Saturday, March 17, 2018

Eileen Shanahan and The Three Children (Near Clonmel)

photo © Mark Butkus 2012
An Irish poet for an Irish day.

I met three children on the road —
The hawthorn trees were sweet with rain
The hills had drawn their white blinds down —
Three children on the road from town.

Their wealthy eyes in splendour mocked
Their faded rags and bare wet feet,
The King had sent his daughters out
To play at peasants in the street.

I could not see the palace walls;
The avenues were dumb with mist;
Perhaps a queen would watch and weep
For lips that she had borne and kissed —

And lost about the lonely world,
With treasury of hair and eye
The tigers of the world would spring,
The merchants of the world would buy.

And one will sell her eyes for gold,
And one will barter them for bread,
And one will watch their glory fade
Beside the looking-glass unwed.

A hundred years will softly pass,
Yet on the Tipperary hills
The shadows of a king and queen
Will darken on the daffodils.


— Eileen Shanahan


Born in Dublin, Ireland Eileen Shanahan (1901-1979) had approximately a dozen of her poems published in magazines and anthologies including The Three Children (Near Clonmel), which was first published in the American magazine, The Atlantic Monthly in 1929.

Shanahan never published a collection of poetry during her lifetime and curiously, her output of more than 70 poems remains uncollected almost 40 years after her death. On St. Patrick's Day we remember Eileen Shanahan and her poetry.