I he UliLt LIBKAKV.-Vol. 2.
EDITED BY M. J. KEATS.
BERNARD DOYI E., FRANKLIN PRINTING WORKS, DUBLIN.
THE JAMES D. PHELAN
AND OTHER POEMS.
A FEW COPIES REIHAJNIWG.
The Iiittle Iiibpapy— Vol. I.
By IiRUt^fl JERN DOUGIiflS.
MODERATOR says : — " Some of the most exquisite prose
we have read for many a day."
IRISH NEWS (Belfast) says:— "In the ten 'Idylls' which
Miss Douglas contributes, we have a group of the sweetest
prose poetry possible. ... A gallery of lovely pictures.
. . . A thing of beauty and a joy for ever. . . . The
turn-out of the book is equal to anything of the same kind
produced in London." -
MRS. ALICE A. PITMAN, author of "TALES FROM
LONDON LIFE," says :— " The pieties are beautifully con-
ceived, and elegantly portrayed."
IRISH FIGARO says:— "I am grateful to all who essay
in a sincere spirit the difficult task of making Dublin a book-
producing place. In ' The Little Library,' author, editor,
publisher, and draughtsman have combined in an honest
endeavour to attain that desirable end. The writer of
• Idylls ' gives us ten short prose-poems, of which I take the
liberty to give the first in its entirety as a specimen. It is
entitled, 'A Rose Garden.' .... This is a beautiful
JAMES H. COUSINS says:— "Beautiful prose fancies."
IRISH DAILY INDEPENDENT sajS:—" The book is
beautifully produced, and a credit to DutjJiju"
SCOTTISH SOCIETY says :—" The wetrMy-covered little
book with the strange frontispiece which colnes to us under
the title of ' Idylls,' will be read with great i^joyment by all
whose sense of literary quality is sufficiently educated to
appreciate the extreme delicacy of word-painting in water-
colours, if it may be so expressed. ... In every sense
of the word, they are perfect representations of the idyll in
its purest form, . . . impossible to criticise, and difficult
properly to praise."
THE LITTLE LIBI\ARY.-VOL. 2.
EDITED BY M. J. KEATS.
4 « * <
Cegend or tun
JIFJind OtDer poems.
JAMES H. COUSINS.
WITH COVER DRAWN BY LOUIS H. VICTORY.
BERNARD DOYLE, FRANKLIN PRINTING WORKS,
9 Upper Ormond Quay.
" "oo ctim stome "oe
Agus ononA iiA h-emeAnn,"
TO THE COMPANION OF MY WANDERINGS
OF THE SCENES HEREIN MENTIONED,
GILDED THE SUN THAT SHINES UPON,
AND PAINTED THE FLOWERS THAT BEDECK
"FAIR HILLS OF HOLY IRELAND."
The Legend of the Blemished King — page
The Legend of Saint Mahee of Endrim 49
A Song of Decadence . .
The Railway Arch
In THE Giant's Ring, Belfast ..
The Blind Father
The Southern Cross
On the Death of William Morris
To Algernon Charles Swinburne
Heaven and Earth
On Some Twentieth Century Forecasts
Ireland , .
Wordsworth, writing a sonnet, having for its subject the
sonnet-form, said : —
" To me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the sonnet's scanty plot of ground ; "
and all those who have essayed the task of composing in this
particular form will admit that Wordsworth's definition
— "scanty plot of ground" — characterises the sonnet's
As will be observed in the following pages, Mr. Cousins
not only excels as a sonneteer ; but in " The Legend of the
Blemished King" he performs the remarkable feat of pro-
ducing a poem of classical character, containing forty-eight
stanzas, cast perfectly in the no less difficult mould known
as the Spenserian stanza — eight heroic lines, followed by an
Alexandrine, rhyming thus: — i, 3 ; 2, 4, 5, 7 ; 6, 8, g.
The subject, however more than the technique, is
remarkable. It will have an especial attraction for all
who are interested in the ancient literature of Ireland ; and,
indeed it should be of universal interest, because of the fact
that this story of Fergus bears a strong resemblance to the
Scriptural narrative of Eden and the Fall of Man. It is a
kind of allegory common to all ancient races, containing in
its heart an unobtruded moral, wrapped in dramatic incident
and decorated with charming pictures of land and sea.
It is, in short, what Fiona M'Leod would call a " legendary
The other poems are equally admirable ; and, indeed,
however considered, I think that this book should prove a
valuable addition to the best literary products of Ireland.
