Padraic Colum’s “A Connachtman” consists of nine ballad quatrains in which the lyric persona, an old singer from the west of Ireland, imagines his own wake. In a song full of pity and sadness, as well as humor, he views death, on one hand as a mythic continuum of past, present, and future and, on the other, as an irretrievable closure of life. Death makes him look back to his past and remember the numerous joys of life he has shared with his friends. Also, his wake helps him realize that the account of his travels and exploits, retold by the old and admired by the young, has given his life the aura of a Celtic bard. It is this mythic quality that makes it possible for the lyric persona to reunite with the land and its ancient spirit. Yet, together with emphasizing the importance of tradition as a repository of racial identity, the ballad draws the reader’s attention to the idea that death severs humanity’s direct connection with nature and the simple pleasures and beauty of life.
In the opening stanza of the ballad the old peasant singer presents to the reader, in a rather humorous way, his greatest “fear”: a large and noisy wake at which “hundreds” of people come to show their respect. Considering himself modest and insignificant, he remembers, in the second and third stanzas of the ballad, his past travels in the rural, and, thus, most authentic, Irish provinces of Connacht and Munster. A friend of many “good men,” he lets no one...
(The entire section is 541 words.)