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Analysis of Raglan Road

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RAGLAN ROAD


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Seany 23 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM
zander (inactive) 23 Jan 01 - 09:50 AM
Wolfgang 23 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM
Pinetop Slim 23 Jan 01 - 10:15 AM
MartinRyan 23 Jan 01 - 10:18 AM
AndyG 23 Jan 01 - 10:52 AM
Jon W. 23 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM
Seany 23 Jan 01 - 12:22 PM
zander (inactive) 23 Jan 01 - 01:35 PM
Fergie 23 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM
Mark Cohen 23 Jan 01 - 08:17 PM
Jimmy C 24 Jan 01 - 12:18 AM
Lady McMoo 24 Jan 01 - 04:31 AM
mcpiper 24 Jan 01 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Fibula Mattock 24 Jan 01 - 06:49 AM
Seany 24 Jan 01 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,John Hill 24 Jan 01 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM
JedMarum 24 Jan 01 - 10:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,guinnesschik (blushing at the compliment) 24 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM
jonilog 24 Jan 01 - 11:20 AM
Noreen 24 Jan 01 - 12:11 PM
Margaret V 24 Jan 01 - 12:17 PM
pict 24 Jan 01 - 01:14 PM
Amergin 24 Jan 01 - 01:21 PM
Mark Cohen 24 Jan 01 - 05:54 PM
Mark Cohen 24 Jan 01 - 05:56 PM
Frank McGrath 24 Jan 01 - 06:58 PM
Jimmy C 24 Jan 01 - 07:04 PM
Murray MacLeod 24 Jan 01 - 07:31 PM
Mickey191 25 Jan 01 - 02:33 AM
Lady McMoo 25 Jan 01 - 04:43 AM
AndyG 25 Jan 01 - 07:03 AM
AndyG 25 Jan 01 - 07:05 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 01 - 07:52 AM
black walnut 25 Jan 01 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,jaze 25 Jan 01 - 10:30 AM
Murray MacLeod 25 Jan 01 - 06:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 01 - 06:51 PM
black walnut 25 Jan 01 - 06:57 PM
Fergie 25 Jan 01 - 08:23 PM
mcpiper 26 Jan 01 - 01:28 AM
black walnut 26 Jan 01 - 06:33 AM
rube1 26 Jan 01 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,visitor 24 Aug 01 - 04:34 PM
Coyote Breath 25 Aug 01 - 01:07 AM
ard mhacha 25 Aug 01 - 08:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Aug 01 - 09:16 AM
Peter T. 25 Aug 01 - 09:51 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: RAGLAN ROAD (Patrick Kavanagh)^^^
From: Seany
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM

I am trying to understand the poem Raglan Road by Patrick Kavanagh before I sing the song. I need to know the accepted interpretation of the following lines.(full lyrics included at end of message)

verse 1

"And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day"

Does he mean that although he suspects that things will go wrong he is going to forge onwards regardless because he is a slave to his passion?

Verse 2

what does he mean by 'of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge'? and why is the Queen of Hearts making tarts and why is he not making hay?

verse 3

What does he mean by 'secret sign' that is known to artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone?

lyrics below :-


RAGLAN ROAD
(Patrick Kavanagh)

On Raglan Road on an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might someday rue
I saw the danger
Yet I walked
Along the enchanted way
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day

On Grafton Street in November
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine
Where can be seen
The worth of passion's pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
And I not making hay
Oh I loved too much
And by such and such
Is happiness thrown away

I gave her gifts of the mind
I gave her the secret sign
That's known to the artists
Who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint, I did not stint,
I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair
Like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should
A creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose
His wings at the dawning of the day.^^^


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 09:50 AM

Don't analyse it, just sing it. Dave


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM

Sorry, Seany, I can't contribute from lack of knowledge but I want to say that I have often profited much from Mudcat discussion abotu song.

Dave (zander), I disagree. In some cases (not in all cases, I admit), knowing about the background of a song or knowing what it was about has even helped me to sing it slightly different in inflection, phrasing, tempo etc. For instance, since I have learned here, that 'Johnny I hardly knew you' was not an anti-war song, as I had wrongly presumed, but a spiteful song by a left lover, I haven't sung the song in the same way as before.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:15 AM

Way I heard the story, the song sets the story of Charles Stuart Parnell's affair with Kitty O'Shea to the tune of Dawning of the Day. If that's true, some of the symbolism might deal with the Irish-English politics of the late 1800s.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:18 AM

Click here for a start, Seany!

