Thursday, February 09, 2006

246. Maureen Rua

This is a recycle of a previous post ... ages ago, lost in the mists of time .. but it's been on my mind for the last three days and I've rewritten a lot of the central part of it. I think it's because I've been listening to a lot of really good Irish music (the real stuff) thanks to Paddy & Bridget and their friends back in the County Clare and now I can see where it wasn't quite on the button the first time around. No guarantees it's "on the button" this time either, but it feels and reads better ...........

The character is a composite of several well-known beauties who lived on into the 1920s and 30s, women who had been much celebrated in story and song among country people during the latter part of the 19th century.

Them lands beyond
belong to strangers now,
says Maureen Rua
bringing the tea
over to the table,
the large pot in her
withered shaking hands,
and herself getting on
to a rare old age
now that Dinty's gone,
but with the scraps
of her wild red hair
still showing, and her eyes
undimmed: they had made her
the belle of five counties
back in the days
when the world was young.

Maureen Rua!
Some farmer's sons
fell close to self-destruction
for the love of you,
but they recovered
the run of themselves
after many stout blows
from the sticks of their fathers,
and through the blessings
of Holy Mother Church,
and through the less blessed
but far more fascinating
smiles and enticements
of the local sweet colleens.

There was the land
and she with no brothers.
It was the land, they said,
but it was never just the land:
it was you, Maureen Rua,
that had them so bedazzled,
you, with your sparkling eyes,
your soft full figure,
your tumbling, tangling
wild red hair.

O Maureen Rua
how my heart goes out to you
with the song of the lark
in the clear morning air,
and in the bee-buzzing afternoon
my same heart stumbles,
then lazily lingers
with sweet honey thoughts;
and in the evening, yes,
I sing along, softly,
with the shy nightingales.

All for you, Maureen Rua.

You are old now, a widow,
saddened and past innocence,
awaiting your final repose;
but you are still the finest
among the "m'nah nuh Hay-rinn",
champing on your false teeth
and not so sure of your gamy legs,
as you bring the tea this very minute
with uncertain steps
here to the table.

Ah, Maureen Rua,
Maureen Rua!
The finest woman
in God's creation!

* mnaa na hEireann - (Gaeilge) the Women of Ireland. They actually run our country right now from the President on down -- perhaps not such a bad thing .