Padraic Colum wrote a poem The Old Woman Of The Roads, “Oh to have a little house, to own the hearth and stool and all” and so on, its lovely. Simple. The best he ever wrote.
It was read out to us in school and I a boy of nine or ten, the teacher was very pleased with himself. I put up my hand. “Brother, can I say something? When I walk to school along Eden road just past the railway bridge is a small house with a plaque on it saying Padraic Colum lived here”. The teacher looked at me with tolerant amusement.
“Why did you tell us that?” he asked. “I thought you might be interested because he wrote that poem. He lived near this school.”
I did not say so Padraic Colum existed and maybe one or some of the other boys might be interested. It appeared to be a rule that teachers were never spoken to on a basis of equality. The temerity of it!
The teacher apparently thought I was some sort of blithering idiot. Not to be spoken to as if we shared a common interest in the poem and its maker. That would never do.
He may have said “Is that all you have to say to us?” Condescension is perhaps not the best word to describe his attitude.
Now, royalty. Years later I spoke with a couple in a hotel telling them I write poetry, not the sort of stuff you see in books now that no one reads. “Big words!” said the woman.
I said I like poems we heard at school like that one by Padraic Colum, Oh To Have A Little House. I said the first two lines and the woman recited it complete.
The barman was standing by. I said that’s about an old woman who has no house and wishes she had one. It’s the queen’s favourite poem, she often recites it.
“Nice one David” said the barman.
20th June, 2017