“Said Hanrahan” by American-born bush poet, John O’Brien is a beautifully written poem written in rhyme from the perspective of a character in Irish literature, namely, the Irishman, “Samuel Hanrahan” in a dialogue with Dan Croke. The poem’s original publication was in June 1919 in The Catholic News, appearing in a collection of poems and short stories called Around the Boree and Other Verses and The Sacred Pages. The poem has an interesting and unique use of language, being highly rhythmic. The poem was later used as the title of a collection of five essays by James Joyce called The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

Samuel Hanrahan in a dialogue with Dan Croke.

Sam is an Irishman, a bachelor, a simple, hardworking person of humble origin living near the river of his birth, the Liffey. He works as a shepherd and takes care of his flock, the cows. When the cows are sick, he feeds them with his own milk and treats them gently. One day, after several months of sickness, one of the cows is killed. This act leaves Sam devastated, and he finds himself very depressed and sorrowful.

Dan Croke

In a trance like state, Sam is visited by a stranger, an angelic figure who is an agent of divine grace. He tells Sam that the cow of his flock is dead because the devil tricked him. The devil, represented by a winged creature, is sent to hell by a messenger, sent by God. Sam, after accepting God’s help, forgives the devil and forgives the cow as well. In so doing, he saves both the cow and the devil.

Said Hanrahan’s words suggest the nature of the spiritual and physical relationship between the humans and the angels of heaven. The spiritual relationship is one of unity and union. Angels are servants of God and are sent to assist men in the physical world. They are the ones in charge of assisting us in our daily life, not only helping us but also encouraging us in our personal growth. This unity is manifested through the gift of a new life: a new body, a new relationship and a new and healthy spirit.

Sam finds solace and happiness when the angel appears to him, and the angel reveals to Sam the secret of his life: The angels teach him how to lead a life of peace and serenity. In order to lead such a life, Sam must first accept the love of Jesus Christ. He must be willing to follow the path of Christ and follow His teachings. He must be willing to forgive those who have wronged him, to be reconciled with his sinfulness and to give thanks to the Lord. This, too, is the way of complete liberation.

It is with this new found peace and serenity that Sam accepts the angelic messages of love, forgiveness and gratitude, and accepts Christ into his life. As a result, all of his problems melt away and he is transformed. He learns to love Jesus and to live the life of full communion with Him. In turn, God also transforms him into a new person, a person who can walk freely and fully in his new identity. The meaning of said Hanrahan Poem is one that resonates with millions of people in the spiritual world. “Samuel Hanrahan” has been quoted throughout the world as saying, “God gave me a heart of gold and that made me happy, Jesus is my rock and my fortress”. This is the meaning of the poem that resonated throughout the world of the late sixties and the entire ‘hippie’ generation: Love the Lord and you will find His love in your life.

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