M. J. K.
Ulan, what King was he dwelt here of yore ?
Fergus, the son of Leide Lithe-o'-limb,
Ere yet he reigned at Eman, did dwell here,
What, Fergus Wry-mouth ? I have heard of him,
And how he came by his ill-favoured name .
Methinks I see him when he rose again
From combat with the monster, and his face,
That had that blemish till love wiped it off,
Serene and ample-featured like a King.
Not love but anger, made him fight the beast. -
No, no, I will not have it anger. Love
Prompts every deed heroic. 'Tis the fault
Of him who did compose the tale at first.
Not to have shown 'twas love unblemished him.
All Erin, shore to shore, shall ring with it
And poets in the ages yet to come
Make tales of wonder of it for the world.
" Deirdre." — Ferguson
CDe tmM or tbe
prologue : m Scrabo, Co. Down.
The rugged rock against the sky
Heaves high a tower-topped crest,
Whence widens out beneath the eye
The realms of East and West.
Here lies a land hut seldom sung, —
This crude, majestic crown.
And that white sea that moves among
The fertiU fields of Down !
Unsung I — save when an alien lyre
A moment's space was strung.
And Browning fanned a little fire,
A nd Helen's Tower was sung.
Yet storied homes of sept and clan
Are here, and, — dim and vague, —
Anear and far, Ben Madighan,
And Keats-sung Ailsa Craig I
Unsung ! — and ivkerefore ? lovely land !
Hast thou not ample stove
For song, from yonder ocean strand j
To Strangford's shining shore ?
Hast thou not throbbed to foamy fianhsy
And sound of Saxon steely
To crash of CromwelVs rattling ranks.
And Clansmen of O'Neill ?
A fid yet, not all thy songful crown
Is strife of right with wrong ;
Here, limpid lark-streams trickle down
A hundred peaks of song ;
TJiere, siletit sheep and lambkins lie —
A white, uncertain thing —
Like lingering snow that fain would spy
The secret of the spring.
The roaming robber breezes catch.
And hitlier upward float,
A lusty lilt and vagrant snatch
From some far tustic throat ;
And blustering bye, with strident sJiout,
From scenes of festive glee,
That libertine of flower and sprout,
The bacchanalian bee.
All life is song : — and song is life
To souls with these akin^
Unfettered by yon city's strife.
Unsullied by its sin I
Some part of these fair fields and coast,
Some waft of phantom wings.
Will hannt my heart, a welcome ghost,
A hint of higher things.
Dear land of love and happy lot
Of merry maids and swains.
Worthy the martial muse of Scott,
Or Virgirs pastoral strains ;
Loved land, this tongue thy song would share
This votive soul is thine :
Thy lips are loud with praise and prayer, —
Pray God they kindle mine !
Cbe Cedend or tl)e BIcmisDed King.
[Note: — I am indebted to "The Ecclesiastical History
of Down and Connor," by Rev. James O'Laverty, for the
story of the "Blemished King." Believing it to be com-
paratively unknown, and desiring, as far as lay in my
power, to spread a knowledge of the interesting stories
and legends which abound in Irish History and Literature,
I translated it into verse. I learn, however, that a poem on
the same subject has been written by the late Sir Samuel
Ferguson, under the title of " Fergus Wry-mouth." I
can only plead justification for running the inevitable
gauntlet of comparison between a giant and a pigmy, on
the ground that I had already committed myself to the
publication of the present version of the legend before I
became aware of the fact mentioned. I have not read the
poem by Sir Samuel Ferguson, and I shall not do so
until after this volume is in print ; but I have written
Lady Ferguson on the matter, and she very kindly refuses
to see any possible objection to the publication of my
rendering of the story, seeing that it contains almost as
many stanzas as there are lines in Sir Samuel's.
The Loch of Rory (Uut)|\Ai'6e), the centre around which
the following story moves, is Dundrum Bay. That bay is
still remarkable for its roar, which has been frequently
referred to by ancient writers. Even a modern poet
(S. K. Cowan, in " Sung by Six") has written of the bay,
" where deep seas moan." Other evidences point to the
identity of Rory and Dundrum, in opposition to the con-
jectures of some that the present Belfast Lough was the
scene of the incidents contained in the "Legend of the
Blemished King." — The Author.]
Eastward in Eireann lay the Lough of Rory.
