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Analysis of Raglan Road

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RAGLAN ROAD


Related threads:
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Explore: Raglan Road 2 (235)
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She changed the words to Raglan Road (130)
Raglan Road - Recorded versions (89)
Lyr Req: Raglan Road, is it 'pledge' or 'play' ? (69)
A recording of Raglan Road? (10)
(origins) Origins: Sinead O'Connor--Raglan Road (6)


Seany 23 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM
zander (inactive) 23 Jan 01 - 09:50 AM
Wolfgang 23 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM
Pinetop Slim 23 Jan 01 - 10:15 AM
MartinRyan 23 Jan 01 - 10:18 AM
AndyG 23 Jan 01 - 10:52 AM
Jon W. 23 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM
Seany 23 Jan 01 - 12:22 PM
zander (inactive) 23 Jan 01 - 01:35 PM
Fergie 23 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM
Mark Cohen 23 Jan 01 - 08:17 PM
Jimmy C 24 Jan 01 - 12:18 AM
Lady McMoo 24 Jan 01 - 04:31 AM
mcpiper 24 Jan 01 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Fibula Mattock 24 Jan 01 - 06:49 AM
Seany 24 Jan 01 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,John Hill 24 Jan 01 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM
JedMarum 24 Jan 01 - 10:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,guinnesschik (blushing at the compliment) 24 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM
jonilog 24 Jan 01 - 11:20 AM
Noreen 24 Jan 01 - 12:11 PM
Margaret V 24 Jan 01 - 12:17 PM
pict 24 Jan 01 - 01:14 PM
Amergin 24 Jan 01 - 01:21 PM
Mark Cohen 24 Jan 01 - 05:54 PM
Mark Cohen 24 Jan 01 - 05:56 PM
Frank McGrath 24 Jan 01 - 06:58 PM
Jimmy C 24 Jan 01 - 07:04 PM
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ard mhacha 03 Sep 01 - 02:44 AM
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ard mhacha 03 Sep 01 - 05:54 AM
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Thomas the Rhymer 03 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM
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ard mhacha 03 Sep 01 - 04:45 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: RAGLAN ROAD (Patrick Kavanagh)^^^
From: Seany
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM

I am trying to understand the poem Raglan Road by Patrick Kavanagh before I sing the song. I need to know the accepted interpretation of the following lines.(full lyrics included at end of message)

verse 1

"And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day"

Does he mean that although he suspects that things will go wrong he is going to forge onwards regardless because he is a slave to his passion?

Verse 2

what does he mean by 'of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge'? and why is the Queen of Hearts making tarts and why is he not making hay?

verse 3

What does he mean by 'secret sign' that is known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone?

lyrics below :-


RAGLAN ROAD
(Patrick Kavanagh)

On Raglan Road on an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might someday rue
I saw the danger
Yet I walked
Along the enchanted way
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day

On Grafton Street in November
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine
Where can be seen
The worth of passion's pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
And I not making hay
Oh I loved too much
And by such and such
Is happiness thrown away

I gave her gifts of the mind
I gave her the secret sign
That's known to the artists
Who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint, I did not stint,
I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair
Like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should
A creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose
His wings at the dawning of the day.^^^


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 09:50 AM

Don't analyse it, just sing it. Dave


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM

Sorry, Seany, I can't contribute from lack of knowledge but I want to say that I have often profited much from Mudcat discussion abotu song.

Dave (zander), I disagree. In some cases (not in all cases, I admit), knowing about the background of a song or knowing what it was about has even helped me to sing it slightly different in inflection, phrasing, tempo etc. For instance, since I have learned here, that 'Johnny I hardly knew you' was not an anti-war song, as I had wrongly presumed, but a spiteful song by a left lover, I haven't sung the song in the same way as before.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:15 AM

Way I heard the story, the song sets the story of Charles Stuart Parnell's affair with Kitty O'Shea to the tune of Dawning of the Day. If that's true, some of the symbolism might deal with the Irish-English politics of the late 1800s.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:18 AM

Click here for a start, Seany!

I'd sit on the fence between Dave and Wolfgang on this one. Certainly it often helps to understand a song if you want to deliver it convincingly - God knows I've heard more than enough cases of people singing Irish songs in ways that did no justice to the song, through apparent lack of understanding. On the other hand - its a two-way process. As you sing it and tease it out, you learn more about it. If the "analysis" becomes an end in itself, it kills the song just as efficiently as ignorance.

Regards

p.s. There are also, of course, some songs we sing just because we don't really understand them - we just try to preserve the mystery.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:52 AM

v1
I saw the danger Yet I walked Along the enchanted way
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf At the dawning of the day

v2
Deep ravine...
I've always thought of this as a sort of Lover's Leap reference but I don't know the geography refered to.
Queen of Hearts...
The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summers day. (nursery rhyme)
Make hay while the sun shines. (proverb)
er.. this is poetry, its job is to get large images into small sentences, I think.

v3
Ah, so you don't know the secret sign eh ? Then you can't be an artist who's "known the true gods of sound and stone" ;-)

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jon W.
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM

v1 - He knows he's going to be in for some heartbreak but the pain is inconsequential compared to the pleasure

v2 - The situation is precarious - he might fall off the edge at any minute. Time is passing in his frivolous pursuit of this woman.

v3 - He's sculpted, painted, and wrote poetry for this gal.

v4 - The affair is over now - it has ended as he knew all along it would. He has some regret that he has temporarily left the sublimity of pure art for worldly pleasures.

All this of course, is just my opinion of the song's meaning. What does it mean to you?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Seany
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 12:22 PM

Interesting reponse - thankyou.

V2. I think he is likening a male/female relationship to a deep ravine.

As he preceives the relationship in this light to begin with it is no wonder it fails (see also the predicted grief in v1)

He expects this woman to have the same feelings towards things as he does but she maybe doesn't respond in the right way. He really wants someone who preceives and feels exactly the same way as he does i.e. himself.

As a result the relationship fails.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 01:35 PM

I bow to Wolfgang, it really is better to understand what you are singing, apologies to Seany. Dave


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Fergie
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM

This song is about a women Kavanagh had a fling with, she worked in a bakery called Roberts hence the referance to baking tarts, he was a farmers son hence making hay,Raglan rd and the enchanted way are names of streets in the part of dublin where he lived at the time. The other referances are concerned with poetic vision, language and licence. in the end it finished badly for Kavanagh he felt gutted, betrayed and used, but it inspired him to write this beautiful poem/song to the air of of a very old Irish melody called 'Fainne geal an lae' which loosely translates as 'the dawning of the day'.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 08:17 PM

Well, I'll vote for Fergie on this one. Sounds absolutely right, given the song...and I suspect inside information. I just love the Mudcat!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jimmy C
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:18 AM

I will go along with a combination of JonW and Fergie.

Kavanagh knows the woman is not good for him but he throws caution to the wind and starts a relatonship anyway. I think perhaps she may have been a bit iof a hooker. The queens of Hearts I think refers to Dublin city and the tarts are the hookers in that area ?. The secret sign may have been some attempt by Kavanagh to educate this woman about some of the finer things in life. Later after the affair has ended he still sees her walking the streets. I guess only Kavanagh knows for sure, but it is an interesting exercise trying to read his mind.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 04:31 AM

When this poem was first published in 1946 it was entitled "Dark haired Myriam ran away".

I'd say therefore, like others above that the poem is about the poet's ill-fated love for a local girl. The "still making hay" reference is clearly a reference to Kavanagh's own country roots.

Kavanagh lived in Pembroke St., Dublin, close to Raglan Road, from 1946 (the date of the poem) until 1958 and then at 19 Raglan Road itself from 1958 to 1959.

Peace

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: mcpiper
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:17 AM

Just an aside from the poem, a wee story about the author himself.
A mate of mine, blues player Mike Brosnan told me his grandfather used to drink with Kavanagh, and reckoned Kavanagh told him he had only ever had one happy day in his life.
Sort of goes with the poem.
mcpiper


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Fibula Mattock
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:49 AM

Kavanagh was a grumpy old git apparently. It is alledged that he used to spit on the seat beside him on the bus so no one would sit there and disturb him. He lies in the "stony grey soil of Monaghan" in the graveyard at Iniskeen, where my grandfather and my uncle are also buried.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Seany
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 08:40 AM

Thanks everyone for your contributions,

I think he sounds a bit full of himself and arrogant but I can identify with the sentiments expressed in the song as I am guilty of being like that too.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,John Hill
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 09:17 AM

I've been trying to understand this song for ages.. reading through this has helped a lot.. thanks..
I don't agree at all with the person that suggested that it isn't necessary to understand a song to sing it. How can you sing a song with any conviction if you don't know what its about?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM

I have a thought on one troublesome line, as follows.

