FAR hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,
Crouching over a grave, an ancient, sorrowful mother,
Once a queen—now lean and tatter’d, seated on the ground,
Her old white hair drooping dishevel’d round her shoulders;
At her feet fallen an unused royal harp,
Long silent—she too long silent—mourning her shrouded hope and heir;
Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow, because most full of love.

Yet a word, ancient mother;
You need crouch there no longer or the cold ground, with forehead between your knees;
O you need not sit there, veil’d in your old white hair, so dishevel’d;
For know you, the one you mourn is not in that grave;
It was an illusion—the heir, the son you love, was not really dead;
The Lord is not dead—he is risen again, young and strong, in another country;
Even while you wept there by your fallen harp, by the grave,
What you wept for, was translated, pass’d from the grave,
The winds favor’d, and the sea sail’d it,
And now with rosy and new blood,
Moves to-day in a new country.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem Old Ireland.


  1. Allison Miller says:

    This is a fantastic poem and beautifully expresses the history of Ireland. It truly enlightens this beautiful country.

  2. Dena says:

    This text has the imagery of the dying Ireland during the time of the Great Famine (1845-1850), one of the greatest human disasters in the last century, and its subsequent rebirth in the New World.

  3. Caterina says:

    THis poem speaks the truth about the Lord and everything, it’s an awesome poem!!!!

  4. stefjay says:

    i think it’s more about the country of Ireland and it’s “progress” from independent to british to independent again… i’m terrible with history, but having lived in ireland i think whitman’s view of the nation still applies, it is a place that maintains life – cultural and historical life, that is – even when it seems it has died. interesting…

  5. tillietee says:

    I’m not sure about this at all. Is the poet speaking of a son who has migrated to America or is it deeper than that? is he suggesting that when we die we leave one form only to take another somewhere else. That life goes on through the earth and sky….I would be more comfortable with that…but then i am a mother.

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