The Moon, like some pale huntress, landward led
Her white-toothed hounds betwixt the promontory
And its far twin. Thither King Fergus sped
Within his chariot. High his shaggy head
Clove thro' the dusky clouds his chargers made ;
And o'er his shoulders, far behind him, spread
Loose locks, and circling cloak, in which arrayed
He, with benignant arm, Ultonia's sceptre swayed.
Beside him stood his suremost charioteer,
(Muena, faithful bondsman of his lord,
Favoured in form, and swift of eye and ear).
Urging with well-skilled hand and timely word
The flying steeds. The seaward-soaring bird
Seemed fixed in Heaven, so swift they sped : the
Lumbered behind, as high the sand they stirred.
And echoes of their wheels that edged the spray
Rolled thro' the silent hills like thunder far away !
Onward they whirled. The billows on the beach
Drew backward in amaze, then, bolder grown,
Sprang forward to the chase, but far from reach
The phantom bounded on o'er sand and stone ;
Till the low clouds that late-born winds had
About the hills, upon the chariot's flight
Drew down their brows ; or was it they had
Thro' dalliant day into a former night
That now, with jealous hand, hid shore and sea
from sight ?
Then when the day had rallied all its forces, —
A splash of glory in a murky west, —
Obedient, where it pleased (like men), the horses
Slackened their speed, and paused, and stood at
" Thus far, O King ! fulfilled is thy behest,"
Muena said. To whom the King : " To thee
And me 'twere Heaven in Night's soft arms
To sleep." — They slept. — Without, that smith, the
On adamantine anvils shaped new shores to be.
Who knoweth not the spell that lurks in twilight ? —
When mystic murmurs float across the world
From strange, vague forms that hate the brazen
Of day, and sleep in hidden corners curled
Till, westward, day has nigh his banner furled.
Then fare they forth : rich spoil, in sooth, they
Where Fergus had his mighty figure hurled
Upon the chariot's floor. They drew around.
Plucked from its sheath his sword, and bore him
to the ground,
Thence to the verge of ocean. Fairy elves,
A thousand strong, the toilsome task essayed ;
While twice a thousand, perched on rocky shelves,
A wierd accomp'niment of laughter made
(Timed to their phantom forms that swung and
So sweet the sound, 'twould seem the winds, at rest
For once from warring, 'mong the treetops
Till, lo, the King, so close they round him prest,
Woke, and a struggling trio clasped upon his
*' Life for thy life," they cried : ** have mercy,
King ! "
Swift to his feet he sprang. The fairy throng
Vanished Hke vapour, save where, in the ring
Of his tight-clasping arms, as swift along
The dim-seen beach he strode the stones among,
The wriggling remnant of the elvish crew
Craved mercy. — " Mercy doth to thee belong,
And ours in turn to render service due."
Clasping them in his arms he toward his chariot
There lay Muena, wrapt in peaceful sleep,
Nor woke the King his bondsman ; but did say
To those he held his captives : " Through the deep,
And under, give me knowledge of the way,
Unfearful of the power of wave or spray.
This shall ye grant and live." " O King, such
Thus said the elves, *' sweeps not beyond our
So shall be thine, ere swings another moon,
Skill meet to dare the depths of river and lagoon,
"Save Rory, whence thou earnest ; that shalt thou
Ne'er ruffle with thy foot : within its wide
Impassioned breast, from day's first dawn till now,
And still from now till dawn's last day, has plied,
And still shall ply, the spirit of the tide
His secret craft. Nor thou nor human kind
Shall scan his face and live. All else beside
Is thine when Earth 's again to Day resigned,
\^'hose advent now is blown on trumpets of the
So when the morn, like Virtue's cheek red-blushing
For night's black deeds, from couch of cloud
Ere yet were heard hoarse caws and dark wings
Athwart the sun, when trailing lines of crows
Hasten to haunts far off that no man knows,
Beside the sea stood King and charioteer
To take the waves' great secret now from those
In promise bound, who stand apart, yet near.
Where wavelets lift and lay, as if some word to
Then spake the first of fairies : " O great King,
Thy life was ours — we spared it ; ours was thine
And thou didst spare us, yet encompassing
Thy deed with obligation, line on line,
And promise holding promise, — me and mine
To do, and thou to do not. Now the hour
Hath come — as ne'er before — when billow and
Yield to a mortal every whit of power —
Save one — how suns soe'er may shine or clouds
Low bowed the Monarch his assenting head.
The elfin chieftain swiftly drew anear
Doffing his hood, long-trailing, ruby red.