I have a recording of this by the Boys of the Lough, and it seems to go, "I sat like Grief be (which can mean "by" in an Irish dialect) a fallen leaf..."

In Europe in earlier decades it was very common for a grave to be decorated with a memorial statue or tablet featuring allegorical women named "Grief" or "Patience". These figures expressed the family's sense of loss.

(Have you ever heard the old simile, "...like Patience on a monument, staring at Grief?")

To finish, I think the line means that the poet sat silent and still a long time, as it happens, near a fallen leaf and at dawn.

Why is the line at the beginning of the poem rather than the end? It's because of the tyranny of rhymes and meter, that's why. --------- As for the poet feeling "gutted, betrayed and used..." (earlier thread), that's going rather far! She didn't get him started on heroine or turn his family into the Nazis, you know.

I have always thought that the poet's biggest problem is not rejection, but shame -- that he went too far, too hard, sexually. Perhaps nearly raped her. That's why she walks hurriedly away at the end, and that's the reason for the references to clay, etc.

Shame is a lot harder on us than sadness.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 10:34 AM

Our own Mudcatter, "guinesschik" does just a kick ass, bluegrass flavored version of this song. I'll point her to the thread so she can add her two cents!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM

You certainly need to understand what a song or a poem is about. But this does not mean you always need to pin down the imagery - images are fluid, and ambiguous, and don't work like painting by numbers.

And the writer of a song or poem isn't necessarily the final authority, songs and poems can take on a meaning that might not have been in their mind at all, and that new meaning, given to it by the people who pick it up and pass it on is equally valid. Johnny I hardly knew ye is a case in point.

Fergie's comment about the lady having a job in a bakery in a bakery has the smack of truth about it, and if so it's a charming little touch for Patrick Kavanagh to have put in the reference - but that's only the beginning of the sense of the phrase, in the context.

It provides a hint of formality and majesty, maybe it suggests that it's all a game on her part, it suggests a down-to-earth practicality about her, with flour up to the elbows.

Again "I not making hay" simultaneously suggests that he knows he's wasting time on this, when he should be writing poems or whatever, and also that he is a long way from where he came from in the country, stuck in the city.

Put the two together, and he's a peasant and she's a queen, and it's a fairy story.

And so on and so forth. The images are multi-faceted.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,guinnesschik (blushing at the compliment)
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM

I've heard the song done many different ways, and I have to credit you guys with having a bit more insight into it than I do, but I'd also have to say that I believe them all to be true to a certain extent. I have always viewed "Raglan Road" as being bittersweet, full of longing and yearning, but with a dark twist. Ive always viewd it as somewhat of a Pygmalian (sp?) story, where the poet falls madly in love (or lust) with an uneducated type, tries to create her persona, and fails.

It is important to understand a song, in part, to sing it, but it's what you believe about the song that makes it yours.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: jonilog
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:20 AM

I have a songbook called " The Place in the Song " in which there is an article about the song written by someone called Benedict Kiely.He claimed that he was present the first time the song was sung.Kavanagh worked beside him in a newspaper office in Dublin .He states that Kavanagh wrote the song in the office and there was an impromptu performance by a quartet of those present at the time.He knew the woman in the song. To quote" But the point was that the historian and myself knew the lovely lady referred to in the song. She was in college with us. And by showing us the song the poet was most intimately , making his statement."


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:11 PM

I heard a discussion in a pub after this song was sung, wish I could remember all the details. But far from being a Pygmalion-type story, Kavanagh was indeed a drunken, 'grumpy old git' who knew that she was too good for him, and that's why there was no future in the relationship. She did indeed go on to better things, married well...

I'd love to hear more details.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Margaret V
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:17 PM

Many thanks to all for these interesting perspectives on the song. Can anyone point me in the direction of early (say, 1950s) recordings of it? Thanks. Margaret


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: pict
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 01:14 PM

Give me Brendan Behan any day.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Amergin
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 01:21 PM

Personally, I have always felt that analysism (sp?) kills the joy and beauty of the poem.....I hated mine being analysed in my poetry classes, it just ruins the magic the words hold....


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 05:54 PM

Margaret, I'd check out Dick Gaughan's rendition. I think he does justice to the poetry. I think it's on "Coppers and Brass", but I'm often wrong.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 05:56 PM

By the way, a note to Joe or Max or whomever, I suggest this thread go into the "Classic Mudcat threads" collection, wherever that may be -- it's been wonderful following it.
Done.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Frank McGrath
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:58 PM

Just a quick note as I love Kavanagh and his poetry. They are specil to me.

As a very little boy we lived on Lower Baggott St. Dublin nor far from Raglan Road. We actually lived over a pub, and it was often frequented by Kavanagh and his peers of the time. I was too young to be allowed "downstairs" in the evening time when the pub would be busy but often, on the way home from school or when out for a walk I would see Patrick Kavanagh.

My father had pointed him out as someone special but it wasn't until many years later that I realised who this grumpy old man was. He always seemed so alone. I never rememer him in the company of others.

Later, when I began to have an interest in his writing and he was long dead I discovered that my childish instincts were very keen. He was a very lonely man and a very unhappy man. He loved women - but they did not love him. He had no social skills.

Raglan Road is a poem of unrequited love or even more accurately, hopeless infatuation. Kavanagh loved a lady who was another mans wife (a very prominent person too). He knew from the start that his love would not be returned but he couldn't help himself - he loved her from afar.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jimmy C
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 07:04 PM

Frank,

Thanks fir that story. It's too bad you did not stop and speak to him, that would be something to remember. I guess I got it all wrong. Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 07:31 PM

I have always loved this poem, all except for the one couplet:
"When the angel woos the clay, He'll lose his wings at the dawn of the day"

That has always struck me as such a self-centered, dismissive sentiment, and in truth, it spoils the poem for me. A more generous soul would have wished the girl well, reaizing that they were not made for each other. ( Incidentally the bakery girl sounds much more likely than the married lady).

I have always suspected that Kavanagh had just such a personality as has been confirmed above. But despite that "Raglan Road" is still one of the most evocative and haunting songs ever written.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mickey191
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 02:33 AM

It's funny how one can hear a song many times and it leaves no great impression. Then someone arranges it and gets a great singer & keyboard artist to bring new life and meaning to the material. Such is the case with Raglan Road sung by Joan Osborne. I play it 10 0r more times every day and am captive to its' beauty and pain. Love lost-is there any theme more haunting? If you have not heard Miss Osborne, Beg, borrow or buy "The Chieftains tears of stone."


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 04:43 AM

I'm a big Kavanagh fan...my personal favourite poem of his is "Pegasus". I've often heard that he was a grumpy type but he must have been burning inside.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:03 AM

re: "When the angel woos..."

I offer a different take on this addmittedly unfortunate phrasing.

Angel serves as a metaphor for artists generally (specifically the author) implying a "spiritual" viewpoint. Clay represents non-artists (materialists?), those people with a more "worldly" view.
Translation:
This is the choice that Kavanagh faces.

No more correct that any other reading of poetry, that's the beauty of poetry, but it's the way I've always understood the lyric and I was dumbstruck by the realisation that there was a more obvious and far more cruel interpretation.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:05 AM

Bugger, missed a bracket !

re: "When the angel woos..."

Angel serves as a metaphor for artists generally (specifically the author) implying a "spiritual" viewpoint. Clay represents non-artists (materialists?), those people with a more "worldly" view.
Translation:
When the artist (angel) pursues material (clay) values he sacrifices the very attributes (wings) which define him.
This is the choice that Kavanagh faces.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:52 AM

There's an ambiguity, probably intentional, in those last two lines.

I woo'd not as I should a creature made of clay

You can say that two ways - one way he's saying that he shouldn't have wooed her at all; and the other is that he wooed here in the wrong way.

The implication of the first meaning carries over into the final line, and it's effectively saying, if you play with fire you'll get burnt, so you shouldn't play with fire.