I'd sit on the fence between Dave and Wolfgang on this one. Certainly it often helps to understand a song if you want to deliver it convincingly - God knows I've heard more than enough cases of people singing Irish songs in ways that did no justice to the song, through apparent lack of understanding. On the other hand - its a two-way process. As you sing it and tease it out, you learn more about it. If the "analysis" becomes an end in itself, it kills the song just as efficiently as ignorance.

Regards

p.s. There are also, of course, some songs we sing just because we don't really understand them - we just try to preserve the mystery.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 10:52 AM

v1
I saw the danger Yet I walked Along the enchanted way
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf At the dawning of the day

v2
Deep ravine...
I've always thought of this as a sort of Lover's Leap reference but I don't know the geography refered to.
Queen of Hearts...
The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summers day. (nursery rhyme)
Make hay while the sun shines. (proverb)
er.. this is poetry, its job is to get large images into small sentences, I think.

v3
Ah, so you don't know the secret sign eh ? Then you can't be an artist who's "known the true gods of sound and stone" ;-)

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jon W.
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM

v1 - He knows he's going to be in for some heartbreak but the pain is inconsequential compared to the pleasure

v2 - The situation is precarious - he might fall off the edge at any minute. Time is passing in his frivolous pursuit of this woman.

v3 - He's sculpted, painted, and wrote poetry for this gal.

v4 - The affair is over now - it has ended as he knew all along it would. He has some regret that he has temporarily left the sublimity of pure art for worldly pleasures.

All this of course, is just my opinion of the song's meaning. What does it mean to you?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Seany
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 12:22 PM

Interesting reponse - thankyou.

V2. I think he is likening a male/female relationship to a deep ravine.

As he preceives the relationship in this light to begin with it is no wonder it fails (see also the predicted grief in v1)

He expects this woman to have the same feelings towards things as he does but she maybe doesn't respond in the right way. He really wants someone who preceives and feels exactly the same way as he does i.e. himself.

As a result the relationship fails.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 01:35 PM

I bow to Wolfgang, it really is better to understand what you are singing, apologies to Seany. Dave


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Fergie
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 07:46 PM

This song is about a women Kavanagh had a fling with, she worked in a bakery called Roberts hence the referance to baking tarts, he was a farmers son hence making hay,Raglan rd and the enchanted way are names of streets in the part of dublin where he lived at the time. The other referances are concerned with poetic vision, language and licence. in the end it finished badly for Kavanagh he felt gutted, betrayed and used, but it inspired him to write this beautiful poem/song to the air of of a very old Irish melody called 'Fainne geal an lae' which loosely translates as 'the dawning of the day'.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 23 Jan 01 - 08:17 PM

Well, I'll vote for Fergie on this one. Sounds absolutely right, given the song...and I suspect inside information. I just love the Mudcat!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jimmy C
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:18 AM

I will go along with a combination of JonW and Fergie.

Kavanagh knows the woman is not good for him but he throws caution to the wind and starts a relatonship anyway. I think perhaps she may have been a bit iof a hooker. The queens of Hearts I think refers to Dublin city and the tarts are the hookers in that area ?. The secret sign may have been some attempt by Kavanagh to educate this woman about some of the finer things in life. Later after the affair has ended he still sees her walking the streets. I guess only Kavanagh knows for sure, but it is an interesting exercise trying to read his mind.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 04:31 AM

When this poem was first published in 1946 it was entitled "Dark haired Myriam ran away".

I'd say therefore, like others above that the poem is about the poet's ill-fated love for a local girl. The "still making hay" reference is clearly a reference to Kavanagh's own country roots.

Kavanagh lived in Pembroke St., Dublin, close to Raglan Road, from 1946 (the date of the poem) until 1958 and then at 19 Raglan Road itself from 1958 to 1959.

