I was hoping to pick number 17 on the top 100 Irish poems list this week. It is mainly because it is St Patrick’s day, but I realised I had already published it in August 2021! So this week, I went with number 20 from the top 100 list—another appearance of the great Padraic Pearse.
What is the “The Wayfarer” all about?
Pearse talks about the fleeting of life and how quickly it all goes by. It’s both a joyful and sorrowful poem, and I would also say very emotional. It also starts quite positive and speaks about the joy of life, only to do a complete flip at the end of the poem and end in sadness.
But as they say, all good things have to come to an end. It was written on the eve of his execution at Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin (May 2, 1916). To have such composure the day before his execution demonstrates Pearse’s brilliance.
Enjoy this powerful and emotional Irish poem.
The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way
What did you think about this poem?
Comment below. I found it a grim reminder about life and how we should appreciate the moments we can.