But with the second meaning it's more that he's recogbnising that for an angel (a poet) to woo a mortal means giving up the trappings and privileges of being an angel, and that's the way to do it. And there's regret that he didn't see that in time.

I suspect there's both meanings in it at the same time.

But one thing I think probably isn't there is the sense that being a creature of clay is a put-down, as of something unworthy or soiled - I'd see it as just meaning mortal, like anyone descended from Adam and Eve. (But maybe I'm wrong there, and that's another level of ambiguity in how he's feeling.)


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 09:40 AM

i love this song, and i love this thread...

there's a kind of madness to this song, the kind of lonesome insanity that you feel when you're sitting in the subway car analyzing everybody around you, and singing songs in your head, but feeling quite invisible and unwatched yourself. i love it that these not uncommon feelings of unrequited passion have been expressed in the kind of imagery that makes everything so seem so much bigger and more significant than it really is. long dark hair, angels, ravines, secret signs....it's brilliant! here's someone who didn't just feel the feelings intensely, but could really write about them.

~ black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 10:30 AM

Mickey191' I agree about Joan Osborne's version. I've only heard one or two other versions of this song, but NO ONE will ever be able to do it better. I too listen to it every day.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:38 PM

Mmm, y'all may be right about "the creature made of clay" meaning merely mortal, but it is still a fairly presumptuous metaphor, IMHO. My gut feeling however is that it WAS intended as a put-down, to salve his amour-propre. He tried to get her to play Eliza Doolittle to his Professor Higgins, and was she grateful? Not bloody likely !

It has just struck me that the only other song I know with such potent and vivid imagery is Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man", (and maybe "Love Minus Zero No Limit). Hope that isn't going from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Murray


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:51 PM

but it is still a fairly presumptuous metaphor,

If so the blame surely lies with whoever wrote the Book of Genesis? As I said, it's ambiguous, as people's feelings about these things often are ambiguous. Wounded pride or regret, you can sing it either way, and the listener can take it either way.

And either way, the lady in question gets immortalised.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:57 PM

i think the ending explains the whole; it's all been about a mortal and an immortal. it's the kind of relationship which could never be realized without severe consequences....

~ black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Fergie
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 08:23 PM

For me the definitive version of this song is by Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. What a voice, what feeling, what resonance. Brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: mcpiper
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 01:28 AM

What a great thread. For years I have listened to the song, read it to people a a poem, and spent a lot of time thinking about it. Now I have a clearer idea of what it's all about, not too far from what I had worked out.
The one line above all others I wish I had penned, for me, has to be
"On a quite street, where old ghosts meet."
I have never heard the song performed by anyone, good, bad, drunk, or whatever, when I didn't enjoy and look forward to the next line.
Keep up the brilliant threads and info.
mcpiper


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 06:33 AM

the only time i didn't liked hearing this song was when i heard it performed quickly.

i keep wondering about that line, 'on a quiet street...'. Raglan Road and Grafton Street are named, and The Enchanted Way is alluded to as well, but this last street is unnamed. is it possible that this is verse is about what happens after death, or are the 'old ghosts' a reference to yet another specific location?

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: rube1
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 07:30 AM

While the original source of the myth/legend/story about the consequences of angels "literally" coupling with mortals is unknown to me, it does seem to be a theme rooted in Irish folklore. The metaphoric applications are infinite, as in this song, Raglan Road, where the final reference to the plight of a clay wooing angel elevates the singer's sorrow to an ethereal plane. I don't hear in it the singer referring to himself as an angel/artist. That would ruin it for me too if I heard it that way. To me, the angel reference is a bit of irony the singer takes for solace. I've only heard the Van Morrison/Chieftains version, but it made quite an impression. An interesting cinematic illustration of this theme is the movie "Gotham" w/ Tommy Lee Jones and Virginia Madsen.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,visitor
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 04:34 PM

Pardon me, not a musician, poet, or artist of any kind, for imposing a post-script on this apparently long dead thread. I was drawn to this song by recent life developments, pulling it out of the deep recesses of my memory and looking up the lyrics on the web, which lead me here. You people provided me with a lot of insight and inspiration, so, a few points:

1. The extreme vulgarity of describing oneself as an angel and the ex as essentially a mud person struck me as a conceit that couldn't have been intended by the most arrogant of artists. I think I can provide a defense in mitigation of that concern: He didn't mean that he was an angel, but he did mean that his interests were in poetry and other art, and less in the material matters of this world. His important point was that he tried to interest her in the things he valued, but which were not her particular interests. He made an error and paid a heavier price than expected. When one's stated interest is in the ephemeral, rather than the material, it is a slippery slope to pretentiousness, but the truth was what it was.

2. When he said let grief be a fallen (or falling) leaf at the dawn of the day, he meant "No fear." "Just do it." Of that I am now quite certain. Instead of triumphing in his boast, however, he learned a painful lesson about the grief of love lost. No one can will it to be a mere fallen leaf (at the dawn of the day), it is more akin to an angel losing his wings (at the dawn of the day.)

3. The original disagreement about the merits of deciphering original intent versus taking the words as they are, and perhaps kneading them (with a bard's license) certainly has merit on both sides. However, the proponents of deciphering have some tangible proof of what can go haywire with a "just do it" approach: The recording by Sandy Durkin and her band members will not sit well with anyone who enjoys this song for emotional impact.

4. In the "no accounting for taste" department, I'll go out on a limb and discuss my preferred renditions: (I haven't had the privilege of hearing Marie O'Brien's recording yet.) As seems to be the unanimous agreement above, Joan Osborne's version (with the Chieftains) pretty much has to take top honors. However, there are other recordings, which, depending on both your mood and temperament, may suit the mood and win preference at any given time. Eleanor Shanley (Album?) Most notable among these is one by Eleanor Shanley. Of my "top four," hers is the only one made without the Chieftains in support. Roger Daltrey (An Irish Evening) It took me a long time to identify the singer, and I was most surprised to learn that it was none other than Roger Daltrey. This is one of the mre exercised versions and won't go over with many, I imagine, but I like it, and I've never liked the Who's music.) Van Morrison (Irish Heartbeat) I'm an extreme vanophile, so it wasn't easily that I had to give him fourth place honours. Sinnead O'Connor (Common Ground) I detested Sinnead's version at first, but, since hers is the most unadorned version, with no embellishment at all, it has grown on me quite comfortably. Mark Knopfler Mark Knopfler seems to be trying a Robbie Robertson imitation, but it sounds a bit more like Leonard Cohen with a few cups of coffee in him. No matter, one has to use one's voice characteristics as they can, I guess, and he doesn't do injury to the emotion. The song can handle a lot of variety in interpretation.

Anyway, thanks to you all. I'm not usually so wordy, but this has been a lot of fun. Vive mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 01:07 AM

Well, it is a lovely song in any case. For my part, it reminds me of my ex-wife. I find that I still love her and I feel that same bitter-sweet emotion that the song imparts. My favorite version is by Peter Rowan. The latest version I heard was on the Chieftan's album "Tears of Stone" by Joan Osborne but I felt the tempo was just a wee bit slower than needed.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 08:40 AM

I Have just come on to this thread and I cannot believe that Patrick Kavanaghs two great books were not mentioned, Read TARRY FLYNN and The GREEN FOOL for an understanding of a brilliant writer and poet. Poor old Kavanagh had enough of the country yokel in him to be taken in by street wise Dublin city girls. He was a lonely man who had lingered too long on his Monaghan Farm and was never at ease with the urban way of life. The song surely spells this out without trying to phylophise every phrase. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 09:16 AM

I like hearing good songs on records, and on stages, and you learn a lot from that. But that isn't where they live. They live on the lips of ourselves and our friends when we sing them face to face.

Incidentally, for people who get hung up about these kind of things, I'd say this is a song that would work just as powerfully if all the "hers" were turned to "his", and so forth, sung from the stance of a woman poet. Does anyone ever do it that way?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 09:51 AM

Hats off to this thread. What a fine conversation. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 10:11 AM

I vote for never changing the hers to his in any song, but especially in such a beautiful song as this. That is song tampering in my book. mg


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,bluebird
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 05:58 PM

So what if he was a grumpy old git as they always say of Robert Frost.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 06:05 PM

Yeah, there's quite a few of us GOGs around...


