Lyra Celtica



When we Two parted.

When we two parted
    In silence and tears,
    To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
    Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
    Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
    Sank chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning
    Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
    And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
    And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
    A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me--
    Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
    Who knew thee too well:--
Long, long shall I rue thee,
    Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met--
    In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
    Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
    After long years,
How shall I greet thee?--
    With silence and tears.

Stanzas for Music.

There be none of Beauty's daughters
    With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
    Is thy sweet voice to me
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming.

And the midnight moon is weaving
    Her bright chain o'er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
    As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer's ocean.


    Colin's Cattle.
  (Crodh Chaillean.)

A maiden sang sweetly
As a bird on a tree,
Cro' Chaillean, Cro' Chaillean,
Cro' Chaillean for me!

My own Colin's cattle,
Dappled, dun, brown, and grey,
They return to the milking
At the close of the day.

In the morning they wander
To their pastures afar,
Where the grass grows the greenest
By corrie and scaur.

They wander the uplands
Where the soft breezes blow,
And they drink from the fountain
Where the sweet cresses grow.

But so far as they wander,
Dappled, dun, brown, and grey,
They return to the milking
At the close of the day.

My bed's in the Shian
On the canach's soft down,
But I'd sleep best with Colin
In our shieling alone.

Thus a maiden sang sweetly
As a bird on a tree,
Cro' Chaillean, Cro' Chaillean,
Cro' Chaillean for me.


MacCrimmon's Lament.

Round Coolin's peak the mist is sailing,
The banshee croons her note of wailing,
Mild blue eyne with sorrow are streaming
For him that shall never return, MacCrimmon!

The breeze on the brae is mournfully blowing!
The brook in the hollow is plaintively flowing,
The warblers, the soul of the groves, are moaning,
For MacCrimmon that's gone, with no hope of returning!

The tearful clouds the stars are veiling,
The sails are spread, but the boat is not sailing,
The waves of the sea are moaning and mourning
For MacCrimmon that's gone to find no returning!

No more on the hill at the festal meeting
The pipe shall sound with echo repeating,
And lads and lasses change mirth to mourning
For him that is gone to know no returning!

No more, no more, no more for ever,
In war or peace, shall return MacCrimmon;
No more, no more, no more for ever
Shall love or gold bring back MacCriinmon!

        ("Ian Mňr")


Thy dark eyes to mine, Aithne,
    Lamps of desire!
O how my soul leaps
    Leaps to their fire!

Sure, now, if I in heaven
    Dreaming in bliss,
Heard but the whisper,
But the lost echo even
    Of one such kiss--

All of the Soul of me
    Would leap afar--
If that called me to thee,
Aye, I would leap afar
    A falling star!


            A Loafer.

I hang about the streets all day,
    At night I hang about;
I sleep a little when I may,
    But rise betimes the morning's scout;
For through the year I always hear
    Afar, aloft, a ghostly shout.

My clothes are worn to threads and loops;
    My skin shows here and there ;
About my face like seaweed droops
    My tangled beard, my tangled hair;
From cavernous and shaggy brows
    My stony eyes untroubled stare.

I move from eastern wretchedness
    Through Fleet Street and the Strand;
And as the pleasant people press
    I touch them softly with my hand,
Perhaps I know that still I go
    Alive about a living land.

For far in front the clouds are riven
    I hear the ghostly cry,
As if a still voice fell from heaven
    To where sea-whelmed the drowned folk lie
In sepulchres no tempest stirs
    And only eyeless things pass by.

In Piccadilly spirits pass:
    Oh, eyes and cheeks that glow!
Oh, strength and comeliness! Alas,
    The lustrous health is earth I know
From shrinking eyes that recognise
    No brother in my rags and woe.

I know no handicraft, no art,
    But I have conquered fate;
For I have chosen the better part,
    And neither hope, nor fear, nor hate.
With placid breath on pain and death,
    My certain alms, alone I wait.

And daily, nightly comes the call,
    The pale unechoing note,
The faint "Aha!" sent from the wall
    Of heaven, but from no ruddy throat
Of human breed or seraph's seed,
    A phantom voice that cries by rote.

