Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Beloved Poem

I had to learn this poem in school when I was around 14, and I fell in love. It's clung to me over the years and I find I say it quietly, internally, when I am confronted with great beauty or an unexpected delight. The tears spring to my eyes, happy tears, sad tears, mixed tears. Elephant's Child posted her beautiful Sunday Selections photographs and "my" poem, of course, came to mind and I thought to share it with her and now to share it with you too, my readers.

The poet, Patrick Pearse, was an Irish hero, teacher, writer, poet, rebel, fighter for Irish freedom, and wrote this poem in Kilmainham Gaol on the eve of his death by British firing squad for taking part in the 1916 Rebellion at the GPO in Dublin. He was 26 years old.

The Wayfarer

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way


  1. I loved that you shared this poem on my Sunday Selections post and so did at least one of my readers.
    While you had told me that he had been executed I hadn't realised that he wrote this poem so close to his death. It adds yet another level of poignancy.

  2. Oh, you're taking me back! I too had to memorize that poem in school and loved it. Such simple things, things he was never going to see again; his young life, barely begun, snatched from him the very next day. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. A lovely poem. Not surprising it has haunted you for so long.

  4. I am not a poetry person but, this is quite inspiring.

  5. Lovely poem, WWW! It reminds me, in "feel" and rhythm, of one or two poems from poets of the First World War. He was, indeed, part of his own World's War at that, very sad, time.

  6. Execution: an awful, regrettable, wrong thing. -Kate

  7. On the eve of his execution .. wow!

  8. What a handsome man he was and too young to die.

  9. He was actually 36 when he died.


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