Lyra Celtica



Farewell to Fiunary.

The wind is fair, the day is fine,
And swiftly, swiftly runs the time,
The boat is floating on the tide
That wafts me off from Fiunary.

Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Eirigh agus tingainn O!
Farewell, farewell to Fiunaryl

A thousand, thousand tender ties
Awake this day my plaintive sighs,
My heart within me almost dies
To think of leaving Fiunary.

Eirigh agus tingainn O! etc.

With pensive steps I often strolled
Where Fingal's castle stood of old,
And listened while the shepherd told
The legend tales of Fiunary.

Eirigh agas tingainn O! etc.

I'll often pause at close of day
Where Ossian sang his martial lay,
And viewed the sun's departing ray
Wandering o'er Dun Fiunary.

Eirigh agus tingainn O! etc.


A Kiss of the King's Hand.

It wasna from a golden throne,
Or a bower with milk-white roses blown,
But mid the kelp on northern sand
That I got a kiss of the king's hand.

I durstna raise my een tae see
If he even cared to glance at me;
His princely brow with care was crossed
For his true men slain and kingdom lost.

Think not his hand was soft and white,
Or his fingers a' with jewels dight,
Or round his wrists were jewels grand
When I got a kiss of the king's hand.

But dearer far tae my twa een
Was the ragged sleeve of red and green
O'er that young weary hand that fain,
With the guid broadsword, had found its ain.

Farewell for ever, the distance gray
And the lapping ocean seemed to say--
For him a home in a foreign land.
And for me one kiss of the king's hand.


The First Ship.

The sky in beauty arch'd
    The wide and weltering flood,
While the winds in triumph march'd
    Through their pathless solitude--
Rousing up the plume on ocean's hoary crest,
    That like space in darkness slept,
    When his watch old Silence kept,
    Ere the earliest planet leapt
            From its breast.

A speck is on the deeps,
    Like a spirit in her flight;
How beautiful she keeps
    Her stately path in light!
She sweeps the shining wilderness in glee--
    The sun has on her smiled,
    And the waves, no longer wild,
    Sing in glory round that child
            Of the sea.

'Twas at the set of sun
    That she tilted o'er the flood,
Moving like God alone
    O'er the glorious solitude--
The billows crouch around her as her slaves
    How exulting are her crew!--
    Each sight to them is new,
    As they sweep along the blue
            Of the waves.

Fair herald of the fleets
    That yet shall cross the waves,
Till the earth with ocean meets
    One universal grave,
What armaments shall follow thee in joy!
    Linking each distant land
    With trade's harmonious band,
    Or bearing havoc's brand
            To destroy!


The Land o' the Leal.

I'm wearin' awa, John,
Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John,
I'm wearin' awa
        To the land o' the leal.

There's nae sorrow there, John,
There's neither cauld nor care, John,
The day is aye fair
        In the land o' the leal.

Our bonnie bairn's there, John,
She was baith gude and fair, John,
And, oh, we grudged her sair
        To the land o' the leal.

But sorrow's sel' wears past, John,
And joy's a-comin' fast, John,
The joy that's aye to last,
    In the land o' the leal.

Oh, dry your glistening ee, John,
My saul langs to be free, John,
And Angels beckon me
        To the land o' the leal.

O haud ye leal and true, John,
Your day it's wearin' through, John,
And I'll welcome you
        To the land o' the leal.

Now fare-ye-weel, my ain John,
The warld's cares are vain, John,
We'll meet and we'll be fain
        In the land o' the leal.



My heart is yearning to thee, O Skye!
    Dearest of Islands!
There first the sunshine gladdened my eye,
    On the sea sparkling;
There doth the dust of my dear ones lie,
    In the old graveyard.

Bright are the golden green fields to me,
    Here in the Lowlands;
Sweet sings the mavis in the thorn-tree,
    Snowy with fragrance:
But oh for a breath of the great North Sea,
    Girdling the mountains!

Good is the smell of the brine that laves
    Black rock and skerry,
Where the great palm-leaved tangle waves
    Down in the green depths,
And round the craggy bluff pierced with caves
    Sea-gulls are screaming.

