Padraic Colum

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

The Rune-Master - Poem by Padraic Colum

ARCH-SCHOLAR they'll call you,
Kuno Mayer,
Who know the word
Behind the word
The men of learning . . .
But who will tell them
Of the blackbird
That your heart held?

On an old thorn-tree
By an ancient rath
You heard him sing,
And with runes you charmed him
Till he stayed with you,
Giving clear song.

He sang o'er all
That Maravaun
Told King Guire;
And he told you how
Bran heard the singing
Of a lovely woman
And sailed for Faerie;
And of how slain princes
Kept tryst with women
Loved beyond
The pain of death,
In days when still
The boat of Mananaun
Bore towards Eirinn!

Arch-scholar they'll call you
Nay, Rune-master!
You read in texts
Not words only,
But runes of old time;
And when you spoke them
A curlew cried
Over grass-waste Tara,
And a cuckoo called
From the height of Cashel,
And an eagle flew
From Emain Macha!

Ochone, ochone!
That we'll see no more
In the Eastern or
The Western World
Your great head over
The lectern bending,
Nor hear your lore
By a pleasant fireside.

But the runes you've read
Have given us more
Than the sword might win us:
May kind saints of Eirinn
Be beside you
Where birds on the Living
Tree sing the Hours!


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010



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