Lyra Celtica

IRISH   (Modern and Contemporary), cont'd


A Lament.

Youth's bright palace
Is overthrown,
With its diamond sceptre
And golden throne;
As a time-worn stone
Its turrets are humbled,--
All hath crumbled
But grief alone!

Whither, oh! whither
Have fled away
The dreams and hopes
Of my early day?
Ruined and grey
Are the towers I builded;
And the beams that gilded--
Ah! where are they?

Once this world
Was fresh and bright,
With its golden noon
And its starry night;
Glad and light,
By mountain and river,
Have I blessed the Giver
With hushed delight.

Youth's illusions,
One by one,
Have passed like clouds
That the sun looked on.
While morning shone,
How purple their fringes!
How ashy their tinges
When that was gone!

As fire-flies fade
When the nights are damp--
As meteors are quenched
In a stagnant swamp--
Thus Charlemagne's camp,
Where the Paladins rally,
And the Diamond Valley,
And the Wonderful Lamp,

And all the wonders
Of Ganges and Nile,
And Haroun's rambles,
And Crusoe's isle,
And Princes who smile
On the Genii's daughters
'Neath the Orient waters
Full many a mile,

And all that the pen
Of Fancy can write,
Must vanish
In manhood's misty light
Squire and Knight,
And damosels' glances,
Sunny romances
So pure and bright!

These have vanished,
And what remains?
Life's budding garlands
Have turned to chains--
Its beams and rains
Feed but docks and thistles,
And sorrow whistles
O'er desert plains!


                The Fair Hills of Eiré, O!
(After the Irish of DONOGH MAC CON-MARA.)

Take a blessing from my heart to the land of my birth,
            And the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
And to all that yet survive of Eibhear's tribe on earth,
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
In that land so delightful the wild thrush's lay--
Seems to pour a lament forth for Eir6's delay--
Alas! alas! why pine I a thousand miles away
            From the fair Hills of Eiré, O!

The soil is rich and soft-the air is mild and bland,
            Of the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
Her barest rock is greener to me than this rude land--
            O! the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
Her woods are tall and straight, grove rising over grove;
Trees flourish in her glens below, and on her heights above;
O, in heart and in soul, I shall ever, ever love
            The fair Hills of Eiré, O!

A noble tribe, moreover, are the now hapless Gael,
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
A tribe in Battle's hour unused to shrink or fail
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
For this is my lament in bitterness outpoured,
To see them slain or scattered by the Saxon sword.
Oh, woe of woes, to see a foreign spoiler horde
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!

Broad and tall rise the cruachs in the golden morning's glow
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
O'er her smooth grass for ever sweet cream and honey flow
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
O, I long, I am pining, again to behold
The land that belongs to the brave Gael of old
Far dearer to my heart than a gift of gems or gold
            Are the fair Hills of Eiré, O!

The dewdrops lie bright 'mid the grass and yellow corn
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
And the sweet-scented apples blush redly in the morn
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
The water-cress and sorrel fill the vales below
The streamlets are hushed, till the evening breezes blow;
While the waves of the Suir, noble river! ever flow
            Near the fair Hills of Eiré, O!

A fruitful clime is Eiré's, through valley, meadow, plain,
            And the fair land of Eiré, O!
The very "Bread of Life" is in the yellow grain
            On the fair Hills of Eiré, O!
Far dearer unto me than the tones music yields,
Is the lowing of her kine and the calves in her fields,
And the sunlight that shone long ago on the shields
            Of the Gaels, on the fair Hills of Eiré, O!

    Dark Rosaleen.

O my dark Rosaleen,
    Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
    They march along the Deep.
There's wine . . . . from the royal Pope,
    Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
    My dark Rosaleenl
    My own Rosaleenl
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
    My dark Rosaleen.

Over hills, and through dales,
    Have I roamed for your sake;
All yesterday I sailed with sails
    On river and on lake.
The Erne . . . . at its highest flood,
    I dashed across unseen,
For there was lightning in my blood,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
Oh! there was lightning in my blood,
Red lightning lightened through my blood,
    My dark Rosaleen!

