Lyra Celtica

IRISH (Modern and Contemporary) cont'd


Herring is King.

Let all the fish that swim the sea,
    Salmon and turbot, cod and ling,
Bow down the head and bend the knee
    To herring, their king! to herring, their king!

                Sing, Hugamar féin an sowra lin',
                'Tis we have brought the summer in.*

The sun sank down so round and red
    Upon the bay, upon the bay;
The sails shook idly overhead,
    Becalmed we lay, becalmed we lay;

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

Till Shawn the eagle dropped on deck,
    The bright-eyed boy, the bright-eyed boy;
'Tis he has spied your silver track,
    Herring, our joy, herring, our joy;

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

It is in with the sails and away to shore,
    With the rise and swing, the rise and swing
Of two stout lads at each smoking oar,
    After herring, our king! herring, our king.

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

The Manx and Cornish raised the shout,
    And joined the chase, and joined the chase;
But their fleets they fouled as they went about,
    And we won the race, we won the race;

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

*The second line to the refrain translates the first.

For we turned and faced you full to land,
    Down the góleen* long, the góleen long,
And after you slipped from strand to strand
    Our nets so strong, our nets so strong

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

Then we called to our sweethearts and our wives,
    "Come welcome us home, welcome us home,"
Till they ran to meet us for their lives
    Into the foam, into the foam;

                Sing, Hugamar, etc.

O kissing of hands and waving of caps
    From girl and boy, from girl and boy,
While you leapt by scores in the lasses' laps,
    Herring our joy, herring our joy!

                Sing, Hugamar féin an sowra lin',
                'Tis we have brought the summer in!

            The Rose of Kenmare.

                I've been soft in a small way
                On the girleens of Galway,
And the Limerick lasses have made me feel quare;
                But there's no use denyin',
                No girl I've set eye on
Could compate wid Rose Ryan of the town of Kenmare.

                        O, where
                 Can her like be found?
                        No where,
                The country round,
                Spins at her wheel
                        Daughter as true,
                Sets in the reel,
                        Wid a slide of the shoe
                               a slanderer,
                               wittier colleen than you,
                        Rose, aroo!

                Her hair mocks the sunshine,
                And the soft, silver moonshine
Neck and arm of the colleen completely eclipse;
                Whilst the nose of the jewel
                Slants straight as Carran Tual
From the heaven in her eye to her heather-sweet lip.

                            O, where, etc.

                Did your eyes ever follow
                The wings of the swallow
Here and there, light as air, o'er the meadow field glance?
                For if not you've no notion
                Of the exquisite motion
Of her sweet little feet as they dart in the dance.

                                O, where, etc.

                If y' inquire why the nightingale
                Still shuns th' invitin' gale
That wafts every song-bird but her to the West,
                Faix she knows, I suppose,
                Ould Kenmare has a Rose
That would sing any Bulbul to sleep in her nest.

                                O, where, etc.

                When her voice gives the warnin'
                For the milkin' in the mornin'
Ev'n the cow known for homin', comes runnin' to her pail;
                The lambs play about her
                And the small bonneens* snout her
Whilst their parints salute her wid a twisht of the tail.

                                O, where, etc.

                When at noon from our labour
                We draw neighbour wid neighbour
From the heat of the sun to the shelter of the tree,
                Wid spuds** fresh from the bilin',
                And new milk, you come smilin',
All the boys' hearts beguilin', alannah machree!***

                                O, where, etc.

                But there's one sweeter hour
                When the hot day is o'er,
And we rest at the door wid the bright moon above,
                And she's sittin' in the middle,
                When she's guessed Larry's riddle,
Cries, "Now for your fiddle, Shiel Dhuv, Shiel Dhuv."
                                O, where
                    Can her like be found?
                                No where,
                    The country round,
                    Spins at her wheel
                                Daughter as true,
                    Sets in the reel,
                                Wid a slide of the shoe
                                                    a slanderer,
                                                    wittier colleen than you,
                                   Rose, aroo!
***My heart's delight.    

The Song of the Pratee.

When after the Winter alarmin',
The Spring steps in so charmin'
        So fresh and arch
        In the middle of March,
Wid her hand St Patrick's arm on,
Let us all, let us all be goin',
Agra, to assist at your sowin',
        The girls to spread
        Your iligant bed,
And the boys to set the hoe in.