            In Romney Marsh.

As I went down to Dymchurch Wall,
    I heard the South sing o'er the land
I saw the yellow sunlight fall
    On knolls where Norman churches stand.

And ringing shrilly, taut and lithe,
    Within the wind a core of sound,
The wire from Romney town to Hythe
    Along its airy journey wound.

A veil of purple vapour flowed
    And trailed its fringe along the Straits;
The upper air like sapphire glowed:
    And roses filled Heaven's central gates.

Masts in the offing wagged their tops;
    The swinging waves pealed on the shore;
The saffron beach, all diamond drops
    And beads of surge, prolonged the roar.

As I came up from Dymchurch Wall,
    I saw above the Downs' low crest
The crimson brands of sunset fall,
    Flicker and fade from out the West.

Night sank: like flakes of silver fire
    The stars in one great shower came down;
Shrill blew the wind; and shrill the wire
    Rang out from Hythe to Romney town.

The darkly shining salt sea drops
    Streamed as the waves clashed on the shore;
The beach, with all its organ stops
    Pealing again, prolonged the roar.


O'er the Muir amang the Heather.

Comin' through the craigs o' Kyle,
    Amang the bonnie bloomin' heather,
There I met a bonnie lassie,
    Keepin' a' her ewes thegither.

O'er the muir amang the heather
O'er the muir amang the heather,
There I met a bonnie lassie
Keepin' a' her ewes thegither.

Says I, My dear, where is thy hame?
    In muir or dale, pray tell me whether?
Says she, I tent the fleecy flocks
    That feed amang the bloomin' heather.

O'er the muir, etc.

We laid us down upon a bank,
    Sae warm and sunnie was the weather;
She left her flocks at large to rove
    Amang the bonnie bloomin' heather.

O'er the muir, etc.

While thus we lay, she sang a sang,
    Till echo rang a mile and further
And aye the burden of the sang
    Was, O'er the muir amang the heather.

O'er the muir, etc.

She charmed my heart, and aye sin syne
    I couldna' think on ony ither;
By sea and sky! she shall be mine,
    The bonnie lass amang the heather.

O'er the muir amang the heather,
O'er the muir amang the heather,
There I met a bonnie lassie
Keepin' a' her flocks thegither.



Once I was a child,
Full of frolic wild;
All the stars for glancing,
All the earth for dancing;
            Oimé! Oimé!

When I ran about,
All the flowers came out,
Here and there like stray things,
Just to be my playthings.
            Oimé! Oimé!

Mother's eyes were deep,
Never needing sleep.
Morning--they're above me!
Eventide--they love me!

Father was so tall!
Stronger he than all!
On his arm he bore me,
Queen of all before me.
             Oimé! Oimé!

Mother is asleep!
For her eyes so deep,
Grew so tired and aching,
They could not keep waking,
           Oimé! Oimé!

Father though so strong
Laid him down along--
By my mother sleeping;
And they left me weeping,
            Oimé! Oimé!

Now nor bird, nor bee,
Ever sings to me!
Since they left me crying,
All things have been dying.
            Oimé! Oimé!



Alas, alas, eheu!
That the sky is only blue,
    To gather from the grass
The rain and dew!

Alas! that eyes are fair:
That tears may gather there
    Mist and the breath of sighs
From the marsh of care!

Alas, alas, eheu!
That we meet but to bid adieu:
    That the sands in Time's ancient glass
Are so swift and few!

Alas, alas, eheu!
That the heart is only true
    To gather, where false feet pass,
The thorn and rue!


            A Spring Trouble.

All the meadowlands were gay
Once upon a morn of May;
All the tree of life was dight
With the blossoms of delight.

And my whole heart was a-tune
With the songs of long ere noon--
Dew-bedecked and fresh and free,
As the unsunned meadows be.

"Lo!" I said unto my spirit,
"Earth and sky thou dost inherit."
Forth I wandered, void of care,
In the largesse of the air.