All day long in unrest,
    To and fro do I move,
The very soul within my breast
    Is wasted for you, love!
The heart . . . . in my bosom faints
    To think of you my Queen,
My life of life, my saint of saints,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
To hear your sweet and sad complaints,
My life, my love, my saint of saints,
    My dark Rosaleen!

Woe and pain, pain and woe,
    Are my lot, night and noon,
To see your bright face clouded so,
    Like to the mournful moon.
But yet . . . . will I rear your throne
    Again in golden sheen;
'Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
'Tis you shall have the golden throne,
'Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone,
    My dark Rosaleen!

Over dews, over sands,
    Will I fly, for your weal:
Your holy delicate white hands
    Shall girdle me with steel.
At home . . . . in your emerald bowers,
    From morning's dawn till e'en,
You'll pray for me, my flower of flowers,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
You'll think of me through Daylight's hours,
My virgin flower, my flower of flowers,
    My dark Rosaleen!

I could scale the blue air,
    I could plough the high hills,
Oh, I could kneel all night in prayer,
    To heal your many ills!
And one . . . . beamy smile from you
    Would float the light between
My toils and me, my own, my true,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
Would give me life and soul anew,
A second life, a soul anew,
    My dark Rosaleen!

O! the Erne shall run red
    With redundance of blood,
The earth shall rock beneath our tread,
    And flames wrap hill and wood,
And gun-peal, and slogan cry,
    Wake many a glen serene,
Ere you shall fade, ere you can die,
    My dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
The judgment Hour must first be nigh
Ere you can fade, ere you can die,
    My dark Rosaleen!

The One Mystery.

'Tis idle! we exhaust and squander
    The glittering mine of thought in vain
All-baffled reason cannot wander,
            Beyond her chain.
The flood of life runs dark-dark clouds
    Make lampless night around its shore
The dead, where are they? In their shrouds--
            Man knows no more.

Evoke the ancient and the past,
    Will one illumining star arise?
Or must the film, from first to last,
            O'erspread thine eyes?
When life, love, glory, beauty, wither,
    Will wisdom's page, or science chart,
Map out for thee the region whither
            Their shades depart?

Supposest thou the wondrous powers,
    To high imagination given,
Pale types of what shall yet be ours,
            When earth is heaven?
When this decaying shell is cold,
    Oh! sayest thou the soul shall climb
What magic mount she trod of old,
            Ere childhood's time?

And shall the sacred pulse that thrilled,
    Thrill once again to glory's name?
And shall the conquering love that filled
            All earth with flame,
Re-born, revived, renewed, immortal,
    Resume his reign in prouder might,
A sun beyond the ebon portal,
            Of death and night ?

No more, no more--with aching brow,
    And restless heart, and burning brain,
We ask the When, the Where, the How,
            And ask in vain.
And all philosophy, all faith,
    All earthly--all celestial lore,
Have but one voice, which only saith


    The Wild Geese.

I had no sail to cross the sea,
A brave white bird went forth from me,
My heart was hid beneath his wing:
O strong white bird, come back in spring!

I watched the Wild Geese rise and cry
Across the flaring western sky;
Their winnowing pinions clove the light,
Then vanished, and came down the night.

I laid me low, my day was done,
I longed not for the morrow's sun,
But closely swathed in swoon of sleep,
Forgot to hope, forgot to weep.

The moon, through veils of gloomy red,
A warm yet dusky radiance shed
All down our valley's golden stream
And flushed my slumber with a dream.

Her mystic torch lit up my brain
My spirit rose and lived amain,
And follow through the windy spray
That bird upon its watery way.

"O wild white bird, O wail for me!
My soul hath wings to fly with thee:
On foam waves, lengthening out afar,
We'll ride toward the western star.

"O'er glimmering plains, through forest gloom,
To track a wanderer's feet I come;
'Mid lonely swamp, by haunted brake,
I'll pass unfrighted for his sake.

"Alone, afar, his footsteps roam,
The stars his roof, the tent his home.
Saw'st thou what way the Wild Geese flew
To sunward through the thick night dew?