Lo ! on the King 'tis placed. In either ear
They plant sweet spices, herbs, anointing clear ;
And -vyeird enchantments drown the muffled roar
Of throbbing ocean. Then the charioteer
Beholds his master pass the waters o'er,
And stands, a lonely man upon a lonely shore.
Day brightened in the East, and o'er the waters
The round sun rose and threw across the wave
A lambent flame, blood-red, as though from
In Orient lands. The breaking surf did lave
Mugna's feet : he, wrapt in wonderings grave,
Looked long and wistful, such as lovers do
To greet their love. At length the wondering
Saw on the deep a form that neared, and grew.
And stepped upon the beach — the King returned
Thenceforth, King Fergus, strong in power new
Recked not a restful hour, but, passion-fired,
And strong in strength un'customed, night and
Probed to the farthest deeps his soul desired.
At such swift speed too soon his soul acquired
The sum of knowledge granted. " All below,"
So spake the King, '* to which I have aspired
Is mine, — that earth or ocean can bestow.
Save one, whose secret fain my mind would grasp
So chafe Restriction's fetters. So within
Dwelleth for ever ancient Adam's will.
Sweet though the tasted fruit, the fruit unseen.
Or seen but yet forbid, is sweeter still.
Lord of the land, of river, vale, and hill,
King Fergus stood, and " Wherefore," thus said he,
" This circumscription ? What of greater ill
Dwelleth within the breast of mine own sea
Than those whose farthest caves have felt the foot
" I will descend to Rory : haply there
May dwell some secret whose resistless charm^
Bent to my kindred's service, danger, care
Shall put apart, and shield from hurt or harm
In council grave or battle's loud alarm.
What ho, Muena. Haste my charioteer.
Who boasts that weak has grown my kingly arm
To sweep its path of all restriction clear ?
Fergus is Fergus still — and Fergus knows no
Muena heard, and answered word by deed.
Soon rolled the chariot round the palace hall,
And Eastward toward the ocean ; steed by steed
Stretched to the task his limbs ; their hoofs did
Like rain on summer noons. The curlews' call
Gave token of the near-approaching end.
And soon before their eyes the ocean wall
Shouldered the shock of waters that extend
To meet the sky. The King did to the marge
Know you the Loch of Rory ? Sages tell
How, when the sons of Adam felt the force
Of watery judgments, came a vagrant swell
And burst round shores of Eireann. Man and
King, chief, and clansman, in the widening course
Of high, resistless billows, sank from sight
'Mong cries from throats in sudden anguish
That called, and called, and ceased when fell the
And on a stranger shore soft broke the morning's
Across this shore Ultonia's King now passed.
The waves that rattled up the pebbled strand
Rose in their ranks, then low before him cast
Themselves, and stood aside on either hand.
The King moved forward. Never magic wand
More swift compelled submission. Thro' the spray,
As tho' he trod upon the level land.
He took, 'twixt watery walls, a deepening way,
Till o'er his head the waves shut out the light of
Forward he fared. No swimmer's opened eye
E'er scanned so sweet a sight. In glimmering
Slow lightening upward to the watery sky
That arched the watery world, in softer sheen
Than mortals wot of, lay the fairy scene : —
Fantastic rocks, sea-flowers that rose and fell
As brushed by silent shapes that moved between
Him and the darkening distance, fairy cell,
And beds of ocean bloom more sweet than
There sat the King adown to scan the world
Of more than wonder. Thither came to sue
For explanation things that swam, and curled,
Then circled round, and passed away from view.
Here stood as 'twere a camp, and there a few
Forms, not of ocean, human arms outspread.
King Fergus wept to make the sad review
Where those who faced the flood, now dumb and
Slept out the tale of time upon the ocean's bed.
Short space he sat when, from athwart the deep,
There came a sound of horror ! Far and near
A wild commotion rose, as things that creep,
Or climb, or swim, smitten with sudden fear,
Darkened the depths that erst had been so
King Fergus started upward to his feet,
And saw, but dimly, toward him quickly steer
A dreadful shape that came like lightning fleet.
And chilled the monarch's blood such fearful foe
It was the Muirdris ! ! Nought that men have
Could match its awful visage : high upheld
On ogrish limbs, one moment ape-like grown,
It flew along, till, lo ! it sank, and swelled
To size gigantic, while it yelped and yelled
In sound that spake of fury, fiendish ire.
In tremulous awe the King the beast beheld
Bent in its course on devastation dire,
While from its eyeballs streamed malignant lines
Round turned the King, and flew as 'twere from
Swift sped the beast within his foamy track.
