Lyra Celtica
(Modern and Contemporary)

        "A. E."   (87)


Those delicate wanderers,
The wind, the star, the cloud,
Ever before mine eyes,
As to an altar bowed,
Light and dew-laden airs
Offer in sacrifice.

The offerings arise:
Hazes of rainbow light,
Pure crystal, blue, and gold,
Through dreamland take their flight;
And 'mid the sacrifice
God moveth as of old.

In miracles of fire
He symbols forth His days,
In gleams of crystal light
Reveals what pure pathways
Lead to the soul's desire,
The silence of the height.

            The Great Breath.

Its edges foamed with amethyst and rose,
Withers once more the old blue flower of day:
There where the ether like a diamond glows
                    Its petals fade away.

A shadowy tumult stirs the dusky air;
Sparkle the delicate dews, the distant snows;
The great deep thrills, for through it everywhere
                    The breath of Beauty blows.

I saw how all the trembling ages past,
Moulded to her by deep and deeper breath,
Neared to the hour when Beauty breathes her last
                    And knows herself in death.


Why does this sudden passion smite me?
I stretch my hands all blind to see:
I need the lamp of the world to light me,
                    Lead me and set me free.

Something a moment seemed to stoop from
The night with cool cool breath on my face
Or did the hair of the twilight droop from
                    Its silent wandering ways?

About me in the thick wood netted
The wizard glow looks human-wise;
And over the tree-tops barred and fretted
                    Ponders with strange old eyes.

The tremulous lips of air blow by me
And hymn their time-old melody:
Its secret strain comes nigh and nigh me:
                    "Ah, brother, come with me;

'For here the ancient mother lingers
To dip her hands in the diamond dew,
And lave thine ache with cloud-cool fingers
                    Till sorrow die from you."

        By the Margin of the Great Deep.

When the breath of twilight blows to flame the misty skies,
All its vaporous sapphire, violet glow and silver gleam,
With their magic flood me through the gateway of the eyes;
                    I am one with the twilight's dream.

When the trees and skies and fields are one in dusky mood,
Every heart of man is rapt within the mother's breast:
Full of peace and sleep and dreams in the vasty quietude,
                    I am one with their hearts at rest.

From our immemorial joys of hearth and home and love
Strayed away along the margin of the unknown tide,
All its reach of soundless calm can thrill me far above
                    Word or touch from the lips beside.

Aye, and deep and deep and deeper let me drink and draw
From the olden fountain more than light or peace or dream,
Such primeval being as o'erfills the heart with awe,
                    Growing one with its silent stream.

                    The Breath of Light.

From the cool and dark-lipped furrows breathes a dim delight
Through the woodland's purple plumage to the diamond night.
Aureoles of joy encircle every blade of grass
Where the dew-fed creatures silent and enraptured pass:
And the restless ploughman pauses, turns, and wondering
Deep beneath his rustic habit finds himself a king;
For a fiery moment looking with the eyes of God
Over fields a slave at morning bowed him to the sod.
Blind and dense with revelation every moment flies,
And unto the Mighty Mother, gay, eternal, rise
All the hopes we hold, the gladness, dreams of things to be.
One of all thy generations, Mother, hails to thee!
Hail! and hail! and hail for ever: though I turn again
From thy joy unto the human vestiture of pain.
I, thy child, who went forth radiant in the golden prime
Find thee still the mother-hearted through my night in time;
Find in thee the old enchantment, there behind the veil
Where the Gods my brothers linger, Hail! for ever,


                Æolian Harp.

O pale green sea,
With long pale purple clouds above--
What lies in me like weight of love?
What dies in me
With utter grief, because there comes no sign
Through the sun-raying West, or the dim sea-line?

O salted air,
Blown round the rocky headlands chill--
What calls me there from cove and hill?
What calls me fair
From Thee the first-born of the youthful night?
Or in the waves is coming through the dusk twilight?

O yellow Star,
Quivering upon the rippling tide--
Sendest so far to one that sighd?
Bendest thou, Star,
Above where shadows of the dead have rest
And constant silence, with a message from the blest?

        The Fairies.

Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
    For fear of little men
Wee folk, good folk,
    Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
    And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore
    Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
    Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
    Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
    All night awake.

