Padraic Colum

(8 December 1881 – 11 January 1972 / County Longford)

The Landing - Poem by Padraic Colum

THE great ship lantern-girdled.
The tender standing by;
The waning stars cloud-shrouded,
The land that we descry!

That pale land is our homeland,
And we are bound therefor;
On her lawns nor in her coppice
No birds as yet make stir.

But birds are
flying round us,
The white birds of the sea
It is the breeze of morning,
This that comes hummingly.

And like the talk that comes from
A room where a babe is born
Such clearness and such mystery
Are in words said on the morn,

Where, like a nation cloven,
In two our ranks divide:
One half on the high ship's bulwark,
One half by the tender's side;

Where, like a people sundered,
Who yet have each other's hail,
Faces look down from the bulwarks,
And look up from the tender's rail;

And names are called and spoken
'Nancy,' 'Mary,' 'Owen'!
'Good-bye, and keep your promise!'
'Farewell to you, my son!'

They are more spirit-stirring
Than any words that are
Remembered from the spokesmen
Of any avatar!

'Oh, all I had to tell you!'
'Ellen,' 'Michael,' 'Joan'-
'Good-bye, and God be with you!'
'And can it be you're gone!'

The great ship lantern-girdled,
Her engines thresh, immerse
The great ship that had station
Takes motion for her course.

Her little course the tender,
Our little ship, goes on
The stars they are fast waning,
But we'll land ere 'tis the dawn!

Green, greener grows the foreland
Across the slate-dark sea,
And I'll see faces, places
That have been dreams to me!

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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