Where the sun sinks beyond Humish Head,
    Crowning in glory,
As he goes down to his ocean bed
    Studded with islands,
Flushing the Coolin with royal red,
    Would I were sailing!

Many a hearth round that friendly shore
    Giveth warm welcome;
Charms still are there, as in days of yore,
    More than of mountains;
But hearths and faces are seen no more,
    Once of the brightest.

Many a poor black cottage is there,
    Grimy with peat smoke,
Sending up in the soft evening air
    Purest blue incense,
While the low music of psalm and prayer
    Rises to Heaven.

Kind were the voices I used to hear
    Round such a fireside,
Speaking the mother tongue old and dear,
    Making the heart beat
With sudden tales of wonder and fear,
    Or plaintive singing.

Great were the marvellous stories told
    Of Ossian's heroes,
Giants, and witches, and young men bold,
    Seeking adventures,
Winning kings' daughters and guarded gold,
    Only with valour.

Reared in those dwellings have brave ones been;
    Brave ones are still there;
Forth from their darkness on Sunday I've seen
    Coming pure linen,
And like the linen the souls were clean
    Of them that wore it.

See that thou kindly use them, O man!
    To whom God giveth
Stewardship over them, in thy short span
    Not for thy pleasure;
Woe be to them who choose for a clan
    Four-footed people!

Blessings be with ye, both now and aye
    Dear human creatures!
Yours is the love that no gold can buy!
    Nor time can wither,
Peace be to thee and thy children, O Skye!
    Dearest of islands.


Midnight by the Sea.

Waves of the wild North Sea,
From the dumb agony
    Of dreams awaking,
How sweet within the loosened arms of sleep
    To lie in silence deep,
Lone listening to your many-throated roar
    Along the caverned shore,
In midnight darkness breaking--breaking--breaking!

Wind of the wild North Sea,
What may your message be,
    Rising and falling?
From out the infinite ye make reply:
    "Whither? and whence? and why?"
And my soul echoes the despairing moan--
    Which none can answer--none!--
From out its depths abysmal calling--calling--calling.

In Shadowland.

Between the moaning of the mountain stream
    And the hoarse thunder of the Atlantic deep,
    An outcast from the peaceful realms of sleep
I lie, and hear as in a fever-dream
The homeless night-wind in the darkness scream
    And wail around the inaccessible steep
    Down whose gaunt sides the spectral torrents leap
From crag to crag,--till almost I could deem
The plaided ghosts of buried centuries
    Were mustering in the glen with bow and spear
    And shadowy hounds to hunt the shadowy deer,
Mix in phantasmal sword-play, or, with eyes
    Of wrath and pain immortal, wander o'er
    Loved scenes where human footstep comes no more.


        Mountain Twilight.

The hills slipped over each on each
    Till all their changing shadows died.
Now in the open skyward reach
    The lights grow solemn side by side.
While of these hills the westermost
    Rears high his majesty of coast
In shifting waste of dim-blue brine
    And fading olive hyaline;
Till all the distance overflows,
    The green in watchet and the blue
In purple. Now they fuse and close--
    A darkling violet, fringed anew
With light that on the mountain soars,
    A dusky flame on tranquil shores;
Kindling the summits as they grow
    In audience to the skies that call,
Ineffable in rest and all
    The pathos of the afterglow.



We'll meet nae mair at sunset when the weary day is dune,
Nor wander hame thegither by the lee licht o' the mune.
I'll hear your steps nae langer amang the dewy corn,
For we'll meet nae mair, my bonniest, either at e'en or morn.

The yellow broom is waving abune the sunny brae,
And the rowan berries dancing where the sparkling waters play;
Tho' a' is bright and bonnie it's an eerie place to me,
For we'll meet nae mair, my dearest, either by burn or tree.

Far up into the wild hills there's a kirkyard lone and still,
Where the frosts lie ilka morning and the mists hang low and chill.
And there ye sleep in silence while I wander here my lane
Till we meet ance mair in Heaven never to part again!