High on the hill-top
    The old king sits;
He is now so old and gray
    He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
    Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
    From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
    On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
    Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
    For seven years long;
When she came down again
    Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
    Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
    But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
    Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
    Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
    Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
    For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
    As dig up them in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
    In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
    For fear of little men
Wee folk, good folk,
    Trouping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
    And white owl's feather.


To the Lianhaun Shee.

Where is thy lovely perilous abode?
    In what strange phantom-land
Glimmer the fairy turrets whereto rode
    The ill-starred poet band?

Say, in the Isle of Youth hast thou thy home,
    The sweetest singer there,
Stealing on wingéd steed across the foam
    Thorough the moonlit air?

And by the gloomy peaks of Erigal,
    Haunted by storm and cloud,
Wing past, and to thy lover there let fall
    His singing robe and shroud?

Or, where the mists of bluebell float beneath
    The red stems of the pine,
And sunbeams strike thro' shadow, dost thou breathe
    The word that makes him thine?

Or, is thy palace entered thro' some cliff
    When radiant tides are full,
And round thy lover's wandering starlit skiff
    Coil in luxurious lull?

And would he, entering on the brimming flood,
    See caverns vast in height,
And diamond columns, crowned with leaf and bud,
    Glow in long lanes of light

And there the pearl of that great glittering shell
    Trembling, behold thee lone,
Now weaving in slow dance an awful spell,
    Now still upon thy throne?

Thy beauty! ah, the eyes that pierce him thro'
    Then melt as in a dream;
The voice that sings the mysteries of the blue
    And all that Be and Seem!

Thy lovely motions answering to the rhyme
    That ancient Nature sings,
That keeps the stars in cadence for all time,
    And echoes through all things!

Whether he sees thee thus, or in his dreams,
    Thy light makes all lights dim;
An aching solitude from henceforth seems
    The world of men to him.

Thy luring song, above the sensuous roar,
    He follows with delight,
Shutting behind him Life's gloomy door,
    And fares into the Night.

        EMILY BRONTE (97)


Cold in the earth--and the deep snow piled above thee,
    Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
    Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?

Now, when alone, my thoughts no longer hover
    Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
Resting their wings where heath and fern-leaves cover
    Thy noble heart for ever, ever more.

Cold in the earth--and fifteen wild Decembers,
    From these brown hills, have melted into Spring!
Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
    After such years of change and suffering!

Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee
    While the world's tide is bearing me along;
Other desires and other hopes beset me,
    Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong.

No later light has lighted up my heaven,
    No second morn has ever shone for me
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
    All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
    And even despair was powerless to destroy;
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
    Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.

Then did I check the tears of useless passion--
    Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
    Down to that tomb already more than mine.

And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
    Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
    How could I seek the empty world again?


        The Earth and Man.

A little sun, a little rain,
    A soft wind blowing from the west--
And woods and fields are sweet again,
    And warmth within the mountain's breast.

So simple is the earth we tread,
    So quick with love and life her frame,
Ten thousand years have dawned and fled,
    And still her magic is the same.

A little love, a little trust,
    A soft impulse, a sudden dream
And life as dry as desert dust
    Is fresher than a mountain stream.

So simple is the heart of man
    So ready for new hope and joy;
Ten thousand years since it began
    Have left it younger than a boy.

    (From "Six Days.")

Come, where on the moorland steep
Silent sunlight dreams of sleep,
And in this high morning air
Love me, my companion fair!
All the clouds that high in Heaven
Rest and rove from morn to even,
All the beauty that doth live
By the winds--to thee I give.

See below deep meadow lands,
Misty moors and shining sands,
And blue hills so far and dim
They melt on the horizon's rim.
O how fresh the air, and sweet,
And with what a footfall fleet
O'er the grasses' ebb and flow
The light winds to the eastward go.

Noon is now with us. Farewell
To this mountain citadel.
Come, and with your footing fine
Thread the scented paths of pine,
Till we see the Druid carn
Shadowed in the haunted tarn.
There the water blue and deep
Lies, like wearied thought, asleep.

While we watch, the storm awakes;
Flash on flash the ripple breaks,
Purple, with a snow-white crest,
On the meadow's golden breast.
Roods of tinkling sedge are kissed
By the waves of amethyst:
Trouble knows the place, they say,
But we laugh at that to-day.

