Raglan Road is a classic Irish folk ballad, being a musical setting of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem of the same name and covered by many singers down the years. (And I gather it’s based on a true story; the woman’s name was Hilda Moriarty, apparently.) The Luke Kelly version is generally considered definitive, which is why it’s the version posted here.
As a poem, I don’t think it’s up there with the best. Too many lines are inelegant and too many expressions naïve. As a song, however, it works very nicely if you accept it for what it is and don’t expect a Puccini aria.
What surprises me, though, is that it was only today that I realised how close this song is to a personal experience. I know this song. It happened to me almost as told, so it means rather more to me than most songs do. There are, however, a few differences:
1. Unlike the first person protagonist, I’m not bitter.
2. Also unlike the protagonist, I claim no angelic status.
3. And unlike the object of the protagonist’s regard, the object of my regard had nothing clay-like about her.
But of course, the references to an ‘angel’ and ‘a creature made of clay’ are metaphorical, as you would expect of a poem. If you understand the metaphor as I understand it, there might be some parity. Although on the surface it appears to demean the object of regard, actually it doesn’t. Which is just as well because the object of my regard was simply the most beautiful woman I ever met.