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 06:47 PM

I agree, great thread. I like Dick Gaughan's version from "Kist O' Gold." I had the idea of singing the song to the tune of Dobbin's Flowery Veil (from Len Graham's rendition of that song with Skylark) and Raglan sings ok with that tune too. I've felt uncomfortable with the secret sign verse and don't sing it.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 08:04 AM

Phil, I also would feel uncomfortable singing Dobbins flowery "VEIL", sounds better sung as VALE. The Vale is only a few miles down the road from me, between Armagh and Portadown. Paddy Kavanagh is looking down on us and enjoying leaving another wee bit of controversy. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Aug 01 - 10:02 AM

I've always wanted to believe that "The Enchanted Way" was a reference to the street that runs along Grand Canal between Leeson and Baggot St. bridges, where Kavanaugh's statute is found...anyone who has spent time there knows just how enchanted it is, especially in the fall. Many lovers young and old stroll along the Canal there.

There are definite resonances with traditional themes in Irish love lyrics in this poem. But someone's reference to angels being one of them struck me as rather odd. Angels aren't all that common in the folklore, at least not the older stuff.

Common to many Irish love lyrics is the theme of poor country boy in love with daughter of wealth and status (often from the town or city). I see this song as an attempt by Kavanaugh to write a traditional Irish love song, which explains a lot about the "mysteries" some people see in the words. Some of it is about rhyme and meter, some of it is fairly stock phrasing from the tradition, to be sure.

As to the ending, I've always thought it was reference to the dangers of putting one's beloved on a pedastal, and of being enamoured of the illusion of romantic love, rather than actually loving the real human being.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 01:05 AM

Spot on Ard, Kavanagh's 'Tarry Flynn' gives a very good insight into his own character. Not only did he fall for the Dublin girl but he abandoned his normal caution and timidity with women knowing he would inevitably make a fool of himself but unable to resist her earthy charm. Luke Kelly's version must be the definitive one if only because of Kelly's gut-wrenching style.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,phylophisationer
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 01:47 AM

Whoa, I thought I was posting an item to a basically dead web page to be visted on rare occassion by internet stragglers like myself. I'll go read up on Mudcat eitquette ~after~ briefly mentioning two pertinent quotes I stumbled upon.

"A poem should not mean but be." Archie Macleish 1926

And if Mr. K. is having a chuckle, here's a tweak to raise the Irish in him:

"He who loves the more, is inferior and must suffer. . . ." Thomas Mann 1903

Silly of me to not have mentioned Luke Kelly. In my mind I regarded him as the baseline from which to compare the others.

Thanks again, though. What to many of you is "fairly stock phrasing from the tradition" can be lost upon others, causing unnecessary misunderstanding. I'm sure I enjoy the song even more now. (It can now even bring a tear to my cold blue eye.)


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AliUK
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 02:14 AM

With songs such as Raglan Road I think it's justified to try and tease out the metaphors within the narrative to better understand the author's intentions. Then to find some kind of baseline connection with our own emotions to bring out the feeling within a song. Though Kavanagh was embittered he found his writing to be an outlet for the beauty that was hidden beneath his defensive exterior. With more traditional material where it is difficult to find an author's intentions ( sometimes of various authors down the years) we have to look inwards and interpret the songs on a purely personal level.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 11:00 AM

In my opinion.

To sing or interpret a song or piece of poetry. You do have to feel and impart the emotions of your interpretation. But you do not have to know what the author intended. Having said that, I have truly enjoyed this thread and I have learned much.

Thanks to everyone.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 11:32 AM

Re: angels in the song. It is interesting that one of the poetic shifts in the 19-20 century has been from envying angels their heavenly role towards pitying them that they do not have earthly experience. The film Wings of Desire works on this theme: the importance of losing your wings, the positiveness of being a fallen angel, etc. This is part of the long trend towards turning one's back on "eternal heaven" and the positive reassessment of ordinary life that characterizes modernity. The song is in this territory: clay, losing wings, etc. It is not clear that losing wings a good thing or a bad.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Rag
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 07:58 AM

Has anyone seen Peter Kavanagh's (Paddy's brother) comments on this poem. He thinks it was written when he was dumped by his girlfriend. It was first published in the Irish Times, I think, and according to Peter Kavanagh, had no great political meaning at all.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 08:39 AM

A bit late in the day, here's my tuppence worth.

I can only echo ard mhacha's comments regarding the Green Fool and Tarry Flynn. Anybody who's ever sang Raglan Road and felt moved by it in any way ought to check out his two prose works. Along with The Poor Mouth and The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, they stand head and shoulders above any other works of prose that were being published in Ireland at the time, the only contemporaries being vaguely in the same league as them being Joyce, Beckett, O'Casey and Behan.

Sinead O'Connor sings a great version of Raglan Road. But my mate Dermot Maguire – piper, singer and guitarist, who has a summer-long residency in The Annexe Inn in Keel, Achill Island, Co. Mayo only a few days left, hurry, hurrry, hurry – renders the song better than anyone I've ever heard. (For that man's voice I would slaughter the innocents!)

I can see how people interpret the last verse as implying that Kavanagh has inflated, pompous opinions of himself. But this, to me, is a flawed reading (and out of kilter with the rest of the poem in any event). Anyone reading Tarry Flynn or The Green Fool will be struck by just how hard Kavanagh was on himself! Calling your autobiography "The Green Fool" is not the actions of a bombast …

I've always read the lines as pointing to the fact that when we're in love we feel exhilarated, uplifted, immortal. But we love only mortals like ourselves – as capable as we are of ballsing up. And when he/she/I/we cause(s) the relationship (or potential or imaginary relationship as may have been the case in this poem) to go wrong, we suddenly lose that heightened sense and become "clay" again.

As I say, just my tuppence worth.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 12:29 PM

Worth much more than a tuppence, M.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 12:30 PM

I meant, D. (Don't know where the M. came from....)

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Paddy Plastique
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 02:45 PM

Anyone interested in Kavanagh autobiography might try the most succinct expression of it:
'If Ever You Go To Dublin Town'. He sings it himself on a tape available from Claddagh (I think)
I picture the song in the same area of Dublin mentioned by Frank (McGrath) above.
Puts some flesh on the bones of the 'grumpy old git'
Bear in mind, too, that he disowned 'The Green Fool' later in his life
Anyone any comments on the relation to or possible resonance with the song in Irish?
I find the version I tracked down banal by comparison with Kavanagh - a lad gets brushed off by a milkmaid in the dawn.
Apart from the beauty of the title's imagery it has nothing that prefigures Kavanagh's take or even lives up to the melody


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 06:18 PM

Since you asked (or even if you didn't) here is my take on this beautiful bit of poesy.


The writer is looking back (all of the verses, except the last, are in the past tense) on a failed relationship, and a failed life, wondering about the connection between the two. He examines the phases of the relationship and decides (in the last verse) that he has paid some kind of ultimate price for "loving not too wisely, but too well".

In verse one, he returns to the start: to Raglan Road on an autumn day. He remembers that he liked her hair. As he recalls, he "saw the danger" in pursuing her but decided to take the chance and give in to the possibility of love (the enchanted way). He maintains that he knew from the start (the dawning of the day) that this love had consequences and decided to pay no more attention to them than you would to the falling of a leaf in autumn.

He remembers that for the first few months they flirted with real love, and although they came close enough to see how beautiful it would be, they never quite fell; they merely "tripped lightly along the ledge. Her life went on unchanged (the job of "The Queen of (his) Hearts", after all, was tart making), while his love deepened. His life stopped in it's tracks, along with his work. He sees this imbalance in commitment as leading to the failure in this relationship and as the source of his sorrow and dissapointment in life.

In v.3 he remembers that he did his best to make it work. He offered her all the things that mattered most to him - his mind, his art, his music, his poetry - and got in return little more than her name and hairdo (it's what attracted him to begin with). She was as insubstantial as "clouds over fields of May".

Now, in his minds eye (where old ghosts meet), he sees her dumping him and taking off as fast as she could. He begins to think that the soulmate that he had imagined was, in reality, too shallow for him (a creature made of clay). And, as in the old stories of Gods and angels who pay with their immortality the price for loving a mere mortal, he has paid the price for his love. We are left to imagine what that price is.