By there came a damosel
At a look I loved her well
But she passed and would not stay
And all the rest has gone away.

And now no fields are fair to see,
Nor any bud on any tree;
Nor have I share in earth or sky
All for a maiden's passing by!


        Culloden Moor.
    (Seen in Autumn Rain.)

Full of grief, the low winds sweep
    O'er the sorrow-haunted ground;
Dark the woods where night rains weep,
    Dark the hills that watch around.

Tell me, can the joy of spring
    Ever make this sadness flee,
Make the woods with music ring,
    And the streamlet laugh for glee?

When the summer moor is lit
    With the pale fire of the broom,
And through green the shadows flit,
    Still shall mirth give place to gloom?

Sad shall it be, though sun be shed
    Golden bright on field and flood
E'en the heather's crimson red
    Holds the memory of blood.

Here that broken, weary band
    Met the ruthless foe's array,
Where those moss-grown boulders stand,
    On that dark and fatal day.

Like a phantom hope had fled,
    Love to death was all in vain,
Vain, though heroes' blood was shed,
    And though hearts were broke in twain.

Many a voice has cursed the name
    Time has into darkness thrust,
Cruelty his only fame
    In forgetfulness and dust,

Noble dead that sleep below,
    We your valour ne'er forget;
Soft the heroes' rest who know
    Hearts like theirs are beating yet.


The Weaving of the Tartan.

I saw an old Dame weaving,
Weaving, weaving
I saw an old Dame weaving,
        A web of tartan fine.
"Sing high," she said, "sing low," she said,
"Wild torrent to the sea,
That saw my exiled bairnies torn,
In sorrow far frae me.
And warp well the long threads,
The bright threads, the strong threads;
Woof well the cross threads,
        To make the colours shine."

She wove in red for every deed,
Of valour done for Scotia's need:
She wove in green, the laurel's sheen,
In memory of her glorious dead.
She spake of Alma's steep incline,
The desert march, the "thin red line,"
Of how it fired the blood and stirred the heart,
Where'er a bairn of hers took part.
"'Tis for the gallant lads," she said,
"Who wear the kilt and tartan plaid:
'Tis for the winsome lasses too,
Just like my dainty bells of blue.
So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads;
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to mine."

I saw an old Dame sighing,
Sighing, sighing;
I saw an old Dame sighing,
        Beside a lonely glen.
"Sing high," she said, "sing low," she said,
Wild tempests to the sea,
The wailing of the pibroch's note,
That bade farewell to me.
And wae fa' the red deer,
The swift deer, the strong deer,
Wae fa' the cursed deer,
        That take the place o' men."

Where'er a noble deed is wrought,
Where'er the brightest realms of thought,
The artists' skill, the martial thrill,
Be sure to Scotia's land is wed.
She casts the glamour of her name,
O'er Britain's throne and statesman's fame;
From distant lands 'neath foreign names,
Some brilliant son his birthright claims.
For ah!--she has reared them amid tempests,
And cradled them in snow,
To give the Scottish arms their strength,
Their hearts a kindly glow.
So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads.
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to thine.


The Thrush's Song.
(From the Gaelic.)

Dear, dear, dear,
In the rocky glen,
Far away, far away, far away
The haunts of men;
There shall we dwell in love
With the lark and the dove,
Cuckoo and corn-rail,
Feast on the bearded snail,
Worm and gilded fly,
Drink of the crystal rill
Winding adown the hill
Never to dry.
With glee, with glee, with glee
    Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up here;
Nothing to harm us, then sing merrily,
    Sing to the loved one whose nest is near.

Qui, qui, queen, quip;
Tiurru, tiurru, chipiwi,
Too-tee, too-tee, chin-choo,
Chirri, chirri, chooee
Quin, qui, qui!


The Prayer of Women.