Then good speed to your seed! God's grace and increase.
    Never more in our need may you blacken wid the blight;
But when summer is o'er, in our gardens, asthore,
    May the fruit at your root fill our bosoms wid delight.

                So rest and sleep, my jewel,
                Safe from the tempest cruel;
                    Till violets spring
                    And skylarks sing
                From Mourne to Carran Tual.
                Then wake and build your bower,
                Through April sun and shower,
                    To bless the earth
                    That gave you birth,
                Through many a sultry hour.


Then good luck to your leaf. And ochone, ologone,
    Never more to our grief may it blacken wid the blight;
But when summer is o'er, in our gardens, asthore,
    May the fruit at your root fill our bosoms wid delight.

Thus smile with glad increasin',
Till to St John we're raisin',
        Through Erin's isle
        The pleasant pile
That sets the bonfire blazin'.
O 'tis then that the midsummer fairy,
Abroad on his sly vagary,
        Wid purple and white,
        As he passes by night,
Your emerald leaf shall vary.


Then more power to your flower, and your merry green leaf!
    Never more to our grief may they blacken wid the blight;
But when summer is o'er, in our gardens, asthore,
    May the fruit at your root fill our bosoms wid delight.

And once again Mavourneen,
Some yellow autumn mornin,
        At red sunrise
        Both girls and boys
To your garden ridge we're tumin',
Then under your foliage fadin'
Each man of us sets his spade in,
        While the colleen bawn
        Her brown kishane*
Full up wid your fruit is ladin'.


Then good luck to your leaf! more power to your flower!
    Never more to our grief may they blacken wid the blight
But when summer is o'er, in our gardens, asthore,
    May the fruit at your root fill our bosoms wid delight.
*A large basket carried on the back.

Irish Lullaby.

I'd rock my own sweet childie to rest in a cradle of
    gold on a bough of the willow,
To the shoheen ho of the wind of the west and the
    lulla lo of the soft sea billow.
                Sleep, baby dear,
                Sleep without fear,
    Mother is here beside your pillow.

I'd put my own sweet childie to sleep in a silver boat
    on the beautiful river,
Where a shoheen whisper the white cascades, and a
    lulla lo the green flags shiver.
                Sleep, baby dear,
                Sleep without fear,
    Mother is here with you for ever.

Lulla lo! to the rise and fall of mother's bosom 'tis
    sleep has bound you,
And O, my child, what cosier nest for rosier rest could
    love have found you?
                Sleep, baby dear,
                Sleep without fear,
    Mother's two arms are clasped around you.


Eileen Aroon.

When, like the early rose,
                Eileen Aroon!
Beauty in childhood blows,
                Eileen Aroon!
When, like a diadem,
Buds blush around the stem,
Which is the fairest gem?
                Eileen Aroon!

Is it the laughing eye,
                Eileen Aroon!
Is it the timid sigh,
                Eileen Aroon!
Is it the tender tone,
Soft as the stringed harp's moan?
Oh!Iit is truth alone,
                Eileen Aroon!

When, like the rising day,
                Eileen Aroon!
Love sends his early ray,
                Eileen Aroon!
What makes his dawning glow,
Changeless through joy or woe?
Only the constant know--
                Eileen Aroon!

I know a valley fair,
                Eileen Aroon!
I knew a cottage there,
                Eileen Aroon!
Far in that valley's shade
I knew a gentle maid,
Flower of a hazel glade,
                Eileen Aroon!

Who in the song so sweet?
                Eileen Aroon!
Who in the dance so fleet?
                Eileen Aroon!
Dear were her charms to me,
Dearer her laughter free,
Dearest her constancy,
                Eileen Aroon!

Were she no longer true,
                Eileen Aroon!
What should her lover do?
                Eileen Aroon!
Fly with his broken chain
Far o'er the sounding main,
Never to love again,
                Eileen Aroon!

Youth must with time decay,
                Eileen Aroon!
Beauty must fade away,
                Eileen Aroon!
Castles are sacked in war,
Chieftains are scattered far,
Truth is a fixéd star,
                Eileen Aroon!


The Dark Man.

Rose o' the world, she came to my bed
And changed the dreams of my heart and head:
For joy of mine she left grief of hers
And garlanded me with the prickly furze.

Rose o' the world, they go out and in,
And watch me dream and my mother spin:
And they pity the tears on my sleeping face
While my soul's away in a fairy place.

