Original : 10 October, 1950. Place: The I.R.T. station in Flushing, Queens, where the elevated train and then subway line into Manhattan begins.
They're colored blue by frozen northern skies
And cleared by waters from the ancient rain
But now, the living hue that's in the eyes
Is her, and she can make those heavens smile.
I see her every school day at the train
We only get to talk a little while.
Ellen Ann Fitzpatrick is her name
And in a way she's looking at you now
Because it's from her eyes these lines of letters came.
A ngorm ó na spéartha fuara thuaidh
Is glanadh leis an bhfearthainn fadó iad
Anois, is í an niamh bheo sna súile
Í féin, is aoibh á cur sna neamha sin.
Gach lá sa stáisiún traenach feicim í
Is níl ach tamall beag ag caint againn.
Eibhlín is ainm di, nic Giolla Phádraig
'Sí féin atá ag féachaint ort anois
Oir as a súile iad na litre seo a tháinig.
Raymond J. Clarke
Réamonn Ó Cléirigh
Version in Irish : 28 November 2004.
Comment: Ellen Fitzpatrick went to the same high school I had attended, St Agnes Academy in College Point. She was wearing a school pin when I first saw her at the Flushing train station. That's why I spoke to her. She had been a freshman when I was a senior and now I was in my last year at Manhattan College and she was beginning her first year in, I believe, a nursing school, three or four stops away on the train. We'd meet almost every day and eventually we began to wait until we would meet, so we could have our daily chats. Sometimes we'd let a train go without us, so we could talk longer. We kept that up for the whole year. I don't think we ever met anywhere else except in the mornings at the station.
Eyes come into this poem twice, at the beginning and at the end. Ellen had very nice red hair and unusually fair skin with a few light brown freckles on her face, but I only mentioned her, eyes. Her eyes were enough. I'm really trying to describe Ellen's cheerful personality and our friendship, not her outward appearance. Since her eyes happen to be blue I compare them to skies. When I say she can make the heavens ( skies and eyes) smile, that brings out her cheerful personality. The lines in the middle represent our meetings and conversations, where we became friends. Then all I have to do is tell you her name.
I ended the poem with a kind of riddle about the image of eyes. Maybe it's called a conundrum. In the beginning, with the frozen northern skies and smiling heavens, I gave a picture or image of Ellen's eyes which can be seen in the mind. Ordinarily, when you see an image, that's it. You just see it. But if the image you see is an image of eyes, it's as if the eyes are looking at you. So, if the reader sees the image of Ellen's eyes, it's as if Ellen is looking at the reader. And how did this happen? The letters in the poem made it happen.