Wreathed round his form the King could feel its
Nor dared he glance one smallest moment back.
Behind the twain, like tempest-driven rack,
Spread clouds of foam, pointing the path of each.
Above, white billows lashed the shore. His neck
Muena, wondering, strained, — till on the beach
Swooned the swift-fleeing King beyond the
But tho' Muena wondered as he saw
His King, 'mid foamy spray, make sudden flight,
Far more he wondered as he scanned the flaw
Upon the King's wan face, that made the sight
More dreadful than some horror-haunted night.
Lo ! wide apart, and stretched from ear to ear,
In sudden aspect of tremendous fright,
Gaped, like a cave, his jaws : the eyes, once clear,
Stared as upon a sight of overmastering fear.
Muena bore the King upon his breast
Into the chariot. There he laid him, dazed,
On ample couch, his fevered form to rest,
Soft shaded from the sun, that burned and blazed
High overhead, — then whipt the steeds, as crazed
From some pursuing phantom. Might and main
In lightning alternation high they raised
Sure-stepping foot, and over hill and plain
Toward far Emania's walls their swiftest strength
Not far the sun had fallen, when he drew
The chargers' reins beside the circling sweep
Of Royal walls. The gathering clansmen knew
From foam and steam no slow and leisured creep
Had been their pace. Their thought took leap
From sight to meaning. Then upon the floor
They spied the King recumbent as in sleep,
And as the form was borne within the door,
In others' eyes they sought the secret o'er and o'er.
Straightway into the council-room of chiefs
And sages was the limp-limbed body borne.
Then spake Muena : " Lo ! a grief of griefs,
Ultonia's hearts are kingless and forlorn,
For know ye not how spake the wiseman, born
To wisdom ? — ' Ne'er shall King with blemish
Reign ' : and behold ! alas ! since this sad morn
King Fergus, from Ambition evil-starred,
Lies now before your eyes in visage sorely scarred.
" Choose ye a King, to reign within his stead."
He ceased, but answer came not ; rather, round
The silent throng flew questioning glance that said
Unstable vacillation. Not a sound
Broke cover till one bolder spirit wound
The trumpet-horn of speech ; then left and right,
Leapt forth the hounds of thought, and roof and
Echoed impassioned tongues, and feet bedight
With thong and sandal, plied with each loud
Then spake the sons of wisdom, they who stood
Apart in silent conclave, while the din
Of ineffectual babblings drew no rood
More near conclusion : " Hear, Ultonian kin !
What arm so strong Ultonia's wars to win,
Foster the strength of strong, inspire the weak ?
Lives there a soul full fit to stand within
The Monarch's room ? What worthier do you
To guide the reins of peace, or would ye other ?
Speak ! "
** None ! none ! " the multitudinous answer rang
Unanimous. (King Fergus, with a sigh,
Turned in his sleep. Perchance he dreamed there
Some bard of deeds their fathers did.) The cry
Thrilled through the chamber's walls, and far
Found answer in a thousand throats, that gave
Their yet unmeaning plaudits to the sky ;
And as, in sound like shoreward-shrieking wave
They shout, the secret they in others' faces crave.
Without, the crowd swayed back and forth, with
Low-muffled, as the sea doth surge and sway
In silken swell, from storm gone past. Within
Was calm, and brows determined sought a way
Through that old law to write emphatic " Nay !"
Then quoth the wisemen's chief : ** Our path is
Our hearts upon our tongues have said their say,
And Fergus o'er Ultonia's host shall reign,
If but to meet our thoughts your constant strength
" Let fools and babblers take their journey far,
And silent sit as sent'nel to your speech.
What wots the King of that which him doth mar
If but the knowledge in the breast of each
Be locked beyond a thought's long-armed reach
Till forced forgetfulness doth rust the key
Or haply lose it. E'en your art let teach
The water to forget his form to see
Or give it back, when to ablution cometh he."
Approval shone within their eyes. Their tongues
In loud assent gave forth : " Fergus is King !"
And once again without, untutored lungs
Caught up the cry, nor knew what meant the
*Till, like a mighty bird, on fresh-plumed wing,
The Royal chariot once again did shake
Rampart and roof, as champing steeds did fling
Their heads on high, and sped by mount and brake
To scenes of less surprise when Fergus should
What need to sing of deeds within the scope
Of thrice a dozen moons ? What need to tell
How fared the King when, by the sanded slope
Where twice a day the sea- waves fret and swell,
He woke ? Or devious deeds that oft befell