Rose o' the world, they have words galore,
For wide's the swing of my mother's door:
And soft they speak of my darkened brain,
But what do they know of my heart's dear pain

Rose o' the world, the grief you give
Is worth all days that a man may live:
Is worth all prayers that the colleens say
On the night that darkens the wedding-day.

Rose o' the world, what man would wed
When he might remember your face instead?
Might go to his grave with the blessed pain
Of hungering after your face again?

Rose o' the world, they may talk their fill,
But dreams are good, and my life stands still
While the neighbours talk by their fires astir:
But my fiddle knows: and I talk to her.

April in Ireland.

She hath a woven garland all of the sighing sedge,
And all her flowers are snowdrops grown on the winter's edge:
The golden looms of Tir na n' Og wove all the winter through
Her gown of mist and raindrops shot with a cloudy blue.

Sunlight she holds in one hand, and rain she scatters after,
And through the rainy twilight we hear her fitful laughter.
She shakes down on her flowers the snows less white than they,
Then quicken with her kisses the folded "knots ol May."

She seeks the summer-lover that never shall be hers,
Fain for gold leaves of autumn she passes by the furze,
Though buried gold it hideth: she scorns her sedgy crown,
And pressing blindly sunwards she treads her snowdrops down.

Her gifts are all a fardel of wayward smiles and tears,
Yet hope she also holdeth, this daughter of the years--
A hope that blossoms faintly set upon sorrow's edge:
She hath a woven garland of all the sighing sedge.

The Wind Among the Reeds.

Mavrone, Mavrone! the wind among the reeds.
    It calls and cries, and will not let me be
And all its cry is of forgotten deeds
    When men were loved of all the Daoine-Sidhe.

O Shee that have forgotten how to love,
    And Shee that have forgotten how to hate,
Asleep 'neath quicken boughs that no winds move,
    Come back to us ere yet it be too late.

Pipe to us once again, lest we forget
    What piping means, till all the Silver Spears
Be wild with gusty music, such as met
    Carolan once, amid the dusty years.

Dance in your rings again: the yellow weeds
    You used to ride so far, mount as of old--
Play hide-and-seek with wind among the reeds,
    And pay your scores again with fairy gold.


My Grief on the Sea.

My grief on the sea,
    How the waves of it roll!
For they heave between me
    And the love of my soul!

Abandoned, forsaken,
    To grief and to care,
Will the sea ever waken
    Relief from despair?

My grief, and my trouble!
    Would he and I wear,
In the province of Leinster,
    Or County of Clare.

Were I and my darling--
    O, heart-bitter wound!--
On the board of the ship
    For America bound.

On a green bed of rushes
    All last night I lay,
And I flung it abroad
    With the heat of the day.

And my love came behind me--
    He came from the South;
His breast to my bosom
    His mouth to my mouth.

                The Cooleen.

A honey mist on a day of frost, in a dark oak wood,
And love for thee in my heart in me, thou bright, white, and good;
Thy slender form, soft and warm, thy red lips apart,
Thou hast found me, and hast bound me, and put grief in my heart.

In fair-green and market, men mark thee, bright, young, and merry,
Though thou hurt them like foes with the rose of thy blush of the berry:
Her cheeks are a poppy, her eye it is Cupid's helper,
But each foolish man dreams that its beams for himself are.

Whoe'er saw the Cooleen in a cool, dewy meadow
On a morning in summer in sunshine and shadow;
All the young men go wild for her, my childeen, my treasure,
But now let them go mope, they've no hope to possess her.

Let us roam, O my darling, afar through the mountains,
Drink milk of the goat, wine and bulcaun in fountains;
With music and play every day from my lyre,
And leave to come rest on my breast when you tire.

        The Breedyeen.

'Tis the Breedyeen I love,
All dear ones above,
    Like a star from the start
    Round my heart she did move.
Her breast like a dove,
Or the foam in the cove,
    With her gold locks apart,
    In my heart she put love.

'Tis not Venus, I say,
Who grieved me this day,
    But the white one, the bright one,
    Who slighted my stay.
For her I shall pray--
I confess it--for aye,
    She's my sister, I missed her,
    When all men were gay.

To the hills let us go,
Where the raven and crow
    In dark dismal valleys
    Croak death-like and low;
By this volume I swear,
O bright Cool of fair hair,
    That though solitude shrieked
    I should seek for thee there.