        November's Cadence.

The bees about the Linden-tree,
When blithely summer blooms were springing,
Would hum a heartsome melody,
The simple baby-soul of singing;
And thus my spirit sang to me
When youth its wanton way was winging:
    "Be glad, be sad--thou hast the choice
      But mingle music with thy voice."

The linnets on the Linden-tree,
Among the leaves in autumn dying,
Are making gentle melody,
A mild, mysterious, mournful sighing;
And thus my spirit sings to me
While years are flying, flying, flying:
    "Be sad, be sad, thou hast no choice,
      But mourn with music in thy voice."


        Cailleach Bein-y-Vreich.

Weird wife of Bein-y-Vreich! horo! horo!
    Aloft in the mist she dwells;
Vreich horo! Vreich horo! Vreich horo!
    All alone by the lofty wells.

Weird, weird wife! with the long gray locks,
    She follows her fleet-foot stags,
Noisily moving through splintered rocks,
    And crashing the grisly crags.

Tall wife, with the long gray hose! in haste
    The rough stony beach she walks;
But dulse or seaweed she will not taste,
    Nor yet the green kail stalks.


OI will not let my herd of deer,
    My bonny red deer go down;
I will not let them go down to the shore,
    To feed on the sea-shells brown.

Oh, better they love in the corrie's recess,
    Or on mountain top to dwell,
And feed by my side on the green, green cress,
    That grows by the lofty well.

Broad Bein-y-Vreich is grisly and drear,
    But wherever my feet have been
The well-springs start for my darling deer,
    And the grass grows tender and green.

And there high up on the calm nights clear,
    Beside the lofty spring,
They come to my call, and I milk them there,
    And a weird wild song I sing.

But when hunter men round my dun deer prowl,
    I will not let them nigh;
Through the rended cloud I cast one scowl,
    They faint on the heath and die.

And when the north wind o'er the desert bare
    Drives load, to the corries below
I drive my herds down, and bield them there
    From the drifts of the blinding snow.

Then I mount the blast and we ride full fast,
    And laugh as we stride the storm,
I, and the witch of the Cruachan Ben,
    And the scowling-eyed Seul-Gorm.


            An Old Tale of Three.

Ah bonnie darling, lift your dark eyes dreaming!
See, the firelight fills the gloaming, though deep darkness
        grows without--

Hush, dear, hush, I hear the sea-birds screaming,
And down beyond the haven the tide comes with a shout!

Ah, birdeen, sweetheart, sure he is not coming,
He who has your hand in fee, while I have all your

Hush dear, hush, I hear the wild bees humming
Far away in the underworld where true love shall not part!

Darling, darling, darling, all the world is singing,
Singing, singing, singing a song of joy for me!

Hush, dear, hush, what wild sea-wind is bringing
Gloom o' the sea about thy brow, athwart the eyes of thee?

Ah, heart o' me, darling, darling, all my heart's aflame!
Sure, at the last we are all in all, all in all we two!

At the Door,

This is the way I take my own, this is the boon I claim!

(Later, in the dark, the living brooding beside the dead:--)

Sure, at the last, ye are all in all, all in all, ye two--
Ah, hell of my heart! Ye are dust to me--and dust
        with dust may woo!

(From the Gaelic,
Western Isles.)

Lost Love.

My heart! my pulse! my flame!
    O the gloom, O the pain!
He has no wish to save me
    Who will not come again.

Love! Love! Love!
    The fair cheek, the dark hair,
The promise forgotten;
    'Twill go with me there.

False! false! fasle!
    O, youth is false for ever
He loves far more than living me--
    The lifeless heather.

The hunting field,
    The greenwood tree,
The trout, the running deer, he loves,
    Far more than me.

He loves--loves--loves
    To stalk the frightened doe
He never heeds the pain he gives,
    His skill to show.

O, the dark blue eye--
    A flower wet with dew
O, the fair false face--
    Too sweet to view!

Love! Love! Love!
    The fair cheek, the dark hair!
For him I'd scale the walls of hell
    Gin he were there!

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