Even if you've never set foot on the Emerald Isle, you can still join the millions of people worldwide who'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Day on March 17. You'll be seeing lots of shamrock and leprechaun-themed images and memes on your friends' and family members' feeds, so how about honoring the day by posting an Irish-themed poem for St. Patrick's Day on your Instagram page? It'll show your artistic side and your Irish heart at the same time.
Much of the mythology surrounding St. Patrick himself is just that — myth, according to Ireland Rising. For instance, the whole business about his driving the snakes out of Ireland is pure fantasy; the serpents were never there to begin with. (The Irish Sea would have made it impossible for them to migrate from England.) It's also unlikely that he used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans, or that he created the Celtic cross design to make Christianity appealing to the unbelievers. But that doesn't cancel out the fact that the good man is still the patron saint of Ireland, and we've been celebrating him in the US since 1762, as the Old Farmer's Almanac reminded us. Why break with tradition now?
If you're like many folks, you'll be celebrating this Sunday by wearing green, perhaps attending a parade, dining on corned beef and cabbage, and hoisting a beer (green-tinted, if you must). But it would be even more appropriate to acknowledge Ireland's long history of fine poetry, from lyrical blessings to classic works by William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Oscar Wilde, and other gifted Irish writers. Try one of these on your Insta feed, or do a quick browse and find a poem that speaks to you. Either way, St. Patrick would surely be glad that you're using his day for something other than wearing a leprechaun hat.
1. "The Lake Isle Of Innisfree"
William Butler Yeats' famous poem could make even the most devoted city-dweller long for The Quiet Man life of the Irish countryside. You could post the whole poem (beginning "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree"), or just the second stanza: "And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,/Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;/There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow/And evening full of the linnet's wings."
2. Irish Parting
This poetic verse, whose author is unknown, is the most famous Irish blessing, according to Irish Central. Bet you know it, too: "May the road rise up to meet you./May the wind be always at your back./May the sun shine warm upon your face;/the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again,/May God hold you in the palm of His hand."
3. I'll Wear A Shamrock
This cute St. Patrick's Day poem by Mary Carolyn Davies is quoted in The Holiday Spot website. The final stanza is especially Instagrammable: "I'll wear a four-leaf shamrock/In my coat, the glad day through/For my father and mother are Irish/And I am Irish too!"
4. May You Always Have Work
Is it any surprise that the country known for its poets should have so many poetic blessings? Another well-beloved example appears on the Appleseeds website: "May you always have work for your hands to do./May your pockets hold always a coin or two./May the sun shine bright on your windowpane./May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain./May the hand of a friend always be near you./And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you."
5. Blessings Outnumber The Shamrocks
Another Irish blessing of unknown origin references the famous three- or four-leaved national symbol of luck: "May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow/And may trouble avoid you wherever you go."
6. Silver Apples Of The Moon
Another beautiful Yeats poem, "The Song of Wandering Aengus," is told through the eyes of a man (perhaps derived from Irish folklore) who spends his life searching for a beautiful but elusive young woman. The last stanza would make a haunting post for St. Patrick's Day: "Though I am old with wandering/Through hollow lands and hilly lands,/I will find out where she has gone,/And kiss her lips and take her hands;/And walk among long dappled grass,/And pluck till time and times are done,/The silver apples of the moon,/The golden apples of the sun."
7. A Pint Of Plain
From Ireland Calling comes "The Workman's Friend," a poem by Brian O'Nolan, which sums up the simple comfort that a glass of Guinness in your local pub can bring. Most postable is its opening stanza: "When things go wrong and will not go right/Though you do the best you can,/When life looks black as the hour of night -/A pint of plain is your only man."
8. Friendship Blessing
From the Facebook page An Irish Sense of Humor comes this poem just made for tagging your friends: "In thanks for the fullness of days spent together,/The friends that we pray will be with us forever./The feelings we've shared, the food and the fun,/With faith that God's blessings have only begun."
9. A Sunbeam To Warm You
Yet another lovely Emerald Isle wish is quoted in Goodreads: "May God grant you always... A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you; Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you."
10. Fairy Poem
Fairy legends are as popular as leprechaun tales in Ireland, and William Allingham's "The Faeries" is one of the best-known poems about the mysterious magical creatures. "Up the airy mountain,/Down the rushy glen,/We daren't go a-hunting/For fear of little men;/Wee folk, good folk,/Trooping altogether;/Green jacket, red cap/And white owl's feather!"
11. St. Patrick Was A Gentleman
This humorous Irish poem (as quoted by Quotes Hunger) pays tribute to the good saint himself: "St. Patrick was a gentleman/Who through strategy and stealth/Drove all the snakes from Ireland/Here's a drinkee to his health!/But not too many drinkees/Lest we lose ourselves and then.../Forget the good St. Patrick/And see them snakes again!"
12. Ample Food And Sturdy Drink
This ditty of unknown origin is so popular, it's even available as a decorative sign on Amazon. Or you can just take the text and post it on your feed: "Ample food and sturdy drink/A clean pillow for your head/And may you be half an hour in Heaven/Before the Devil knows you're dead."
13. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Posting the lyrics of this famous song will get your followers humming the tune in their heads: "When Irish eyes are smiling/Sure 'tis like a morn in spring;/In the lilt of Irish laughter/You can hear the angels sing;/When Irish hearts are happy/All the world seems bright and gay;/And when Irish eyes are smiling,/Sure they steal your heart away!"
14. Wishing You A Pot Of Gold
Sometimes simplest is best, and you can't get any simpler than this two-line poetic blessing: "Wishing you a pot of gold/And all the joy your heart can hold!" (For maximum effect, you could post a selfie of yourself wearing this shirt.)
15. My Land
The Irish are rightly proud of the land of their birth, and this poem by 19th-century author Thomas Osborne Davis sums up this pride nicely: "She is a rich and rare land;/Oh! she's a fresh and fair land;/She is a dear and rare land -/This native land of mine. .../She's not a dull or cold land;/No! she's a warm and bold land;/Oh! she's a true and old land -/This native land of mine."