O Spirit, that broods upon the hills
And moves upon the face of the deep,
And is heard in the wind,
Save us from the desire of men's eyes,
And the cruel lust of them,
And the springing of the cruel seed
In that narrow house which is as the grave
For darkness and loneliness . . .
That women carry with them with shame, and weariness,
    and long pain,
Only for the laughter of man's heart,
And the joy that triumphs therein,
And the sport that is in his heart,
Wherewith he mocketh us,
Wherewith he playeth with us,
Wherewith he trampleth upon us
Us, who conceive and bear him;
Us, who bring him forth;
Who feed him in the womb, and at the breast, and at
    the knee:
Whom he calleth mother and wife,
And mother again of his children and his children's
Ah, hour of the hours,
When he looks at our hair and sees it is grey;
And at our eyes and sees they are dim;
And at our lips straightened out with long pain
And at our breasts, fallen and seared as a barren hill
And at our hands, worn with toil!
Ah, hour of the hours,
When, seeing, he seeth all the bitter ruin and wreck of
All save the violated womb that curses him--
All save the heart that forbeareth . . . for pity--
All save the living brain that condemneth him--
All save the spirit that shall not mate with him
All save the soul he shall never see
Till he be one with it, and equal;
He who hath the bridle, but guideth not;
He who hath the whip, yet is driven;
He who as a shepherd calleth upon us,
But is himself a lost sheep, crying among the hills!
O Spirit, and the Nine Angels who watch us,
And Thy Son, and Mary Virgin,
Heal us of the wrong of man:
We, whose breasts are weary with milk
Cry, cry to Thee, O Compassionate!

                The Rune of Age.

O Thou that on the hills and wastes of Night art
Whose folds are flameless moons and icy planets,
Whose darkling way is groomed with ancient sorrows:
Whose breath lies white as snow upon the olden,
Whose sigh it is that furrows breasts grown milkless,
Whose weariness is in the loins of man
And is the barren stillness of the woman:
O thou whom all would 'scape, and all must meet,
Thou that the Shadow art of Youth Eternal,
The gloom that is the hush'd air of the Grave,
The sigh that is between last parted love,
The light for aye withdrawing from weary eyes,
The tide from stricken hearts forever ebbing!

O thou the Elder Brother whom none loveth,
Whom all men hail with reverence or mocking,
Who broodest on the brows of frozen summits
Yet deamest in the eyes of babes and children:
Thou, Shadow of the Heart, the Brain, the Life,
Who art that dusk What-is that is already Has-Been,
To thee this rune of the fathers-to-the-sons
And of the sons to the sons, and mothers to new
To thee who art Aois,
To thee who art Age!

Breathe thy frosty breath upon my hair, for I am weary!
Lay thy frozen hand upon my bones that they support not,
Put thy chill upon the blood that it sustain not
Place the crown of thy fulfilling on my forehead;
Throw the silence of thy spirit on my spirit,
Lay the balm and benediction of thy mercy
On the brain-throb and the heart-pulse and the life
For thy child that bows his head is weary,
For thy child that bows his head is weary.
I the shadow am that seeks the Darkness.
Age, that hath the face of Night unstarr'd and moonless,
Age, that doth extinguish star and planet,
Moon and sun and all the fiery worlds,
Give me now thy darkness and thy silence!

    A Milking Song.

O sweet St Bride of the
        Yellow, yellow hair:
Paul said, and Peter said,
And all the saints alive or dead
Vowed she had the sweetest head,
Bonnie, sweet St Bride of the
        Yellow, yellow hair.

White may my milking be,
        White as thee:
Thy face is white, thy neck is white,
Thy hands are white, thy feet are white,
For thy sweet soul is shining bright--
        O dear to me,
        O dear to see
        St Bridget white!

Yellow may my butter be,
        Soft, and round:
Thy breasts are sweet,
Soft, round and sweet,
So may my butter be:
So may my butter be O
        Bridget sweet!

Safe thy way is, safe, O
        Safe, St Bride:
May my kye come home at even,
None be fallin' none be leavin',
Dusky even, breath-sweet even,
Here, as there, where O
        St Bride thou
Keepest tryst with God in heav'n,
Seest the angels bow
And souls be shriven-
Here, as there, 'tis breath-sweet even
        Far and wide--
Singeth thy little maid
Safe in thy shade
        Bridget, Bride!


