
That's braced in vigour by the bardic mind,
And there his thoughts shall find their own forefathers -
In minds to whom our heights of race belong,
in crafty men, who ribberd a ship or turned
The secret joinery of song.
Alas, death mars the parchment of his forehead;
And yet for him, I know, the earth is mild -
The windy fidgets of September grasses
Can never tease a mind that loved the wild;
So drink his peace - this grey juice of the barley
Runs with a light that ever pleased his eye -
While old flames nod and gossip on the hearthstone
And only the young winds cry.
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