Story Behind The Poem - Our Lady Speaks
by Eddy Barry
(Waterford City, Ireland)
The poem Our Lady Speaks is the only such work I've ever really completed. I wrote it on scraps of paper initially under very unusual conditions. I was actually squatting in a Council house (old family dwelling) which had been vacated by my parents for another of their choice.
The whole house was left empty of course, in a bad state of repair, and I had no electrics (not even lights) because the supply board said I wasn't the legal tenant. My parents of course had given up the key in exchange for the key to the new house.
Following that the Council sent me a legal letter suggesting I leave the house or else. I stubbornly chose the or else and stayed put. I am still living in that same house today now legally of course.
Since my early twenties I have studied and tried many forms of meditation but none compares even remotely with the Rosary because it's so incredibly warm and personal.
One evening whilst squatting in the house I lit some candles in the sitting room as it was getting dark outside and that's when it all began. Having been seated for quite a while in the silence, and thinking about my early morning meditation habit I began to write.
I was amazed how quickly the words came, I just couldn't keep pace with my thoughts and I didn't have the proper writing materials to hand either.
At one stage I stood up near the fireplace breathed a very deep sigh and leaned back against a lighted candle on the mantelpiece burning my shirt. When I realized what was happening I simply patted the flame out with my hand, returned to my seat, and continued writing.
In the early hours of the morning I fell asleep fully clothed for a little while. When I awoke I checked my shirt which had a hole burned through it and the vest underneath was scorched also but my skin was okay.
For the next few
days I continued writing and rewriting, changing the odd word here and there and enjoying every moment. I sent and showed the finished work to several people but apart from my niece who said she liked it I got no response at all.
In spite of the above I'm still crazy about the poem myself. I don't feel it was written by me but rather through me. Looking back over it afterwards I could see it was plainly influenced not only by my early morning meditation practice but also by the books I've read, my devotion to the Passion, the Eucharist, Our Lady, and my prayer life in general which focuses mostly on the welfare of others.
I'm sure a poet or a more educated person than myself would have written the poem differently but then it might lose some of its childlike simplicity which I like very much.
Since the beginning I've never prayed the Rosary quickly nor audibly when alone. It takes me almost an hour for a full Rosary of five decades. Of course others may differ but I find a nice slow even pace is best. Only then can we experience those delightful little pauses and affections, sometimes perhaps even losing the prayer altogether and basking in the silence.
Perhaps that's why Our Lady in Her wisdom gave us the Rosary beads along with the prayers so we could pause at will in the silence without losing our place on the chain and then easily pick things up again later. I love the following words taken from a book I read many years ago.
"If you agree that the soul's time of exaltation is a time of silence, try to receive the thought that therefore the time of silence is most likely to produce the soul's exaltation"
The Rosary I believe can be the perfect gateway to that silence. With it Our Lady teaches us not only how to pray but how to listen attentively also to the sweet music of our souls.