Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Old Woman of the Roads

by Padraic Colum

Oh, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped-up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed, and loth to leave
The ticking clock and shining delph!

Och! by I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house or bush,
And tired I am of bog and road
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house--a house of my own--
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

* * *

For my part, I am weary of my college dorm. The thing I want most when I graduate is a place of my own. I don't understand people who don't want to move out. As for me, I lie awake nights dreaming out a little apartment, or maybe a small house for when I can afford one.

I just got this new anthology of Catholic poetry and am so excited. Maybe the poems I pull out of it will make up for my recent deliquency. (I blame the Venerable Bede for it. I've been translating him all week.)

The love of a home is not specifically Catholic, yet it's something Catholics have always held dear. Maybe it's because the Church believes in private property. Chesterton would have something to say about that, I'm sure. But also, a house means a home, and a home suggests a family to live in it. It means warmth, stability, hospitality, and so many other things. The joy of being able to open one's door to a friend or a stranger is one you can't have without a place of your own. A home is a gateway to a plethora of virtues.

(Delph, by the way, is a kind of Dutch earthenware.)


Anonymous said...

Yes, GKC said several things about "home"... here's one favourite, in an unlikely place:

Whatever starts wars, the thing that sustains wars is something in the soul; that is something akin to religion. It is what men feel about life and about death. A man near to death is dealing directly with an absolute; it is nonsense to say he is concerned only with relative and remote complications that death in any case will end. If he is sustained by certain loyalties, they must be loyalties as simple as death. They are generally two ideas, which are only two sides of one idea. The first is the love of something said to be threatened, if it be only vaguely known as home; the second is dislike and defiance of some strange thing that threatens it. The first is far more philosophical than it sounds, though we need not discuss it here. A man does not want his national home destroyed or even changed, because he cannot even remember all the good things that go with it; just as he does not want his house burnt down, because he can hardly count all the things he would miss. Therefore he fights for what sounds like a hazy abstraction, but is really a house.
[GKC, The Everlasting Man CW2:272-3]

And I am sure the is more, but I have no time just now to hunt for them.

I like that poem, it is touching.

--Dr. Thursday

√Čamonn said...

Originally it was earthenware cups or plates from Delft. More recently it's just meant cups, saucers or plates of any kind; it's a west of Ireland expression. My grandmother always used it, and most of my 11 aunts from Galway still do.

Sheila said...

Good quote, Dr. T. :) And right as always.

Thanks, √Čamonn. I didn't know about all that.

info said...

learned the poem in school in Ireland. Related to a time of evictions and the creation of the dispossed people . Irish gypsies are not related to european romany peoples. The sadness or irish history is expressed here. Those who died , those who fled and those who wandered the roads are all linked.
Regards Sean Daly

Thomas said...

This is a beauitful old Irish poem,
one can feel the cold winter wind just reading it.

By the way, I can still hear mother shouting at me,"mind you don't break the delft!"

Kind regards

Thomas Blaze O'Rourke