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Colum, Padraic

Irish-born American poet whose lyrics capture the traditions and folklore of rural Ireland.

Padraic Colum was born in Longford Workhouse in 1881, where his father was Master. The family were abandoned by his father who left for the goldfields of Colorado, and Padraic was reared in North Longford where he became familiar with Granard, Colmcille, Bunlahy and Molly, place names which later occur in his literary output. In the final years of his life Colum stated 'I have always tried to use the speech of the people of Longford in my work', - the idiom he had learned at the poultry fairs in north Longford which he visited during his youth

Influenced by the literary activity of the Celtic revival centred in Dublin at the turn of the century, Colum published the collection of poetry Wild Earth (1907). He co-founded The Irish Review in 1911, then three years later settled permanently in the United States. Colum's varied literary output includes volumes of poetry, e.g., Dramatic Legends (1922) and Creatures (1927); plays, such as Broken Soil (first performed 1903); novels; anthologies of folklore; and children's books. The reminiscence Our Friend James Joyce (1959) was written with his wife Mary (1887?-1957), a well-known literary critic.

Further Information

Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house - a house of my own
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.