"Carry my soul where he abides,
And pierce the mystery that hides
His presence, and through time and space
Look with mine eyes upon his face."

"Beside his prairie fire he rests,
All feathered things are in their nests:
'What strange wild bird is this,' he saith,
'Still fragrant with the ocean's breath?

"'Perch on my hand, thou briny thing,
And let me stroke thy shy wet wing;
What message in thy soft eye thrills?
I see again my native hills

"'And vale, the river's silver streak,
The mist upon the blue, blue peak,
The shadows grey, the golden sheaves,
The mossy walls, the russet eaves.

'I greet the friends I've loved and lost,
Do all forget? No, tempest-tost,
That braved for me the ocean's foam,
Some heart remembers me at home.

"Ere spring's return I will be there,
Thou strange sea-fragrant messenger!
I wake and weep; the moon shines sweet,
O dream too short! O bird too fleet!"'


Lament for a Little Child.

I am lying in the tomb, love,
Lying in the tomb,
Tho' I move within the gloom, love,
Breathe within the gloom!
Men deem life not fled, dear,
Deem my life not fled,
Tho' I with thee am dead, dear,
I with thee am dead,
O my little child!

What is the grey world, darling,
What is the grey world,
Where the worm lies curled, darling,
The death-worm lies curled?
They tell me of the spring, dear
Do I want the spring?
Will she waft upon her wing, dear,
The joy-pulse of her wing,
Thy songs, thy blossoming,
O my little child!

For the hallowing of thy smile, love,
The rainbow of thy smile,
Gleaming for a while, love,
Gleaming to beguile,
Re-plunged me in the cold, dear,
Leaves me in the cold,
And I feel so very old, dear,
Very, very old!

Would they put me out of pain, dear,
Out of all my pain,
Since I may not live again, dear,
Never live again!

I am lying in the grave, love,
In thy little grave,
Yet I hear the wind rave, love,
And the wild wave!
I would lie asleep, darling,
With thee lie asleep,
Unhearing the world weep, darling,
Little children weep!
O my little child!

The Swimmer.

Yonder, lo! the tide is flowing;
Clamber, while the breeze is blowing,
Down to where a soft foam flusters
Dulse and fairy feathery clusters!
While it fills the shelly hollows,
A swift sister-billow follows,
Leaps in hurrying with the tide,
Seems the lingering wave to chide;
Both push on with eager life,
And a gurgling show of strife.
O the salt, refreshing air
Shrilly blowing in the hair!
A keen, healthful savour haunts
Sea-shell, sea-flower, and sea-plants.
Innocent billows on the strand
Leave a crystal over sand,
Whose thin ebbing soon is crossed
By a crystal foam-enmossed,
Variegating silver-grey
Shell-empetalled sand in play:
When from sand dries off the brine,
Vanishes swift shadow fine;
But a wet sand is a glass
Where the plumy cloudlets pass,
Floating islands of the blue,
Tender, shining, fair, and true.

Who would linger idle,
Dallying would lie,
When wind and wave, a bridal
Celebrating, fly?
Let him plunge among them,
Who hath wooed enough,
Flirted with them, sung them,
In the salt sea-trough
He may win them, onward
On a buoyant crest,
Far to seaward, sunward,
Ocean-borne to rest!
Wild wind will sing over him,
And the free foam cover him,
Swimming seaward, sunward,
On a blithe sea-breast!
On a blithe sea-bosom
Swims another too,
Swims a live sea-blossom,
A grey-winged sea-mew!
Grape-green all the waves are,
By whose hurrying line
Half of ships and caves are
Buried under brine;
Supple, shifting ranges
Lucent at the crest,
With pearly surface-changes
Never laid to rest:
Now a dipping gunwale
Momently he sees,
Now a fuming funnel,
Or red flag in the breeze
Arms flung open wide,
Lip the laughing sea;
For playfellow, for bride,
Claim her impetuously!
Triumphantly exult with all the free,
Buoyant, bounding splendour of the sea!
And if while on the billow
Wearily he lay,
His awful wild playfellow
Filled his mouth with spray,
Reft him of his breath,
To some far realms away
He would float with Death;
Wild wind would sing over him,
And the free foam cover him,
Waft him sleeping onward,
Floating seaward, sunward,
All alone with Death;
In a realm of wondrous dreams,
And shadow-haunted ocean gleams!

