When I was young, I memorized a poem called "Ireland" that I found in my mother's old public speaking book. I think it was published in the early '30s. I recall most of the poem, except for a stray line or two. It was anonymous, found in a French railway station in 1928. It speaks of homesickness, loneliness, and 'no place like home.' I've looked for this poem in many places by title and first line. It appears to be truly a lost poem. Maybe someone here may have seen or heard of it?
I heard them praising this gray French country,
Dotted with red roofs, high and steep,
With one gray church tower keeping sentry
Over the quiet dead, asleep.
Gray rocks and grayer dunes.
Gray as duty.
Gray sands where gray gulls flew,
And I cried in my passionate heart,
'They know not beauty,
Beloved, who know not you.'
I heard them praising the gold of their stormy sunset,
The pale moon's path on the sea,
And I thought of your clouds
With their wild, magnificent onset,
Your eagles, screaming free.
All your broad lakes, your rivers calm and gracious,
Dear mountain glens I knew,
When the trumpet of judgement sounds
And the world's in ashes,
I shall remember you.
I thought of your mild, kind mountains
Quiet in dusk and dew
What flower of beauty that ever
In Paradise blossomed,
Love, was denied to you?
Land of my heart,
Smiling I heard their praises,
Smiling and sighing, too.
For I would give this whole gray French land,
For a handful of daisies,
Plucked from the heart of you.
~Anonymous, found in a French railway station in 1928>>
The lines I'm unclear on are something about 'where every little pool is the blue sky's brother, your wildlarks spring in the air.'
Interesting rhyme scheme. Looks like gray as duty is missing in this version:
Lots of gray in the poem. I wonder why it is a French land, yet named Ireland.
Hugh, thanks so much for your response to my query. However, the link you gave was to another post I made on the Kavanagh site, asking for information on this lost poem (and I forgot to add the 'gray as duty' line).
It does have a lot of gray in the first stanza. I love that; it establishes a rhythmn in itself. And an interesting rhyme scheme, as you said.
Since it was found in a French railway station, I feel it was written by an Irish man or woman who, for some reason, had to relocate away from his native land. He was comparing the two. Ireland definitely won out, in his estimation! He was not a bit happy about relocating. Ireland=good; France=bad. Ireland=beautiful; France=not so beautiful.
What intriques me is why didn't he/she sign it? Who picked it up, liked it, saved it, and submitted it for publication? It has to exist somewhere besides in my head. Did this phantom poet write anything else for publication?
I would dearly love to know the answers to this question, or at least find this poem published somewhere besides my mother's long lost public speaking book.
With St. Patrick's Day coming up soon, I'll be writing various places, asking about this poem. At least it's getting around, thanks to my queries, if nothing else!
Thanks again for your interest and help.
The Poetry Library is again doing 'lost quotations.' Perhaps someone there can help.