Monday, June 28, 2010

The Ballad of Father Gilligan 


This is a narrative poem written by W.B. Yeats. As most of his flock 
is dying, an old and devout priest gets to be weary and melancholy. 
Though he is sent for by a dying man, he falls asleep in his chair and 
fails to answer the call while the stars multiply and God keeps on 
talking to mankind as ever. 

The morning witnesses Father Gilligan awaking with a start and he 
repents at not having his duty. On riding to the sick man’s hut, he 
learns from the wife of the man of the death of the person. “Mavrone!” 
– cries out the priest in horror but is surprised when the woman 
thanks him for coming the night before. Falling to his knees, Father 
Gilligan expresses his gratitude to God for sending an angel to do his 
work when his weariness prevented him from doing his duty. 


The poem takes the form of a ballad which was traditionally sung with 
short and regular stanzas telling a short but profoundly meaningful 
story. Yeats’s poems are not usually overtly religious, but this poem 
is one. Though Yeats was a protestant who later turned to theosophy 
and mysticism, this poem is Catholic in tone. Also contrary to his 
practice, Yeats uses an Irish word in the poem – ‘mavrone’ which in 
Irish is ‘mobhron’, a cry of grief. 
Not only does the poem address the poverty of rural Ireland in the 
poem but also the extreme religiosity of the village people of 
Ireland. That Father Gilligan could not make it to the bedside of the 
dying man before he died and that no priest performed the rites of 
extreme unction i.e. that the man did not die in a state of grace, 
would close the door of heaven to him. The element of Catholic 
tradition is obvious here and the divine intercession to make it 
otherwise is an assertion of a loving, kind God. 
This particular ballad of Yeats seems to be a homage to the 
traditional poetry and legend of his country. It is said that the poet 
was attracted by the immediate, naïve beauty of similar Irish stories 
and songs that he went on collecting through out his mature years 
gaining fresh insights as he passionately studied them. There is no 
doubt that this dramatic narrative poem draws upon the character and 
the form of the traditional Irish ballad. 

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  1. plz sir or mabdam explain the contribution , work of father gilligan

  2. most of the priests or almost all of them in the church have been affected by plaque, and because of this, father has to carry out even their work. he prays for the well being of the sick people and also prays for peace of the departed souls. at the end of the day, he is so tired that he wishes to rest a little, but as he goes off to rest, someone or the other comes to summon father. at last, he thinks of neglecting the people, then feels guilty of thinking so because it is his duty to serve the people in the name of god. he prays to god for help. then someone again comes to summon father to pray for the well being of a sick person. he willingly goes with him. after some time, the same person comes back to call father to carry out the death ceremony of the same person who was sick some time ago. he finds father in a deep slumber and wakes him up, asking him to come again. father gets astonished to hear `again'. then he realizes that god had sent someone in his disguise to carry out his duties while he was taking rest for a short time period.

  3. what does the poem tell about god's care for the least of his creatures

  4. This poem sucks and Somnath Mitra too sucks, Idgaf about you bich!

  5. plz sir/madam plz explain summary in detail(by stanza to stanza)