Peace

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: mcpiper
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:17 AM

Just an aside from the poem, a wee story about the author himself.
A mate of mine, blues player Mike Brosnan told me his grandfather used to drink with Kavanagh, and reckoned Kavanagh told him he had only ever had one happy day in his life.
Sort of goes with the poem.
mcpiper


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Fibula Mattock
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:49 AM

Kavanagh was a grumpy old git apparently. It is alledged that he used to spit on the seat beside him on the bus so no one would sit there and disturb him. He lies in the "stony grey soil of Monaghan" in the graveyard at Iniskeen, where my grandfather and my uncle are also buried.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Seany
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 08:40 AM

Thanks everyone for your contributions,

I think he sounds a bit full of himself and arrogant but I can identify with the sentiments expressed in the song as I am guilty of being like that too.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,John Hill
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 09:17 AM

I've been trying to understand this song for ages.. reading through this has helped a lot.. thanks..
I don't agree at all with the person that suggested that it isn't necessary to understand a song to sing it. How can you sing a song with any conviction if you don't know what its about?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 09:57 AM

I have a thought on one troublesome line, as follows.

I have a recording of this by the Boys of the Lough, and it seems to go, "I sat like Grief be (which can mean "by" in an Irish dialect) a fallen leaf..."

In Europe in earlier decades it was very common for a grave to be decorated with a memorial statue or tablet featuring allegorical women named "Grief" or "Patience". These figures expressed the family's sense of loss.

(Have you ever heard the old simile, "...like Patience on a monument, staring at Grief?")

To finish, I think the line means that the poet sat silent and still a long time, as it happens, near a fallen leaf and at dawn.

Why is the line at the beginning of the poem rather than the end? It's because of the tyranny of rhymes and meter, that's why. --------- As for the poet feeling "gutted, betrayed and used..." (earlier thread), that's going rather far! She didn't get him started on heroine or turn his family into the Nazis, you know.

I have always thought that the poet's biggest problem is not rejection, but shame -- that he went too far, too hard, sexually. Perhaps nearly raped her. That's why she walks hurriedly away at the end, and that's the reason for the references to clay, etc.

Shame is a lot harder on us than sadness.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 10:34 AM

Our own Mudcatter, "guinesschik" does just a kick ass, bluegrass flavored version of this song. I'll point her to the thread so she can add her two cents!


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:04 AM

You certainly need to understand what a song or a poem is about. But this does not mean you always need to pin down the imagery - images are fluid, and ambiguous, and don't work like painting by numbers.

And the writer of a song or poem isn't necessarily the final authority, songs and poems can take on a meaning that might not have been in their mind at all, and that new meaning, given to it by the people who pick it up and pass it on is equally valid. Johnny I hardly knew ye is a case in point.

Fergie's comment about the lady having a job in a bakery in a bakery has the smack of truth about it, and if so it's a charming little touch for Patrick Kavanagh to have put in the reference - but that's only the beginning of the sense of the phrase, in the context.

It provides a hint of formality and majesty, maybe it suggests that it's all a game on her part, it suggests a down-to-earth practicality about her, with flour up to the elbows.

Again "I not making hay" simultaneously suggests that he knows he's wasting time on this, when he should be writing poems or whatever, and also that he is a long way from where he came from in the country, stuck in the city.

Put the two together, and he's a peasant and she's a queen, and it's a fairy story.

And so on and so forth. The images are multi-faceted.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,guinnesschik (blushing at the compliment)
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM

I've heard the song done many different ways, and I have to credit you guys with having a bit more insight into it than I do, but I'd also have to say that I believe them all to be true to a certain extent. I have always viewed "Raglan Road" as being bittersweet, full of longing and yearning, but with a dark twist. Ive always viewd it as somewhat of a Pygmalian (sp?) story, where the poet falls madly in love (or lust) with an uneducated type, tries to create her persona, and fails.

It is important to understand a song, in part, to sing it, but it's what you believe about the song that makes it yours.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: jonilog
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 11:20 AM

I have a songbook called " The Place in the Song " in which there is an article about the song written by someone called Benedict Kiely.He claimed that he was present the first time the song was sung.Kavanagh worked beside him in a newspaper office in Dublin .He states that Kavanagh wrote the song in the office and there was an impromptu performance by a quartet of those present at the time.He knew the woman in the song. To quote" But the point was that the historian and myself knew the lovely lady referred to in the song. She was in college with us. And by showing us the song the poet was most intimately , making his statement."


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:11 PM

I heard a discussion in a pub after this song was sung, wish I could remember all the details. But far from being a Pygmalion-type story, Kavanagh was indeed a drunken, 'grumpy old git' who knew that she was too good for him, and that's why there was no future in the relationship. She did indeed go on to better things, married well...

