poem index


Anthony Raftery

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Anthony Raftery, also known as Antoine O’Raifteiri, was born in Killedan, Ireland, in 1779. Blinded by a bout of smallpox as a child, he followed an oral tradition and is often considered the last wandering bard. Although none of his poetry was published during his lifetime, several of his literary acquaintances (including Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland, and Lady Gregory, a pivotal figure in the Irish Literary Revival) ensured that his oral poems survived in print. He died in 1835 and is buried in County Galway’s Cemetery of the Poets.

by this poet

I am Raftery the poet
Full of hope and love
With no light in my eyes
With gentleness that has no misery

Going west upon my pilgrimage
By the light of my heart
Though feeble and tired
To the end of my rove.

Behold me now
With my back to the wall
Playing music
Unto empty pockets.