The third of Clarke’s poems, The Planter’s Daughter, can also be interpreted as having a contemporary theme. In this light, Clarke seeks a solution to the division between Unionist and Nationalist, resulted from the newly formed states of
The Blackbird of Derrycairn
The poem is a loose translation of an 18th Century ossianic lay written in the Fiannaíocht tradition in the form of the "dán díreach". The original poem was titled "Lón Doire an Chairn". Clarke's poem adapts the original to satisfy his purpose, as The Lost Heifer, there is a contemporary meaning to the poem. It is a criticism of a priest-ridden
In stanza's two and three, the poet paints magnificent scenes of Fiannaíocht life, which shows an
In stanza four, the image of Christianity is of "little cells behind a Cashel, where no handbell has a glad sound". The suggestion here is that the monastic way of life is unnatural and in order for it to survive it must be protected from the outside world.
The Lost Heifer
This poem was published in 1936 and is Clarke's own words "In the mode of the Jacobite songs". The lines were written in a period when our national idealism suffered eclipse. The heifer or silk of the kime is a secret name used by the Jacobite poets for
In this poem Clarke writes about
In the opening line he refers to "black herds", the blackness symbolises unhappiness but also they typify the native Irish breed of cattle, they are described as herds of the rain in keeping with the ancient symbol of the rain cow. The rain is also important in that it restricts visibility and suggests that the light of freedom is furthest away. The herds "were grazing in the gap of the pure cold wind" a suggesting a change in the weather, an easing in the rain - a possibility of freedom (1916 Rising). The scene here is suggestive of herds of cattle grazing on a mountain side - a typically native image. In line 3 Clarke uses another ancient symbol for
There is a momentary note of optimism at the beginning of the second stanza. "Brightness was drenching through the branches" - the opaque film of the watery hazes has lifted to reveal Nationalist Ireland in its reality. However this was but a fleeting image, that short period between the end of British dominance and the beginning of the Civil War - "When she wandered again". In lines 9 and 10, Clarke uses the imagery of Irish bogland to portray his renewed sense of pessimism. He speaks of dark grasses and the uninhabitable nest of the sky lark represents a void which symbolises the effect of the Civil War. He pictures the heifer wandering through the bogland as turning the silver out of the dark grasses. This image involves the reflection created by the sun in the rain covered grasses, as the blades of the grass are moved by the heifer's legs. The suggestion here is that the heifer represents an ideal of Nationalism, that if allowed to flourish would encourage a greater response. The fact that the silver is there shows Nationalism is being down trodden and needs a catalyst to help it escape from the darkness of oppression. The poem concludes on a note of pessimism - "Was the mist becoming rain". The heifer has wandered further into the distance, the Civil War is becoming comparable to English rule and its detrimental effect on Nationalism.