        The Dance.

The dance! the dance!
Maidens advance
Your undulating charm!
A line deploys
Of gentle boys,
Waving the light arm,
Bronze, alive and warm;
Reed flute and drum
Sound as they come,
Under your eyelight warm!

Many a boy,
A dancing joy,
Many a mellow maid,
With fireflies in the shade,
Mingle and glide,
Appear and hide,
Here in a fairy glade:
Ebb and flow
To a music low,
Viol, and flute and lyre,
As melody mounts higher:
With a merry will,
They touch and thrill,
Beautiful limbs of fire!

Red berries, shells,
Over bosom-dells,
And girdles of light grass,
May never hide
The youthful pride
Of beauty, ere it pass
Yet, ah! sweet boy and lass,
Refrain, retire!
Love is a fire!
Night will pass!

From "The Water-Nymph and the Boy."

I flung me round him,
I drew him under;
I clung, I drowned him,
My own white wonder. . .

Father and mother,
Weeping and wild,
Came to the forest,
Calling the child,
Came from the palace,
Down to the pool,
Calling my darling,
My beautiful!

Under the water,
Cold and so pale!
Could it be love made
Beauty to fail?

Ah me! for mortals:
In a few moons,
If I had left him,
After some junes
He would have faded,
Faded away,
He, the young monarch, whom
All would obey,
Fairer than day;
Alien to springtime,
Joyless and grey,
He would have faded,
Faded away,
Moving a mockery,
Scorned of the day!

Now I have taken him
All in his prime,
Saved from slow poisoning
Pitiless Time,
Filled with his happiness,
One with the prime,
Saved from the cruel
Dishonour of Time,
Laid him, my beautiful,
Laid him to rest,
Loving, adorable,
Softly to rest,
Here in my crystalline,
Here in my breast!

    A Casual Song.

She sang of lovers met to play
"Under the may bloom, under the may,"
But when I sought her face so fair,
I found the set face of Despair.

She sang of woodland leaves in spring,
And joy of young love dallying;
But her young eyes were all one moan,
And Death weighed on her heart like stone.

I could not ask, I know not now,
The story of that mournful brow;
It haunts me as it haunted then,
A flash from fire of hell-bound men.

    "The Pity of it."

If our love may fail, Lily,
If our love may fail,
What will mere life avail, Lily,
Mere life avail?

Seed that promised blossom,
Withered in the mould,
Pale petals overblowing,
Failing from the gold!

When the fervent fingers
Listlessly unclose,
May the life that lingers
Find repose, Lily,
Find repose!

Who may dream of all the music
Only a lover hears,
Hearkening to hearts triumphant
Bearing down the years?
Ah! may eternal anthems dwindle
To a low sound of tears?

Room in all the ages
For our love to grow,
Prayers of both demanded
A little while ago:

And now a few poor moments,
Between life and death,
May be proven all too ample
For love's breath!

Seed that promised blossom,
Withered in the mould!
Pale petals overblowing,
Failing from the gold!

I well believe the fault lay
More with me than you,
But I feel the shadow closing
Cold about us two.

An hour may yet be yielded us,
Or a very little more--
Then a few tears, and silence
For evermore, Lily,
For evermore!

        The Old.

They are waiting on the shore
For the bark to take them home;
They will toil and grieve no more;
The hour for release hath come.

All their long life lies behind,
Like a dimly blending dream;
There is nothing left to bind
To the realms that only seem.

They are waiting for the boat,
There is nothing left to do;
What was near them grows remote,
Happy silence falls like dew;
Now the shadowy bark is come,
And the weary may go home.

By still water they would rest,
In the shadow of the tree;
After battle sleep is best,
After noise tranquillity.

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