I'd love to hear more details.

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Margaret V
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 12:17 PM

Many thanks to all for these interesting perspectives on the song. Can anyone point me in the direction of early (say, 1950s) recordings of it? Thanks. Margaret


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: pict
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 01:14 PM

Give me Brendan Behan any day.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Amergin
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 01:21 PM

Personally, I have always felt that analysism (sp?) kills the joy and beauty of the poem.....I hated mine being analysed in my poetry classes, it just ruins the magic the words hold....


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 05:54 PM

Margaret, I'd check out Dick Gaughan's rendition. I think he does justice to the poetry. I think it's on "Coppers and Brass", but I'm often wrong.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 05:56 PM

By the way, a note to Joe or Max or whomever, I suggest this thread go into the "Classic Mudcat threads" collection, wherever that may be -- it's been wonderful following it.
Done.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Frank McGrath
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 06:58 PM

Just a quick note as I love Kavanagh and his poetry. They are specil to me.

As a very little boy we lived on Lower Baggott St. Dublin nor far from Raglan Road. We actually lived over a pub, and it was often frequented by Kavanagh and his peers of the time. I was too young to be allowed "downstairs" in the evening time when the pub would be busy but often, on the way home from school or when out for a walk I would see Patrick Kavanagh.

My father had pointed him out as someone special but it wasn't until many years later that I realised who this grumpy old man was. He always seemed so alone. I never rememer him in the company of others.

Later, when I began to have an interest in his writing and he was long dead I discovered that my childish instincts were very keen. He was a very lonely man and a very unhappy man. He loved women - but they did not love him. He had no social skills.

Raglan Road is a poem of unrequited love or even more accurately, hopeless infatuation. Kavanagh loved a lady who was another mans wife (a very prominent person too). He knew from the start that his love would not be returned but he couldn't help himself - he loved her from afar.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Jimmy C
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 07:04 PM

Frank,

Thanks fir that story. It's too bad you did not stop and speak to him, that would be something to remember. I guess I got it all wrong. Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 24 Jan 01 - 07:31 PM

I have always loved this poem, all except for the one couplet:
"When the angel woos the clay, He'll lose his wings at the dawn of the day"

That has always struck me as such a self-centered, dismissive sentiment, and in truth, it spoils the poem for me. A more generous soul would have wished the girl well, reaizing that they were not made for each other. ( Incidentally the bakery girl sounds much more likely than the married lady).

I have always suspected that Kavanagh had just such a personality as has been confirmed above. But despite that "Raglan Road" is still one of the most evocative and haunting songs ever written.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Mickey191
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 02:33 AM

It's funny how one can hear a song many times and it leaves no great impression. Then someone arranges it and gets a great singer & keyboard artist to bring new life and meaning to the material. Such is the case with Raglan Road sung by Joan Osborne. I play it 10 0r more times every day and am captive to its' beauty and pain. Love lost-is there any theme more haunting? If you have not heard Miss Osborne, Beg, borrow or buy "The Chieftains tears of stone."


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 04:43 AM

I'm a big Kavanagh fan...my personal favourite poem of his is "Pegasus". I've often heard that he was a grumpy type but he must have been burning inside.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:03 AM

re: "When the angel woos..."

I offer a different take on this addmittedly unfortunate phrasing.

Angel serves as a metaphor for artists generally (specifically the author) implying a "spiritual" viewpoint. Clay represents non-artists (materialists?), those people with a more "worldly" view.
Translation:
This is the choice that Kavanagh faces.

No more correct that any other reading of poetry, that's the beauty of poetry, but it's the way I've always understood the lyric and I was dumbstruck by the realisation that there was a more obvious and far more cruel interpretation.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: AndyG
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:05 AM

Bugger, missed a bracket !

re: "When the angel woos..."

Angel serves as a metaphor for artists generally (specifically the author) implying a "spiritual" viewpoint. Clay represents non-artists (materialists?), those people with a more "worldly" view.
Translation:
When the artist (angel) pursues material (clay) values he sacrifices the very attributes (wings) which define him.
This is the choice that Kavanagh faces.

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 07:52 AM

There's an ambiguity, probably intentional, in those last two lines.

