The Emigrant Irish (Favorite Poem Project)


My name’s
Steve Murphy, I live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. I’m 34 years
old and I’m a financial consultant and
independent contractor. As a financial
consultant, I work with mainly small
companies and start-ups that need help in
the financial areas. Two years ago, I quit
my full-time job. I was working for a large
multinational at that point, but I took
the time off, but to become an
independent contractor so I’d also
have time to write. I’ve been working on some
fiction projects right now, I’m working
on a novel, I’ve worked on
some short stories. Nothing published yet but it’s just, it’s something that I’ve wanted
to do for about 10 years and after working seven-day
weeks and 24-hour days, I decided it was
about time to do it. I’m really not
a poetry buff, I don’t read a
lot of poetry. When I have,
I’ve got to admit, a lot of it has struck
me as strange or complex, just… it really hasn’t
done much for me. And it’s particularly painful for my
mother who’s an English teacher and actually
teaches poetry, so… but this poem, my parents actually had
on the wall in their home in Connecticut. And I’d read it
a couple of times and it really hadn’t done anything for me
that any other poems have done either. And then a couple years ago, my brother
and his wife had their first son, Keenan. And he was
diagnosed with a genetic disorder called
spinal muscular atrophy. It’s a fatal disorder.
It’s not treatable. Kills most of the kids by their first birthday
and all of them pretty soon after that. And I don’t know in the middle of everything that was going
on with my nephew. I read it
again and I, something about it
just struck me. I mean it’s hard to understand
why babies have to die so I think you look for support
wherever you can find it. For me, it was my
family, my friends, God. And the poem for
a couple of minutes. I carry the poem
in my wallet. I just, I typed it up on a piece of
paper and it’s on one side the is on the other. And I put it there, I don’t
know, just to remind me. It’s… it’s… I mean, I’m not going
to pull you the… The poem doesn’t
make it all better. I mean, like, my nephew’s gone
and it’s not gonna make it better for him, it’s not gonna make it better
for my niece who has the same disease, but for a moment though,
the poem really did make it better. It really did. And you know, that’s a
pretty amazing thing. “The Emigrant Irish” by Eavan Boland Like oil lamps, we put them out the back — / of our houses, of our minds. We had lights /
better than, newer than and then / a time came, this time and now /
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example: / they would have thrived on our necessities. /
What they survived we could not even live. / By their lights now it is time to /
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with, / their possessions may become our power: /
Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them. / Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering /
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World. / And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

3 thoughts on “The Emigrant Irish (Favorite Poem Project)

  1. (The Emigrant Irish, cont.)

    they would have thrived on our necessities.
    What they survived we could not even live.
    By their lights now it is time to
    imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
    that their possessions may become our power:
    Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
    Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
    in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

    And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

  2. The Emigrant Irish

    by Eavan Boland
    Like oil lamps, we put them out the back —

    of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
    better than, newer than and then

    a time came, this time and now
    we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

    t
    (continued next post below)

  3. Could you evolve this piece. What did the poem mean to you? My condolences for your loss. I wish you continued bravery in your life

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