Eileen Shanahan: Irish Woman Poet

Eileen Shanahan (1901-1979) was born in Dublin. She worked as a secretary at the League of Nations in Geneva from 1929 until the invasion of France in 1940.  Although she published widely in magazines and anthologies, she never published a collection of her poems during her lifetime and her work remains uncollected. The Three Children is her best-known poem.

The Three Children (Near Clonmel)

 

I met three children on the road —
The hawthorn trees were sweet with rain
The hills had drawn their white blinds down —
Three children on the road from town.

Their wealthy eyes in splendour mocked
Their faded rags and bare wet feet,
The King had sent his daughters out
To play at peasants in the street.

I could not see the palace walls;
The avenues were dumb with mist;
Perhaps a queen would watch and weep
For lips that she had borne and kissed —

And lost about the lonely world,
With treasury of hair and eye
The tigers of the world would spring,
The merchants of the world would buy.

And one will sell her eyes for gold,
And one will barter them for bread,
And one will watch their glory fade
Beside the looking-glass unwed.

A hundred years will softly pass,
Yet on the Tipperary hills
The shadows of a king and queen
Will darken on the daffodils.

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