Personally, I see this song as a bittersweet warning to all artists who face the choice between pursuing their art and pursuing a relationship; but that's just me. Still, if we had kept the band together, and if not for the kids. . .


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 07:48 PM

Derrymacash... I think you hit it right on. The angel is the embodiment of love in the lovers. The clay is the human earthly element that both must contend with, eventually... even when we wish it wouldn't apply.

I see his 'not making hay' as one of the crucial lines. Essentially, it means to me that he spent all his energy TRYING TO WOO, instead of being industrious and laying the foundations for a prosperous family life... Loving too much... AND NOT MAKING MONEY.

She can't face him, because she sees his attraction to her as a death wish in himself, a force so strong that he could simply give up his responsibilities for... and she probably didn't get into starvation and drinking the way he did...

I love this song! ttr


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 08:38 PM

And as Andy Stewart says about one of his sad love songs from the male perspective "her version is a bit more ecstatic"!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 07:57 AM

Thomas, I think Kavanagh was saying "Dam this for a lark, i`d be better off at home in my Monaghan Farm, making hay". And as for the "Queen of Hearts making tarts" that could well have been his mother. He after all was a down to earth small Farmer. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Gloredhel
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 07:02 PM

This is definitely some of the best verse ever set to music. Some songs have pretty lyrics which are terrible as poetry, but this is genuine genius and derserves the kind of analysis it's being given here. "The Queen of Hearts still making tarts" has always been one of my favorite lines from any song, mostly because it has meanings on so many levels. It does have that innocent, childlike connotation from the nursery rhyme, and also possibly the idea of prostitution, her being the "queen of his heart", and if the bakery girl story is true, there's another meaning. I beg you to remember, though, that poets often don't recognize the meaning of everything they say. A friend of mine is a decent poet, and sometimes I've known meanings of his phrases to be suggested to him which he didn't even notice until they were pointed out.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 10:05 PM

we sang it by committee at Camp Alexandra in B.C. this summer..Jill King and Sharon from San Francisco and me...it was a great rendition if I say so myself...Sharon has a pretty, high voice, and Jill King is in a league all of her own...a huge, deep voice..She is from New Zealand...mg


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Jenny
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 01:03 PM

A couple days late - Bartholomew you are a genius.

Everyone has offered up so much in this thread I couldn't help but comment on how enlightening it has been.

Anyone ever read "The Riders" (Winton)? His take on Raglan Road seems to match Bartholomew's.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHANCODUFF (Kavanagh)
From: GUEST, phylophisationer
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 01:23 AM

Ouch. My copy of The Green Fool is still on order (and I'm beginning to fear it may be too depressing to read.) In the meantime, I went looking for Kavanagh poems to read.

For those of you (us) who knew On Raglan Road as an isolated object, separated from the man or the environment, and pondered the writer's possible conceits, read this and weep:

SHANCODUFF

My black hills have never seen the sun rising,
Eternally they look north towards Armagh.
Lot's wife would not be salt if she had been
Incurious as my black hills that are happy
When dawn whitens Glassdrummond chapel.

My hills hoard the bright shillings of March
While the sun searches in every pocket.
They are my Alps and I have climbed the Matterhorn
With a sheaf of hay for three perishing calves

In the field under the Big Forth of Rocksavage.
The sleety winds fondle the rushy beards of Shancoduff
While the cattle-drovers sheltering in the Featherna Bush
Look up and say: "Who owns them hungry hills
That the water-hen and snipe must have forsaken?
A poet? Then by heavens he must be poor."
I hear and is my heart not badly shaken?

----------------------------------------------

"O the rich beauty of the weeds in the ditches. . . . "
-P. Kavanagh "Tarry Flynn"
Line Breaks
added.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 02:44 AM

Guest, It reads beautiful whatever way you put it. The district Patrick Kavanagh came from is a lovely part of Monaghan, I have been to it on many occasions, the Poet is always allowed licence. And you will find The Green Fool an excellent read, it has all of life in its pages. Don`t forget Tarry Flynn, regarded by many as a better book. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HOW COULD REAVY DIE! (Father Michael)
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 04:26 AM

And those who are charmed by Kavanagh's might also wish to purchase a collection of Ed Reavey's tunes. Reavey was born in Cavan (I think ... don't hold me to it ... it was that general direction anyhow) and his tunes are very evocative of the area.

Here's a link to just one page which gives further details about buying his tunes in musical notation and recorded format.

Click here

As a taster here is Father Michael's eulogy ...

HOW COULD REAVY DIE!
By Father Michael

The plumber of the hornpipes is dead.
The old diviner with the hazel bow,
That found the Shannon's source
And made its magic waters flow across the world.
"NO" she said "he's not dead,
How could Reavy die!"
And who are you to say!
"I am the Wind: The Wind
That drove the clouds in herds
Above the Cavan hills and Drexel too
And whispered to the oats in Barnagrove.
I am the breeze that kissed O'Carolan's face
With moisture on my lips
'Til notes danced within his mind
Like flames behind a blind.
I am the breath in Reavy's body
I used to whistle in his mouth
Merely oxygen upon arrival
But virgin music coming out.
He would hold me in the evenings
And we'd play within his soul
He tamed me with his reverence
But I always had to go . . .
So I bore him sounds of sweetness
Some were sad and some were glad
And he composed half a thousand tunes
About the happy time we had."
Hush! I whispered. Did you see his fiddle
On the altar - silent as a stone
And his body on the grave in Drexel Hill?
Clamped on the hole in a final salute
Like an old finger frozen on a flute.
Did you see the people in a circle
Standing sadly in the snow,
When the pipes refused to play in the cold?
"I was there" she said
I am the Breath of the earth.
Every mouth is a wisp of my prayer
Breathing blessings of incense on the bites of the air
Because life has the edge on the ice.
Listen my friend, to the lad with the whistle
With his finger tips timid and cold.
See the life that he brings to the old man's tune
And the leaks that he brings to the eyes.
See Reavy arise from the holes in the tin . .
And announce on his grave "I'm alive!"


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 05:54 AM

For a tour of the Patrick Kavanagh country and a summary of his work, http://swift.kerna.com Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 11:50 AM

Since this seems to be a discussion thread, let me put in my counter-appraisal, that the weakest line in the song seems to be "The Queen of Hearts still making tarts", and it is interesting that in the second poem, the most wishy washy Dylan Thomasy derived line "Lot's wife would not be salt if she had been incurious, etc." is subject to the same criticism: taking a well known image and doing the most obvious rephrasing. "Does the name Dick Whittington ring any bells?" Poetry should be made of sterner stuff....Nice song, can't complain too much. I go for the prostitutes-down-in-the-ravine-shagging-off-whoever-shows- up-condoms-littered-around-as-love's-pledge interpretation myself....

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 01:18 PM

It's very true, Peter T. I was avoiding that observation because I was talking too much as an interloper on the list. The Queen of Hearts line was like a large grain of sand I had to choke down to enjoy the rest of an otherwise fine meal. I was so pleased when someone put some possible meaning into it, up above, allowing it to go down more easily. I frequently wondered how a singer should approach that line: Should they belt it out with triumphant grandiosity, and then, should the audience respond with thunderous applause at the cartoon queen's industry?

For what it's worth, I had done my own phylophising (God, I love that word--someone should send it in to Miriam-Webster), to make it palatable: I thought that perhaps the line referenced the ongoing process of successful romantic liasons occurring all around the artist, while he was spinning his wheels, or perhaps that the assembly line was churning out all sorts of more appropriate choices for him, of which he failed to avail himself.

I admitted at the outset that I have no education in poetry, and so I have wondered what the cognoscenti say about the technique of which you complain. It can be an annoyance to be sure. Believe it or not, while I have found the analyzing and phylophising of this particular song rewarding in that I can now "own" the song in my mind (too bad I can't sing!), it's a process to which I usually won't dedicate much energy. I'm getting some extra benefits here by stealing some (maybe too many)insights into van morrison's lyrics (take me back to when I lived in Grace; I will never grow so old again); and he loves the technique.

Dan (Who once loved a precious dark haired girl from Monaghan, though I've never been there.)