I woo'd not as I should a creature made of clay

You can say that two ways - one way he's saying that he shouldn't have wooed her at all; and the other is that he wooed here in the wrong way.

The implication of the first meaning carries over into the final line, and it's effectively saying, if you play with fire you'll get burnt, so you shouldn't play with fire.

But with the second meaning it's more that he's recogbnising that for an angel (a poet) to woo a mortal means giving up the trappings and privileges of being an angel, and that's the way to do it. And there's regret that he didn't see that in time.

I suspect there's both meanings in it at the same time.

But one thing I think probably isn't there is the sense that being a creature of clay is a put-down, as of something unworthy or soiled - I'd see it as just meaning mortal, like anyone descended from Adam and Eve. (But maybe I'm wrong there, and that's another level of ambiguity in how he's feeling.)


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 09:40 AM

i love this song, and i love this thread...

there's a kind of madness to this song, the kind of lonesome insanity that you feel when you're sitting in the subway car analyzing everybody around you, and singing songs in your head, but feeling quite invisible and unwatched yourself. i love it that these not uncommon feelings of unrequited passion have been expressed in the kind of imagery that makes everything so seem so much bigger and more significant than it really is. long dark hair, angels, ravines, secret signs....it's brilliant! here's someone who didn't just feel the feelings intensely, but could really write about them.

~ black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 10:30 AM

Mickey191' I agree about Joan Osborne's version. I've only heard one or two other versions of this song, but NO ONE will ever be able to do it better. I too listen to it every day.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:38 PM

Mmm, y'all may be right about "the creature made of clay" meaning merely mortal, but it is still a fairly presumptuous metaphor, IMHO. My gut feeling however is that it WAS intended as a put-down, to salve his amour-propre. He tried to get her to play Eliza Doolittle to his Professor Higgins, and was she grateful? Not bloody likely !

It has just struck me that the only other song I know with such potent and vivid imagery is Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man", (and maybe "Love Minus Zero No Limit). Hope that isn't going from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Murray


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:51 PM

but it is still a fairly presumptuous metaphor,

If so the blame surely lies with whoever wrote the Book of Genesis? As I said, it's ambiguous, as people's feelings about these things often are ambiguous. Wounded pride or regret, you can sing it either way, and the listener can take it either way.

And either way, the lady in question gets immortalised.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 06:57 PM

i think the ending explains the whole; it's all been about a mortal and an immortal. it's the kind of relationship which could never be realized without severe consequences....

~ black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Fergie
Date: 25 Jan 01 - 08:23 PM

For me the definitive version of this song is by Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. What a voice, what feeling, what resonance. Brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: mcpiper
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 01:28 AM

What a great thread. For years I have listened to the song, read it to people a a poem, and spent a lot of time thinking about it. Now I have a clearer idea of what it's all about, not too far from what I had worked out.
The one line above all others I wish I had penned, for me, has to be
"On a quite street, where old ghosts meet."
I have never heard the song performed by anyone, good, bad, drunk, or whatever, when I didn't enjoy and look forward to the next line.
Keep up the brilliant threads and info.
mcpiper


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: black walnut
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 06:33 AM

the only time i didn't liked hearing this song was when i heard it performed quickly.

i keep wondering about that line, 'on a quiet street...'. Raglan Road and Grafton Street are named, and The Enchanted Way is alluded to as well, but this last street is unnamed. is it possible that this is verse is about what happens after death, or are the 'old ghosts' a reference to yet another specific location?

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: rube1
Date: 26 Jan 01 - 07:30 AM

While the original source of the myth/legend/story about the consequences of angels "literally" coupling with mortals is unknown to me, it does seem to be a theme rooted in Irish folklore. The metaphoric applications are infinite, as in this song, Raglan Road, where the final reference to the plight of a clay wooing angel elevates the singer's sorrow to an ethereal plane. I don't hear in it the singer referring to himself as an angel/artist. That would ruin it for me too if I heard it that way. To me, the angel reference is a bit of irony the singer takes for solace. I've only heard the Van Morrison/Chieftains version, but it made quite an impression. An interesting cinematic illustration of this theme is the movie "Gotham" w/ Tommy Lee Jones and Virginia Madsen.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: GUEST,visitor
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 04:34 PM

