This week in my weekly top Irish poem it is number 81 called “A Cradle Song” by Padraic Colum.
O men from the fields,Come gently within.Tread softly, softlyO men coming in!Mavourneen is goingFrom me and from you,Where Mary will fold himWith mantle of blue!From reek of the smokeAnd cold of the floorAnd the peering of thingsAcross the half-door.O men of the fields,Soft, softly come thro’Mary puts round himHer mantle of blue.
Padric Colum is an Irish poet, dramatist, folklorist and children’s writer, born in Longford County under the name Patrick Colum.
He was one of the founders of The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and worked with Yeats and Lady Gregory. In 1914 he and his wife Mary left Ireland for America, soon entering New York literary circles.
He has also written a series of books including a play The Land (1905), Wild Earth (1907), The King of Ireland’s Son (1916) a story for children, Dramatic legends (1922), Castle Conquer (1923) (his first novel) and Irish Elegies (1958).
There are many opinions on what the meaning of this poem is. In some respects, people believe the poem/song to be about child mortality in rural Ireland last century, and how the firm faith held by the Irish helped them to cope with the loss of their child.
While others believe that Mary’s “mantle of blue” is simply because the Virgin Mary has, since time immemorial, been associated with the colour blue (as can be seen in practically every artistic depiction of her from every Christian denomination down the centuries).
A simple explanation of the poem is it is about a newborn baby and people returning from a day of work to come and see the baby.
What do you think this famous Irish poem represents? Comment below.
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