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 03:56 PM

HEY Jenny, I finnished "The Riders" about a month ago... I found it so compelling that I didn't even go to work the day after I started it, but just read it through that whole day and completed it in it's wee hours. The book spoke to me, and because I had already been singing the "Raglan Road", it said even more than I could ever convey here... Ouch, what an experience! And to think I have lived it too... I mentioned the song in a couple of threads, and they could have caused this one to have been revitalised... who knows?
So, Jenny? did you like it too? I would love to hear a woman's perspective on the impact "The Riders" would have on Her...ttr


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST, Dan
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 04:24 PM

Mr. Ard: On amazon, ebay, and half.com, I can only find ONE copy of Tarry Flynn, for U.S.$75.00 (original list price 12.50.) You may have an investment in your attic...


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 04:45 PM

Dan, I bought this paperback copy of Tarry Flynn in 1975 for 75p . I have seen the two books on sale here [Ireland] for around £10.00. At that price Amazon must have Tarry Flynn in Kavanagh`s original handwriting. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 05:12 PM

Dan, I bought this paperback copy of Tarry Flynn in 1975 for 75p . I have seen the two books on sale here [Ireland] for around £10.00. At that price Amazon must have Tarry Flynn in Kavanagh`s original handwriting. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 05:38 PM

Well Homer nods sometimes, they say (and that's not a Simpsons reference.) And I think so did Peter T. just then. Which I suppose is a over ornate way of saying that I disagree with him. But implying that we don't need to square off in assault and defence, in the Mudcat fighting mode. Which wouldn't be fitting in a thread like this.

And thanks, derrymacash for putting into words the thought about that last verse that had been hovering around and I couldn't pin down.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 06:09 PM

McGrath ... you're welcome. Only a thought, mind. But being a curmudgeonly Ultonian bollix much like himself, I'm unlikely to see much bad in him!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 04:11 AM

I wonder if Kavanagh had subtitled the poem "Ode to a love affair that never happened" if it would be easier for people to understand. That the hint of bitterness in the poem is directed not at the dark-haired enchantress, but at himself for wasting so much time worshipping from afar and yet imagining himself involved in some relationship which never got off the ground? (The archetypal teenage crush experienced in later life by a man who - as I understand it - was unfulfilled in the romantic/sexual aspect of his life.)

Regarding the "Queen of Hearts" line.

I think this line is difficult to dismiss out of hand. It is undoubtedly more clumsy than many in the poem where Kavanagh's language is exquisitely economical.

As I read it he wanted to make a point about his "still making hay" and needed a point of comparison. The "Queen of Hearts still making tarts" is a metaphor for his object of desire idly carrying on as normal (i.e. ignoring (or being unaware of ) his ardour) while he is "still making hay" - industriously (albeit possibly secretly and - tragically - ultimately futilely) pursuing her.

So whilst I would agree that the line jars a little, I find the contrast startling and it's one of the "hinges" of the poem - a dawning of self-awareness and the key that moves him towards the cataclysmic realisation that there is nothing between them.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST, Dan
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 11:54 PM

No, I'm not trying to revive this thread. Just a short thank you to all of you while commemorating its re-internment. I've also reviewed a number of academic musings on the poem at various university websites, but nothing has been nearly as enlightening as your collective wisdom. Thanks, more than I can convey, for your patience and efforts.

I'll go back to lurking and surfing, until I feel compelled to start quoting Tarry Flynn (you poor buggers)(or I may need to lavish uncontrolled praise for Alison Krauss' performance October 26.)

Dan


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 03:48 AM

Why not refresh it!

As you've probably guessed, there are those of us who like nothing better than to have an oul' gaunch about Monaghan men, lachakoes from Cavan, dealin' men from Crossmaglen, etc!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 07:36 AM

"I still making hay"?? derrymacash

I've always heard it and sung it as "not making hay". Implying maybe that he's not getting on with things he ought to be getting on with. Which could either be wrtiting poems or the business of daily life, or maybe trying to get somewhere with the lady instead of thinking about it. Or maybe that he is in the city and he's really a countryman. Or all of them.

Or perhaps it is "still" after all. Or he used both words on different occasions, the way one might.

And the Queen of Hearts part of it also lends itself to multiple interpretations.

I can't see how a line which incorporates all those meanings can be described as anything but extremely economical. The only way I can see how that line can be desrcribed as clumsy is if internal rhymes ("Hearts/ tarts) are seen as unacceptable - and if that's so, much of the Irish tradition is out the window.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 08:29 AM

Well, ride me sideways!

Here's one the songs/poems that you think you know by heart until pulled up short. Yep ...I've misremembered it. (And therefore mis-sung it for years.)

Happily, although it alters the meaning of the line in the way you describe it doesn't alter the general thrust of the whole piece! (And works in its own way ...)

(Unlike the singer I heard once who sang "... tripped lightly ACROSS the ledge ...")

But I stand corrected and will mutter to myself for the next hour and half "NOT! NOT! NOT! ..."

Go raibh míle ...


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 08:33 AM

"Not making hay"...because he can't. Because he's a spirit.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 01:11 PM

Well, McGrath, thanks for the clarification of your criticism of my criticism. Always good. Makes me think -- as was said by someone else above -- about why the line jars. I think it is because it is in a different "register" of gesture towards meaning. To compare with someone later, Bob Dylan, Dylan has all these songs which have references to Romeo and Juliet, St. Francis, Popeye, whatever, in the same song, so the "register" of referred meaning remains the same, and a line reference like this one doesn't stand out. This is the only line in Raglan Road to me that seems to be from a different kind of poem than the others.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,philcave
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 11:59 AM

Having recently heard Joan Osborne's version of the song, I have become somewhat infatuated with it and take every opportunity to sing it, so I don't forget the elusive melody which is quite haunting. I think that the veiled, metaphorical quality of the lyrics makes it all the more intriguing, so maybe we shouldn't be looking too deeply for their meaning?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 12:24 PM

Peter T - my query was with what I took as an implication that the line about the Queen of Hearts was not economical.

As for the jarring, if there is that, which in a way there is, I think I'd argue it's justified because it seems to imply a down-to-earth quality about the woman, which points forward to the last line, where the angel does indeed get brought down to earth.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 12:33 PM

I suppose we could start off in a whole new direction by quoting (with phonetics for examination of the rhyme-scheme) and translating the song that every Irish schoolchild of Kavanagh's generation learned, which is the original of the tune, Fáinne Gheal an Lae (Bright Dawning of the Day), an aisling, as far as I remember. Of course Kavanagh was a great man for the spéirmná.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 03:43 PM

Just to point out that it wasn't me that brought in the remark about "economical"! I find it hard to imagine an ordinary listener (not knowing about bakers or whatever) considering a reference to the Queen of Hearts as being down to earth, rather the opposite -- a fantasy figure if anything.

Just to throw a sexist grenade into this, I have heard only 3 of the versions -- Joan Osborne, Sinead, and the Dubliners guy -- and while the ladies sang it more interestingly than the Dubliners guy, his seemed to me to be the most authentic because it is such a male song. I don't usually genderize songs, but this seems to me so full of male longing and illusion and arrogance that the women don't seem to me to be even close to its spirit (now runs for cover).

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 09:32 AM

Peter T, A wee bit of bloody respest for the late, great, folk singer Luke Kelly, his version was sung with great feeling. Some other guy further up this long thread referred to Van Morrison`s "singing" of the song as the best rendering, words fail me, this man shouldn`t be let within miles of a folk song, let him take his sore throat singing elsewhere. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 05:34 PM

But it probably got people listen to the song who otherwise wouldn't. Though it wasn't a patch on Luke Kelly, I grant you that.

I don't think there's anything exclusively male in the attitudes involved. "Male longing and illusion and arrogance" aren't necessarily that different from female longing and illusion and arrogance. Obviously its sung from the point of view of the rejected poet, and the singers got to be standing in those shoes, but if you changed the "hers" to "hims" and so forth, it could just as well have been a rejected woman poet telling the story, and it wouldn't be that different. (Well, even without changing the hers to hims for that matter...)


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 11:43 AM

Yeah, sorry about the Luke Kelly remark, I did like his the best, but I am interested you said that it was sung with great feeling -- didn't translate over the sound waves to me, it seemed to me to be all in the same tone. I sure agree on the Van Morrison one -- truly truly horrible, that fake let's make this verse real quiet and all that, pinched voice. (And I am a VM fan).