Onward to the glen below;
Every nook and turn we know
Where the passion-haunted stream
Laughs and lingers in its dream,
Making where its pebbles shine
Naiad music, clear and fine,
But not sweeter than the song
Love sings as we rove along.

At the last the grassy seat,
Where of old we used to meet,
Holds us in its close embrace.
Hallowed ever be the place!
Here we kissed our hearts away
In a lovers' holiday!
Shall I dream a greater bliss
Than the memory of this?

JOHN K. CASEY    (101)

    Maire, my Girl.

Over the dim blue hills
    Strays a wild river,
Over the dim blue hills
    Rests my heart ever.
Dearer and brighter than
    Jewels and pearl,
Dwells she in beauty there,
    Maire, my girl.

Down upon Claris heath
    Shines the soft berry,
On the brown harvest tree
    Droops the red cherry.
Sweeter thy honey lips,
    Softer the curl
Straying adown thy cheeks,
    Maire, my girl.

'Twas on an April eve
    That I first met her;
Many an eve shall pass
    Ere I forget her.
Since, my young heart has been
    Wrapped in a whirl,
Thinking and dreaming of
    Maire, my girl.

She is too kind and fond
    Ever to grieve me,
She has too pure a heart
    E'er to deceive me.
Were I Tryconnell's chief
    Or Desmond's earl,
Life would be dark, wanting
    Maire, my girl!

Over the dim blue hills
    Strays a wild river,
Over the dim blue hills
    Rests my heart ever.
Dearer and brighter than
    Jewels or pearl,
Dwells she in beauty there,
    Maire, my girl.

    Gracie Og Machree.*
(Song of the "Wild Geese.")

I placed the silver in her palm,
    By Inny's smiling tide,
And vowed, ere summer time came on,
    To claim her as a bride.
But when the summer time came on
    I dwelt beyond the sea;
Yet still my heart is ever true
    To Gracie Og Machree.

O bonnie are the woods of Targ,
    And green thy hills, Rathmore,
And soft the sunlight ever falls
    On Darre's sloping shore;
And there the eyes I love--in tears
    Shine ever mournfully,
While I am far, and far away
    From Gracie Og Machree.

When battle-steeds were neighing loud,
    With bright blades in the air,
Next to my inmost heart I wore
    A bright tress of her hair.
When stirrup-cups were lifted up
    To lips, with soldier glee,
One toast I always fondly pledged,
    'Twas Gracie Og Machree.
*Gracie Og mo-chridhe--"Young Gracie, my heart."


(From "The Sea Bride.")

Prayer unsaid, and mass unsung,
Deadman's dirge must still be rung:
    Dingle-dong, the dead-bells sound!
    Mermen chant his dirge around!

Wash him bloodless, smooth him fair,
Stretch his limbs, and sleek his hair
    Dingle-dong, the dead-bells go!
    Mermen swing them to and fro!

In the wormless sand shall he
Feast for no foul glutton be:
    Dingle-dong, the dead-bells chime!
    Mermen keep the tone and time!

We must with a tombstone brave
Shut the shark out from his grave
    Dingle-dong, the dead-bells toll!
    Mermen dirgers ring his knoll!

Such a slab will we lay o'er him
All the dead shall rise before him!
    Dingle-dong, the dead-bells boom!
    Mermen lay him in his tomb!


        The Little Black Rose.

The Little Black Rose shall be red at last;
    What made it black but the March wind dry,
And the tear of the widow that fell on it fast?
    It shall redden the hills when June is nigh.

The Silk of the Kine shall rest at last;
    What drove her forth but the dragon-fly?
In the golden vale she shall feed full fast,
    With her mild gold horn and slow, dark eye.

The wounded wood-dove lies dead at last!
    The pine long bleeding, it shall not die!
This song is secret. Mine ear it passed
    In a wind o'er the plains at Athenry.


He roamed half round the world of woe,
    Where toil and labour never cease;
Then dropped one little span below
    In search of peace.

And now to him mild beams and showers,
    All that he needs to grace his tomb,
From loneliest regions at all hours
    Unsought for come.


                    Killiney Far Away.

To Killiney far away flies my fond heart night and day,
    To ramble light and happy through its fields and dells;
For here life smiles in vain, and earth's a land of pain,
    While all that's bright in Erin in Killiney dwells.

In Killiney in the West has a linnet sweet her nest,
    And her song makes all the wild birds in the green wood dumb;
To the captive without cheer, it were freedom but to hear
    Such sorrow-soothing music from her fair throat come.