Who is it swinging you to and fro,
With a long low swing and a sweet low croon,
And the loving words of the mother's rune?

Who is it swinging you to and fro?
I'm thinking it is an angel fair,
The Angel that looks on the gulf from the lowest stair
And swings the green world upward by its leagues of
    sunshine hair.

Who is it swings you and the Angel to and fro?
It is He whose faintest thought is a world afar,
It is He whose wish is a leaping seven-moon'd star,
It is He, Lennavan-mo,
To whom you and I and all things flow.

It is only a little wee lass you are, Eilidh-mo-chree,
But as this wee blossom has roots in the depths of the
So you are at one with the Lord of Eternity
Bonnie wee lass that you are,
My morning-star,
Eilidh-mo-chree, Lennavan-mo,

The Songs of Ethlenn Stuart.


His face was glad as dawn to me,
His breath was sweet as dusk to me,
His eyes were burning flames to me,
                Shule, Shule, Shule, agŕh!

The broad noon-day was night to me,
The full-moon night was dark to me,
The stars whirled and the poles span
The hour God took him far from me.

Perhaps he dreams in heaven now,
Perhaps he doth in worship bow,
A white flame round his foam-white brow,
            Shule, Shule, Shule, agŕh!

I laugh to think of him like this,
Who once found all his joy and bliss
Against my heart, against my kiss,
            Shule, Shule, Shule agŕh!

Star of my joy, art still the same
Now thou hast gotten a new name,
Pulse of my heart, my Blood, my Flame,
            Shule, Shule, Shule, agŕh!


He laid his dear face next to mine,
His eyes aflame burned close to mine,
His heart to mine, his lips to mine,
O he was mine, all mine, all mine.

Drunk with old wine of love I was,
Drunk as the wild-bee in the grass
Singing his honey-mad sweet bass,
Drunk, drunk with wine of love I was

His lips of life to me were fief,
Before him I was but a leaf
Blown by the wind, a shaken leaf,
Yea, as the sickle reaps the sheaf,
                                My Grief!
He reaped me as a gathered sheaf!

His to be gathered, his the bliss,
But not a greater bliss than this!
All of the empty world to miss
For wild redemption of his kiss!
                                My Grief!

For hell was lost, though hea'ven was brief
Sphered in the universe of thy kiss--
So cries to thee thy fallen leaf,
Thy gathered sheaf,
Lord of my life, my Pride, my Chief,
                                My Grief!

The Closing Doors.

Eilidh,* Eilidh, Eilidh, heart of me, dear and sweet!
In dreams I am hearing the whisper, the sound of your coming feet:
The sound of your coming feet that like the sea-hoofs beat
A music by day and night, Eilidh, on the sands of my heart, my sweet!

O·sands of my heart what wind moans low along thy shadowy shore?
Is that the deep sea-heart I hear with the dying sob at its core?
Each dim lost wave that lapses is like a closing door:
'Tis closing doors they hear at last who soon shall hear no more,
                    Who soon shall hear no more.

Eilidh, Eilidh, Eilidh, come home, come home to the heart o' me:
It is pain I am having ever, Eilidh, a pain that will not be:
Come home, come home, for closing doors are as the waves o' the sea,
Once closed they are closed for ever, Eilidh, lost, lost, for thee and me,
                    Lost, lost, for thee and me.
*Eilidh is pronounced Eily (liq.) 

The Sorrow of Delight.

Till death be filled with darkness
    And life be filled with light,
The sorrow of ancient sorrows
    Shall be the Sorrow of Night:
But then the sorrow of sorrows
    Shall be the Sorrow of Delight.

Heart's-joy must fade with sorrow,
    For both are sprung from clay:
But the joy that is one with Sorrow,
    Treads an immortal way:
Each hath in fee To-morrow,
    And their soul is Yesterday.

Joy that is clothed with shadow
    Is the joy that is not dead:
For the joy that is clothed with the rainbow
    Shall with the bow be sped:
Where the Sun spends his fires is she,
    And where the Stars are led.

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