Could it be sung in the persona of a rejected woman poet, I wonder. Do they go about generating Galatea fantasies? I haven't known or read one who did.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 12:11 PM

Well it's not uncommon for women to put men on pedestals, or have fantasies about changing them into something they are not going to be changed into.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 01:59 PM

Yes but they don't do them both simultaneously -- the classic male strategy.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: dorareever
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 02:58 PM

What?! Van Morrison version horrible? Oh,Lord you are all folkies purists!!! Okay,anybody can have his opinion I suppose...I just like that version.I'm not A VM fan,usually he bores the hell out of me,but I like the way he sings folk songs.This site is wonderful,and all people posting seems kind and informed,but sometimes you go so on the "pretentious folkie" side that I feel bad.Sorry but I had to speak my mind.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 02:59 PM

Don't they just!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: MikeT
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 12:35 PM

To all you folk purists; I guess I am a little confused, I thought folk songs were songs that had no author as such, but were modified and changed by the 'folk process' over the years. At the risk of reopening this never ending debate, I am not sure if Raglan Road would even be considered a true 'folk' song, as it appears to have an author(unless I am missing something here). BTW I personally enjoy the Van Morrison song, as I do many of the other songs Van has written.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 01:42 PM

Purists, what purists? No one here but us garbage pickers....
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 10:05 PM

Songs don't write themselves you know. Even the ones that get changed and changed again started off somewhere. Most of the time we just don't know where.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road (NB!!!)d
From: GUEST,Niall Rooney (niall_rooney@yahoo.com)
Date: 31 Oct 01 - 11:30 AM

"AND I SAID LET.. GRIEF.... BE A FALLEN LEAF... AT THE DAWNING OF THE DAY"

So, finding himself at the dawn of day (the dawning of this relationship with Myriam), he compared grief to a fallen leaf. Now who worries about Autumn's fallen leaves at the onset of a pleasant summer's day?

This obviously refers to the fact that he consciously decided to act on his feelings for Myriam, despite realizing that he would ultimately be hurt.

At the dawning of his relationship with Myriam (the dawning of the day) he felt it convenient to class the unignorable "grief" that he knew would inevitably ensue, as the unavoidable remnants of the relationship that he nevertheless wanted to have(just as a fallen leaf is the unavoidable result of a pleasant summer's day)

Just like we feel that the very existence of a summer's day far outweighs the resulting fallen (dead) leaf, he similarly felt that the ensuing grief was not reason enough to decline the wonderful chance of happiness, albeit for a finite length of time.

Alternatively, he may have been saying: Ok, grief will ensue, but see it as a symbol of the joy it brought before it... like a fallen leaf.

In summary, he felt it covenient, while he was at the dawning of the day, to classify grief as something that would be found far later (at the closing of the day)... a time far enough away that he could ignore it for a while!

Indeed it is wise of Patrick Kavanagh to have stated that the sadness and grief that follows a break-up might better be viewed as existing only by virtue of the fact that extreme happiness and contentment preceded it.

I think though that Patrick Kavanagh recognised that his inevitable grief would be caused not only by the very fact that he was involved in a relationship with a girl but that he was involved in a relationship with this particular girl... a girl that Yeats might well have described as a "Maud Gonne"-ish type girl with "beauty like a tightened bow"

PS: I love Luke Kelly's version, raw and emtoive.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: shanty_steve
Date: 29 Nov 01 - 08:08 AM

A biography of Kavanagh, written by someone called Antoinette Quinn, has just been published. It spends an entire chapter giving the backround to this poem. Here's my summary ...

Basically, in 1945, Kavanagh became obsessed with a woman named Hilda Moriarty. He was in his forties, she was in her early twenties. He was a struggling journalist/poet, and she was a student in Trinity College in Dublin. She came from a well off family in Kerry. They seem to have struck up some kind of relationship, but perhaps not a romantic one from her point of view. She was certainly impressed with his poetry. The book makes the point that she made a big effort to help Kavanagh. For example, she used contacts to try to get work for him (without much success). She also tried to improve his personal hygiene problem (again without success)! Kavanagh's obsession with Hilda was so strong that he even took to following her when she was going out on dates with other men. At Christmas in 1945, he abandoned his normal routine of spending the holiday period with his ageing mother in Monaghan, and followed Hilda to her home town in Kerry. Ultimately, by the time Raglan Road (Dark hairded Myriam ...) was written in 1946, it had dawned on Kavanagh that nothing was going to come of the relationship. When the poem was first published, Kavanagh used the name (Myriam) of the girlfriend of a friend of his as an attempt to disguise the real object of his affections.

Apparently, Kavanagh's American published declined the poem on the basis that it contained some substandard lines in the last two verses. The writer of the biography agrees with this assessment, and states that Kavanagh wrote a number of superior poems about Hilda. In my opinion, some poetry really comes into its own when put to music. For example, the work of Cicely Fox Smith (which has been discussed elsewhere in the forum) was never very highly regarded until people started writing tunes to go along with her words. In the case of Raglan Road, it happens to have one of the best tunes in 'The Dawning of the Day'. Kavanagh can be given some credit here, as he wrote the poem specifically for this tune.

Regards, Stephen


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,chrisj
Date: 29 Nov 01 - 10:02 PM

Shanty Steve, please could you provide full title and publisher's name, etc, for the biography of Patrick Kavanagh by Antoinette Quinn?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 29 Nov 01 - 10:31 PM

Patrick Kavanagh A Biography Antoinette Quinn

Pub Gill and MacMillan November 2001 0 7171 2651 X Price €24.99/ 31.50 Hardback

Seamus Heaney has coupled Patrick Kavanagh (1904-67) with W.B. Yeats as the two most influential figures in twentieth century Irish poetry.

Kavanagh was born in Co. Monaghan, the son of a cobbler-cum-small farmer. He left school at thirteen but continued to educate himself, reading and writing poetry in his spare time. In 1929 he began contributing verses to the Irish Statesman and was soon publishing in Irish and English journals. His first collection, Ploughman and Other Poems, appeared in 1936 and was followed by an autobiography, The Green Fool, in 1938. In 1939 he moved to Dublin where he spent the rest of his life as a freelance writer.

He first emerged as an important literary voice with his long poem, The Great Hunger, in 1942. Other collections appeared in the following decade to growing critical acclaim. Kavanagh's work was his life, but he was also part of social and literary Dublin for almost thirty years in the company of a gifted generation of writers, among them Flann O'Brien and Brendan Behan. His position in the history of Irish poetry is secure. Antoinette Quinn's biography will be the standard life for many years to come.

Author Dr Antoinette Quinn teaches in the Modern English Department of Trinity College Dublin. A native of Iniskeen, Co. Monaghan - Kavanagh's birthplace - she is the author of Patrick Kavanagh: Born Again Romantic, the established critical work on the poet.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Jonny-boy
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 11:04 AM

The images drawn up to me by this poem/song have always been so powerful that they stun me. A depiction of the progression of time and place when a new passion unfolds with references to the seasons, earth and sky as time moves on is amazing and universally human. Love imagined, gained and lost with respect to those places and points in time is brilliant and real. A poet, dreamer and admirer, who blinded by the physical beauty of his infatuation, tries to super-impose his own intellectual meanderings on one who seems either unable or unwilling to grasp the depth of his passion ends up frustrated and alone....I think the last line is only sadness.....


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,ulysses
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 12:52 PM

There was once a great alto sax player - I won't give his secret away by naming him - who was widely praised for his sensitivity in showing the inner meaning of the ballads he played. After he died, his wife confessed that he could never remember lyrics and never knew what the songs he played were about.

Just sing the song.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 04:27 PM

Not knowing the words wouldn't necessarily mean he didn't understand what they were about. All depends what you mean by knowing a song. A lot of people sing songs, and are word perfect, without beginning to know them. I'm sure it works the other way too - people who can't remember a line, who know the song inside out


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 06:44 PM

And the dead arose and appeared to many ... (i.e. the sudden re-emergence of this thread).


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,no one important
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 09:56 PM

it's simply a song about "loss". The beauty in this poem/song is that the more that you read and the more that you analyze, the more you find that it just brings you back to the feelings that you felt when you first heard the song; when you knew nothing of what its "meaning" was. I understand the authors' motivations more clearly and I understand the historical setting/backround more clearly, but the emotion evoked was there before I knew any of this, and it is still there.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,no one important
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 10:23 PM

Sorry to continue on a long deceased thread. Sorry to chime in at all, in fact, but my fingers keep typing.