In Killiney's bower blows a blushing, budding rose,
    With perfume of the rarest that the June day yields;
And none who pass the way, but sighing wish that they
    Might cull that fragrant flower of the dewy fields.

Through Killiney's meadows pass, on their way to early Mass,
    Like twin-stars 'mid the grass, two small feet bare;
And angel-pure the heart, where the murmured Aves start
    On their wingéd way to Heaven from the chapel there.

And the pride of Irish girls is the dear brown head of curls,
    The pearl white of pearls, stoirin bàn mo chridhe;
As bright-browed as the dawn, and as meek-eyed as the fawn,
    And as graceful as the swan gliding on to sea.

Not for jewels nor for gold, nor for hoarded wealth untold,
    Not for all that mortals hold most desired and dear,
Would I my share forego in the loving heart aglow,
    That beats beneath the snow of her bosom fair.

Soon Killiney will you weep--for I know not rest nor sleep,
    Till swiftly oer the deep I with white sails come,
To win the linnet sweet, and the two white twinkling feet,
    And the heart with true love beating, to my far-offhome.

And O! farewell to care, when the rose of perfume rare,
    And the dear brown curling hair on my proud breast lie;
Then Killiney far away, never more by night or day,
    To thy skies, or dark or grey, shall my fond heart fly.


                Cean Dubh Deelish.*

Put your head, darling, darling, darling,
    Your darling black head my heart above;
Oh, mouth of honey, with thyme for fragrance,
    Who, with heart in breast could deny you love?

Oh, many and many a young girl for me is pining,
    Letting her locks of gold to the cold wind free,
For me, the foremost of our gay young fellows;
    But I'd leave a hundred, pure love, for thee!

Then put your head, darling, darling, darling,
    Your darling black head my heart above;
Oh, mouth of honey, with thyme for fragrance,
    Who, with heart in breast, could deny you love?
*Pron. Cawn dhu dee-lish--ie. "darling black head."

            Molly Asthore.

O Mary dear! O Mary fair!
    O branch of generous stem!
White blossom of the banks of Nair,
    Though lilies grow on them;
You've left me sick at heart for love,
    So faint I cannot see;
The candle swims the board above,
    I'm drunk for love of thee!
O stately stem of maiden pride,
    My woe it is and pain
That I thus severed from thy side
    The long night must remain.

Through all the towns of Innisfail
    I've wandered far and wide,
But from Downpatrick to Kinsale,
    From Carlow to Kilbride,
Many lords and dames of high degree
    Where'er my feet have gone,
My Mary, one to equal thee
    I never looked upon:
I live in darkness and in doubt
    When'er my love's away;
But were the gracious sun put out,
    Her shadow would make day.

'Tis she, indeed, young bud of bliss,
    As gentle as she's fair.
Though lily-white her bosom is,
    And sunny bright her hair,
And dewy azure her blue eye,
    And rosy red her cheek,
Yet brighter she in modesty,
    Most beautifully meek:
The world's wise men from north to south
    Can never cure my pain;
But one kiss from her honey mouth
    Would make me well again.

        The Fair Hills of Ireland.
            (From the Irish.)

A plenteous place is Ireland for hospitable cheer,
                        Uileacan dubh O!
Where the wholesome fruit is bursting from the yellow barley ear;
                        Uileacan dubh O!
There is honey in the trees where her misty vales expand,
And her forest paths in summer are by falling waters fanned;
There is dew at high noontide there, and springs i' the yellow sand,
On the fair hills of holy Ireland.

Curled is he and ringleted, and plaited to the knee,
                        Uileacan dubh O!
Each captain who comes sailing across the Irish Sea;
                        Uileacan dubh O!
And I will make my journey, if life and health but stand,
Unto that pleasant country, that fresh and fragrant strand,
And leave your boasted braveries, your wealth and high command,
For the fair hills of holy Ireland.

Large and profitable are the stacks upon the ground;
                        Uileacan dubh O!
The butter and the cream do wondrously abound,
                        Uileacan dubh O!
The cresses on the water and the sorrels are at hand,
And the cuckoo's calling daily his note of music bland,
And the bold thrush sings so bravely his song i' the forest grand,
On the fair hills of holy Ireland.

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