Padraic Colum

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

The Old College - Poem by Padraic Colum

Of the Irish, Paris
THE Lombards having gone back to their land,
We, who might never flock to native land
Except like birds that fly like fugitives,
Desperately, in a wind across the sea,
We drew our brood to their forsaken nest.
The Lombards’ halls became the Irelanders',
And charity was craved for us 'twas given
In names of Almantza and Namur,
Cremona, Barcelona, Charleroi
Fields that our soldiers bled on for a cause
Not ours, under command not ours.

Our order broken, they who were our brood
Knew not themselves the heirs of noted masters,
Of Columbanus and Erigena:
We strove towards no high reach of speculation,
Towards no delivery of gestated dogma,
No resolution of age-long dispute.
Only to have a priest beside the hedges,
Baptizing, marrying,
Offering Mass within some clod-built chapel,
And to the dying the last sacrament
Conveying, no more we strove to do
We, all bare exiles, soldiers, scholars, priests.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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