To the hills let us go,
Where the raven and crow
    In the dark dismal valleys
    Wing silent and slow.
There's no joy in men's fate
But Grief grins in the gate;
    There's no Fair without Foul,
    Without Crooked no Straight.

Her neck like the lime
And her breath like the thyme,
    And her bosom untroubled
    By care or by time.
Like a bird in the night,
At a great blaze of light,
    Astounded and wounded
    I swoon at her sight.

Since I gave thee my love,
I gave thee my love,
    I gave thee my love,
    O thou berry so bright;
The sun in her height
Looked on with delight,
    And between thy two arms, may
    I die on the night.

And I would that I were
In the glens of the air,
    Or in dark dismal valleys
    Where the wildwood is bare,
What a kiss from her there
I should coax without care,
    From my star of the morning,
    My fairer than fair!

Like a Phoenix of flame,
Or like Helen of fame,
    Is the pearl of all pearls
    Of girls who came,
And who kindled a flame,
In my bosom. Thy name
    I shall rhyme thee in Irish
    And heighten thy fame.

Nelly of the Top-Knots.

Dear God! were I fisher and
    Back in Binédar,
And Nelly a fish who
    Would swim in the bay there,
I would privately set there
    My net there to catch her,
In Erin no maiden
    Is able to match her.

And Nelly, dear God!
    Why! you should not thus flee me,
I long to be near thee
    And hear thee and see thee,
My hand on the Bible
    And I swearing and kneeling
And giving thee part
    Of the heart you are stealing.

I've a fair yellow casket
    And it fastened with crystal,
And the lock opens not
    To the shot of a pistol.
To Jesus I pray
    And to Columbkill's Master,
That Mary may guide thee
    Aside from disaster.

We may be, O maiden
    Whom none may disparage,
Some morning a-hearing
    The sweet mass of marriage,
But if fate be against us,
    To rend us and push us,
I shall mourn as the blackbird
    At eve in the bushes.

O God, were she with me
    Where the gull flits and tern,
Or in Paris the smiling,
    Or an Isle in Loch Erne,
I would coax her so well,
    I would tell her my story,
And talk till I won her,
    My sunshine of glory.

I shall not Die for Thee.

For thee I shall not die,
    Woman high of fame and name;
Foolish men thou mayest slay
    I and they are not the same.

Why should I expire
    For the fire of any eye,
Slender waist or swan-like limb,
    Is't for them that I should die?

The round breasts, the fresh skin,
    Cheeks crimson, hair so long and rich;
Indeed, indeed, I shall not die,
    Please God, not I, for any such.

The golden hair, the forehead thin,
    The chaste mien, the gracious ease,
The rounded heel, the languid tone,
    Fools alone find death from these.

Thy sharp wit, thy perfect calm,
    Thy thin palm like foam o' the sea;
Thy white neck, thy blue eye,
    I shall not die for thee.

Woman, graceful as the swan,
    A wise man did nurture me,
Little palm, white neck, bright eye,
    I shall not die for ye.


        The Red Wind.

Red Wind from out the East:
    Red Wind of blight and blood!
Ah, when wilt thou have ceased
    Thy bitter, stormy flood?

Red Wind from over sea,
    Scourging our holy land!
What angel loosened thee
    Out of his iron hand?

Red Wind! whose word of might
    Winged thee with wings of flame?
O fire of mournful night!
    What is thy Master's name?

Red Wind! who bade thee burn,
    Branding our hearts? Who bade
Thee on and never turn
    Till waste our souls were laid?

Red Wind! from out the West
    Pour Winds of Paradise:
Winds of eternal rest,
    That weary souls entice.

Wind of the East! Red Wind!
    Thou scorchest the soft breath
Of Paradise the kind:
    Red Wind of burning death!

O Red Wind! I hear God's voice:
    Hear thou, and fall, and cease.
Let Innisfail rejoice
    In her Hesperian peace.

        To Morfydd.

A voice on the winds,
A voice on the waters,
        Wanders and cries:
O what are the winds?
And what are the waters?
        Mine are your eyes.

Western the winds are,
And western the waters,
        Where the light lies:
O what are the winds?
And what are the waters?
        Mine are your eyes.

Cold, cold grow the winds,
And dark grow the waters,
        Where the sun dies:
O what are the winds?
And what are the waters?
        Mine are your eyes.

And down the night winds,
And down the night waters
        The music flies:
O what are the winds?
And what are the waters?
Cold be the winds,
And wild be the waters,
        So mine be your eyes.

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