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Tue Feb 2, 2016, 03:11 PM

An Elegy for Martin O’Malley

The former Maryland governor’s love of Irish poetry provides a fitting send off to his candidacy.

There was one other thing that made O’Malley stand out: his enduring, and endearing, love of Irish poetry.

O’Malley doesn’t just carry around the latest award-winning collection. He spouts obscure lines off the cuff. In 2011, O’Malley told The Irish Times that the Irish poet John O’Donohue was his current favorite. He kept a copy of O’Donohue’s “A Blessing for Leaders” (“When the way is flat and dull in times of grey endurance, / May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.”) under the glass on his desk at the governor’s office and quoted O’Donohue frequently. In May, he quoted the contemporary poet Seamus Deane on unemployment and violence to George Stephanopoulos. And here he is reciting Eavan Boland’s 1986 poem “The Emigrant Irish” last July to a crowd of Iowa picnickers. O’Malley knows the poem by heart, though he changed a Boland’s “dusk” to “dawn”—probably an innocent mistake, though it’s an appropriately sunny tweak for a politician.

In November, a Rolling Stone reporter found him quoting Padraic Pearse off the cuff in New Hampshire:

The next day, O’Malley begins his morning with a town-hall meeting at Wayfarer Coffee Roaster, a coffee shop in Laconia. (After leaving, he excitedly mentions “The Wayfarer” is one of his favorite poems by writer and Irish revolutionary Padraic Pearse. He clears his throat and recites the first lines: “The beauty of the world hath made me sad/This beauty that will pass.”)
Pearse, like O’Malley, was better known for his political activity than poetry. He was a leader of the notorious “Easter Rising” rebellion in 1916: a revolt that technically failed, but still managed to inspire. Pearse wrote “The Wayfarer,” one of his best-known works, on the eve of his execution at age 36. Somehow it seems a fitting bit of verse to send O’Malley off with:

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,

This beauty that will pass;

Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy

To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,

Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,

Or little rabbits in a field at evening,

Lit by a slanting sun,

Or some green hill where shadows drifted by

Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown

And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;

Or children with bare feet upon the sands

Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets

Of little towns in Connacht,

Things young and happy.

And then my heart hath told me:

These will pass,

Will pass and change, will die and be no more,

Things bright and green, things young and happy;

And I have gone upon my way


A bit maudlin for the moment, perhaps. O’Malley is merely going home to Maryland, not to the firing squad. But it seems fair to suspect that a true fan of Irish poetry doesn’t object to a little sentimentality now and again.'


OK, now I've done it.

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Reply An Elegy for Martin O’Malley (Original post)
elleng Feb 2016 OP
guillaumeb Feb 2016 #1
elleng Feb 2016 #2
MH1 Feb 2016 #5
elleng Feb 2016 #6
rpannier Feb 2016 #3
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one_voice Feb 2016 #4

Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 03:15 PM

1. What I liked about O'Malley was that his position papers showed actual substance, rather than

illusion and rhetoric. There may not be a lot of enthusiasm for substance, illusion is easier to cover, but O'Malley should at least be in the next Democratic administration.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 03:33 PM

2. He's the ONLY one who does substance in this way, guill,

and I'm concerned that we won't see anything like it again.

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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 09:57 PM

5. Me too. Substance was not exactly rewarded by the masses.

(I'm still cranky about the whole Iowa thing. Grr....)

Thank you, elleng, for all your efforts to inform DU about Martin O'Malley. I really appreciate all your hard work.

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Response to MH1 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 10:01 PM

6. Thanks, MH1.

Substance not rewarded by ANYONE. Grr ....)

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 08:05 PM

3. True that he's not dying or dead

But it doesn't mean we still aren't sad he's gone (from the primaries)
Styled trumped Substance

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Feb 2, 2016, 09:17 PM

4. .

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