Pardon me, not a musician, poet, or artist of any kind, for imposing a post-script on this apparently long dead thread. I was drawn to this song by recent life developments, pulling it out of the deep recesses of my memory and looking up the lyrics on the web, which lead me here. You people provided me with a lot of insight and inspiration, so, a few points:

1. The extreme vulgarity of describing oneself as an angel and the ex as essentially a mud person struck me as a conceit that couldn't have been intended by the most arrogant of artists. I think I can provide a defense in mitigation of that concern: He didn't mean that he was an angel, but he did mean that his interests were in poetry and other art, and less in the material matters of this world. His important point was that he tried to interest her in the things he valued, but which were not her particular interests. He made an error and paid a heavier price than expected. When one's stated interest is in the ephemeral, rather than the material, it is a slippery slope to pretentiousness, but the truth was what it was.

2. When he said let grief be a fallen (or falling) leaf at the dawn of the day, he meant "No fear." "Just do it." Of that I am now quite certain. Instead of triumphing in his boast, however, he learned a painful lesson about the grief of love lost. No one can will it to be a mere fallen leaf (at the dawn of the day), it is more akin to an angel losing his wings (at the dawn of the day.)

3. The original disagreement about the merits of deciphering original intent versus taking the words as they are, and perhaps kneading them (with a bard's license) certainly has merit on both sides. However, the proponents of deciphering have some tangible proof of what can go haywire with a "just do it" approach: The recording by Sandy Durkin and her band members will not sit well with anyone who enjoys this song for emotional impact.

4. In the "no accounting for taste" department, I'll go out on a limb and discuss my preferred renditions: (I haven't had the privilege of hearing Marie O'Brien's recording yet.) As seems to be the unanimous agreement above, Joan Osborne's version (with the Chieftains) pretty much has to take top honors. However, there are other recordings, which, depending on both your mood and temperament, may suit the mood and win preference at any given time. Eleanor Shanley (Album?) Most notable among these is one by Eleanor Shanley. Of my "top four," hers is the only one made without the Chieftains in support. Roger Daltrey (An Irish Evening) It took me a long time to identify the singer, and I was most surprised to learn that it was none other than Roger Daltrey. This is one of the mre exercised versions and won't go over with many, I imagine, but I like it, and I've never liked the Who's music.) Van Morrison (Irish Heartbeat) I'm an extreme vanophile, so it wasn't easily that I had to give him fourth place honours. Sinnead O'Connor (Common Ground) I detested Sinnead's version at first, but, since hers is the most unadorned version, with no embellishment at all, it has grown on me quite comfortably. Mark Knopfler Mark Knopfler seems to be trying a Robbie Robertson imitation, but it sounds a bit more like Leonard Cohen with a few cups of coffee in him. No matter, one has to use one's voice characteristics as they can, I guess, and he doesn't do injury to the emotion. The song can handle a lot of variety in interpretation.

Anyway, thanks to you all. I'm not usually so wordy, but this has been a lot of fun. Vive mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 01:07 AM

Well, it is a lovely song in any case. For my part, it reminds me of my ex-wife. I find that I still love her and I feel that same bitter-sweet emotion that the song imparts. My favorite version is by Peter Rowan. The latest version I heard was on the Chieftan's album "Tears of Stone" by Joan Osborne but I felt the tempo was just a wee bit slower than needed.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: ard mhacha
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 08:40 AM

I Have just come on to this thread and I cannot believe that Patrick Kavanaghs two great books were not mentioned, Read TARRY FLYNN and The GREEN FOOL for an understanding of a brilliant writer and poet. Poor old Kavanagh had enough of the country yokel in him to be taken in by street wise Dublin city girls. He was a lonely man who had lingered too long on his Monaghan Farm and was never at ease with the urban way of life. The song surely spells this out without trying to phylophise every phrase. Slan Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 09:16 AM

I like hearing good songs on records, and on stages, and you learn a lot from that. But that isn't where they live. They live on the lips of ourselves and our friends when we sing them face to face.

Incidentally, for people who get hung up about these kind of things, I'd say this is a song that would work just as powerfully if all the "hers" were turned to "his", and so forth, sung from the stance of a woman poet. Does anyone ever do it that way?


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Subject: RE: Analysis of Raglan Road
From: Peter T.
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 09:51 AM

Hats off to this thread. What a fine conversation. yours, Peter T.


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