I look at a sculpture and I say "Wow, that is one stunning sculpture."

As I'm looking, I hear a historian explaining the significance of the subject, the history of the sculptor and a few interesting tidbits of information describing both the subject's and the sculptor's lives at the time that the piece was actually produced.

It's all extremely interesting and I'm very happy to have learned all of this, because it certainly does create an understanding, of certain aspects of the work, that I didn't have before.

But when it's all been said and done, I still look at the sculpture and say "Wow, that is one stunning sculpture."

The work speaks for itself.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 11:12 PM

My own interpretation of the "queen of hearts" and the "not making hay" lines is that they both reflect the idea of summer, and its symbolism possibly links them. In this bright warm season (of youth?) she is industriously at work, while he by contrast is not - though the sun is shining and the chance may not come again. This idea of passing time that is gone forever also finds resonance in the first line of the poem, which I BELIEVE (though I'm relying solely on memory so please only one person at a time shoot me down if I'm wrong)is that it's not on an "autumn" day but an AUGUST day (check a poetry anthology - songbooks can get it wrong too). If so, it changes the opening season (though in August summer is nearing its end) and the song then progresses through time to late autumn/early winter, as do his hopes. And finally there is no season evoked at all, only ghosts. This could also be an oblique reference to the difference in their ages.

I actually once met a lady (now dead) who had known Hilda, and I'm annoyed now with my younger self for not plying her with questions! All I can remember of our one conversation on the subject (years ago) was that Hilda was a very charismatic character and many people besides the poet were attracted to her. The poem beautifully captures that elusive quality.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,misophist
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 12:42 AM

To paraphrase another Irishman, W B Yeats, Poetry is never about what the author puts in, it's about what the reader takes out. If poetry were nothing more that saying exactly what you mean, in the most powerful language at hand, All of Churchill's better speeches would be taught in the Universities. The key to true is ambiguity, mood and mode. Precise understanding? Shit.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 09:15 AM

I think you are likely right about that Bonnie, though almost everyone seems to sing autumn - autumn goes more naturally with the fallen leaf, but logically, what'd he be doing making hay (or not making hay) in the autumn?

Dick Gaughan, I note, has it as August, and I think he'd have likely checked with the text. But a rapid trawl through Google seems to indicate that it's been recorded more often as autumn.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 10:24 AM

I don't think the August vs autumn thing is that big of a deal. We know what the poet is getting at--summer is spent, the prospect of youthful love gone, that sort of thing. I do get the sense that the leaves are about to fall, ie that the end is perceived as being near, not yet arrived. So August works better in that sense, because the poet has had an epiphany about the girl--realizes that he is not to win her. The place he is in is one of poignant resignation to the fact that there is no romantic relationship between them. He isn't looking back in bitterness (that would be a winter season), he is still in the warmth of some sort of relationship with her, but knows it won't go beyond the point it has reached.

I believe the "enchanted way" reference may be to the Grand Canal mentioned above, or to St Stephen's Green (Kavanaugh also mentions Grafton street). There is a strong sense of place in the poem, and that part of Dublin is the place. It is the most romantic part of the city really. Trinity is just north of the Grand Canal and Grafton Street ends at St Stephen's Green, and then as you walk through the green towards Leeson St, on the south end it empties out at least in the direction of the Grand Canal, where Kavanaugh's statue is found between Baggot and Leeson Sts.

This is sort of an aisling poem in English, but it also was written more as a song, than a poem. The angel reference would be a reference to the aisling, rather than the speirbhean, I think. Trifling difference to some, but not if you are trying to evoke the aisling convention. Speirbhean would be more of a political allusion, rather than a romantic literary one, in the Irish sense.

I do think the Queen of Hearts is a mawkishly sentimental throw away line. Kavanaugh, like every other poet, wasn't above or beyond a bad line here and there. It is a bit clumsy for the metre of the verse, I think. But he did well putting the verse to the tune, considering he was a much better poet than songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 11:45 AM

I can't see that, in association with tart-making, there's anything sentimental about the phrase Queen of Hearts. Forget the Princess Diana stuff which may gets in the way of the phrase for a lot of people these days. (And note it's not "queen of my heart" - making it "of hearts" has quite different associations.)

I know it's easy to use the term ironic to get away with anything, but in this context I definitely think there's an ironic tinge to it. Sardonic too. And that goes double for the last line, which I'd definitely read as having a self-mocking colouring.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 01:08 PM

I heard,from a friend who knew Kavanagh, that Deirdre Manifold claimed to have been the inspiration for the poem. But he knew a lot of women...

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 07:24 PM

BTW, the lovely Cantaria website has an MP3 of this by Donal Hegarty, and a lovely reference to this Raglan Road thread on Mudcat here:

http://www.chivalry.com/cantaria/lyrics/raglan-road.html


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 04 Feb 02 - 01:28 AM

Where I grew up, "making hay" meant you were getting somewhere", you were making progress. Conversely, not making hay, meant "getting nowhere", making no gain. I suspect that's what Kavanaugh intended. Nice to see this thread. I heard this song for the first time about a week ago and have been charmed by it.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Feb 02 - 06:05 AM

This thread is getting too long, so I've put in part 2, incorporating a bunch of recent posts to make continuity easier.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 02 - 08:12 AM

Actually, I hadn't thought of Princess Diana at all regarding Queen of Hearts. Must be an English thing. The "Queen of Hearts" reference is to the nursery rhyme poem attributed to (if I'm remembering my lit history right) Charles Lamb?

The "not making hay" reference which follows it, to me, means that the poet knows his love will always be unrequited.

There is the shift from August to November too, as if the poet can't decide whether to feel poignant or bitter. Which is a choice we all make when love doesn't go our way. That is what the poem is about to me. How the poet is going to live with the reality of his love being unrequited.

There are many layers of traditional Irish motifs to this unrequited love song--the age difference metaphor in August/November, and the difference in feelings being evoked by the seasonal metaphor of late summer to early winter.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Degsy
Date: 17 May 02 - 11:20 AM

Wowee this was a long thread. I came across it looking for something else (a luke kelly song) and I could not find any reference to the query in the original message "What does he mean by 'secret sign' that is known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone ?".

I always assumed he was referring to the Goban Saor. I was told by an uncle, who used to work in London in the 70s with masons from Northern Ireland (real stone masons that is)that the old masons used to have their own secret language that was passed along from mason to mason and they called it the goban saor. This might be rubbish but has anyone else heard of it. Incidentally, the Goban Saor is also a name give to the place in the Littleton bog in County Tipperary where the Derrynaflan Hoard was found.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 May 02 - 12:50 PM

As you said Degsy, ths is a very long thread, which is wy I started a part 2 for it, since a lot of people couldn't open one this length. If you posted there you'd be more likely to have people see it.

But I think you might do well to open a new one with Goban Saor. or something about Masons in the title. It sounds an interesting question.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,slainte
Date: 25 Jun 02 - 01:14 PM

The point was made that the end of this poem / song is a bit arrogant. I felt obliged to contradict this.

On the surface the last verse can be interpreted as the arrogance of an artist for unartistic people - he tried to woo with all his cultured skills, but failed because she was a heathen. However, I've a slightly different interpretation of the last verse.

In much of Kavangh's poetry, he talks about his farming background, which he abhors (read his poem Stony Grey Soil and you'll get the idea). I believe in Raglan Road when he talks of "a creature made of clay " he is referring to himself and not to the woman he loves.

He tried to woo "not as I should", he being "a creature made of clay" and the woman he tried to woo something much more than this - the references to "old ghosts", "the angel", "Queen of Hearts", and "the enchanted way" implying her being of the non-clay, mythical variety.

The last line of the poem, can be interpreted as the antithesis of his situation. For an angel to attempt to woo a human (clay), it would lose its most prized possession - its wings. He is not an angel (as some of this site's contributors have been more than happy to elaborate on), whereas he sees her as one. Because he tried to woo not of his kind (ie an angel), he must also face a great loss - a life of torment and anguish - the poor bugger.


This thread is closed
USE THE NEW THREAD, PLEASE!

Thanks.
Messages posted after this one will be moved or deleted.
-Joe Offer-


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