November 15, 2012

Mulligan: back to sweet Clark County

Clark County, from Wikipedia
James Hillary Mulligan was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1844 — and was quite proud of it. Though he moved to Canada for a part of his education, he returned to complete his legal studies at Kentucky University. As a writer, editor, judge, and elected official in the state (or, technically, the commonwealth), much of his career is focused on Kentucky, including his poetry. On November 15, 1905, he was invited to present a poem to the Commercial Club in Winchester. He happily read a poem he wrote for the occasion, "Back to Sweet Clark County":

       I am weary of the wandering,
       The waiting and the pondering,
The shadows kindly lengthen out their warning;
       And I've come to the conclusion,
       Inspiration or illusion,
And I'm back to sweet Clark County in the morning.

       The years loiter still and dreary,
       Musing voices hale and cheery,
Old memories around my heart are storming;
       And the saddened days forlorn
       But lengthen out the cheerless morn,
And I'm off to sweet Clark County in the morning.

       And though the years a-many be,
       A scene comes often back to me,
A homestead quaint and landscape fair adorning,
       Yet an incense floats too often,
       And this makes the heart to soften,
And I'm off to sweet Clark County in the morning.

       Wandering wide in stranger lands,
       I've felt the clasp of kindly hands,
And while no thrill of friendship pulses scorning;
       Of a truth, in nothing vaunting,
       Other than a something wanting—
And I'm off to sweet Clark County in the morning.

Incidentally, Mulligan's former home, Maxwell Place, is now the official residence of the president of the University of Kentucky.

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