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I RISHRY

BY JOSEPH CAMPBELL



LIBRARY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

RIVERSIDE




AAA



IRISHRY



DY THE SAME AUTHOR

THE GILLY OF CHRIST

THE MOUNTAINY SINGER

HEARING stones:
Illustrated by the Author

JUDGMENT, A PLAY



I_R I S H R Y

BY JOSEPH CAMPBELL



MAUNSEL & CO., LTD.
DUBLIN AND LONDON



TR^oOOS-



All rights reserved

o



Printed by Maunsel and Co., Ltd., Dublin



IN MEMO RUM

W. H. C.
B. 1S42, D. igoo



PREFACE

HARDLY a corner of Ireland but has contributed
something to this pageant of the types that
stand for the nation to-day. Tipperary
gave me The Horse-Breakcr ; Kerry, The Mother
and The Blind Man at the Fair ; Clare, The
Dancer, The Fiddler and The Bone-Setter ; Sligo,
Riders; Galway, The Aran Islander ; the moun-
tainous borderland between the counties of Dublin
and Wicklow, The Turf-Man, TJie Labourer and
The Woman at the Well; Donegal, The Journeyman
Weaver; Down, The Whelk-Gatherer ; Armagh, TJie
Unfrocked Priest ; and Antrim, TJie Orangeman.

Artists are fortunate in that the colour of Irish
life is still radiant. One hears on all sides of grey-
ness, emigration, degeneracy, but one has only to
look about to see that the cry has no mouth. There
is blood everywhere ; in the boglands of Connacht,
as well as on the farms of Leinster ; in the streets of
Cork, as well as in that barbarous nook, Belfast, my
own calf-ground.

The majority of the poems arc printed for the
first time, but a few have appeared in The Irish
Review, The Nation, Poetry (Chicago), and The
IrisJi- American (New York), and my thanks are due
the respective Editors for permission to republish.

J. C.

Glancullen, Co, Dublin,

October, 1 913.

vii



CONTENTS



LIKE LANGLAND IN HIS VISION, I 2

THE MOTHER 3

THE SHEPHERD 4

THE PLOUGHMAN 5

THE BLIND MAN AT THE FAIR 6

THE FARMER 7

THE WOOD-GATHERER 8

THE COBBLER 9

THE DANCER 10

THE FIDDLER I I

RIDERS 12
THE FAIRIES
THE GOMBEEN



14

THE OFFICIAL 1 6

LOAFERS

THE LABOURER



17

THE TURF-MAN 20

THE WHELK-GATHERER 21

THE WISE-WOMAN
THE RAGMAN
PRIESTS



23
24

25

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL 27

THE EMIGRANT 28

THE EXILE 29

THE YOUNG GIRL 3O

THE OLD AGE PENSIONER 3 1

THE NORTHERN FARMER 32

THE ROAD-MAKER 33
THE ROAD-MENDER
THE BONE-SETTER



34
35



IX



CONTENTS

THE SCHOLAR 38

THE PROPHET 39

THE TINKERS 4O

THE weaver's family 4 I

THE horse-breaker 43

THE UNFROCKED PRIEST 44

THE JOHN's-FIRE DANCERS 47

THE ANTIQUARY 48

THE PLANTER 50

THE PUCA 5 I

THE STONE-CUTTER 5 2

THE MILK-BOY 53

THE MAN AND THE MARSH-MALLOWS 54

THE ARAN ISLANDER 55

THE PHILOSOPHER 5^

THE GLEANERS 57

POETS 5 8

THE ORANGEMAN 60

THE MILL-GIRL . 62

THE PIPER 63

THE MIDWIFE 65

66
68

THE NEWSPAPER-SELLER 69

THE JOURNEYMAN WEAVER 73

THE PIG-KILLER 7 +

THE COUNTRY SWEEP 75

GHOSTS 7^

THE OSIER-SELLERS 78

THE OLD WOMAN 79



THE MAN-CHILD
THE PROFESSOR



A fair field, full of folk, I found there between.
Of all manner of men, the mean and the rich,
All working or wandering, as the world requires.

— Lans'land's Vision of Piers the Plowman.



Like Langland in his Vision,/
See a field of folk go by :
Shepherd, plougher, pensioner,
Scholar, priest and labourer.
Symbols of the god in man
Since the tale of time began.

Ireland is the field they tread.
Back of them the royal dead,
Heroes of an older day,
March in companies of grey —
Milcdh in his battle-car,
Father to the kings that are ;
Conor, Feargus, Cullan's Hound,
Soundless on a tide of sound ;
Luai's daughter, Naisi's queen.
Loved and lover all unseen,
Save by me who look with eyes
Conscious of the mysteries.



THE MOTHER

THE hearthstone broods in shadow,
And the dark hills are old,
But the child clings to the mother,
And the corn springs in the mould.

And Dana moves on Luachra,
And makes the world anew :
The cuckoo's cry in the meadow,
The moon, and the early dew.



THE SHEPHERD

DARK against the stars
He stands : the cloudy bars
Of nebulae, the constellations ring
His forehead like a king.

The ewes are in the fold :

His consciousness is old

As his, who in Chaldsea long ago

Penned his flock, and brooded so.



THE PLOUGHMAN

THE ploughman ploughs the
fallow-
Smoking lines
Of sunset earth
Against a clump of pines.

A flock of rooks and seagulls
Wheel and cry
About him, making music
In the sky.

Wings black and silver
In a sky of grey,
Like shadows folding
Between night and day.

Thro' the pine-branches

Lights a dying gleam :

The swingle creaks,

The ploughman turns his team

Not for himself he ploughs
The hill land thro' :
He offers sacrifice
For me and you.

Of earth, that in its time
Will break to bread,
The sacramental veil
Of Godlihcad.

5



THE BLIND MAN AT THE FAIR

OTO be blind !
To know the darkness that I know.
The stir I hear is empty wind,
The people idly come and go.

The sun is black, tho' warm and kind,
The horsemen ride, the streamers blow
Vainly in the fluky wind,
For all is darkness where I go.

The cattle bellow to their kind,
The mummers dance, the jugglers throw,
The thimble-rigger speaks his mind — •
But all is darkness \^■here I go.

I feel the touch of womankind,
Their dresses flow as white as snow ;
But beauty is a withered rind,
For all is darkness where I go.

Last night the moon of Lammas shined,
Rising high and setting low ;
But light is nothing to the blind —
All, all is darkness where they go.

White roads I walk with vacant mind.
White cloud-shapes round me drifting slow,
White lilies waving in the wind —
And darkness everywhere I go.

6



THE FARMER

You poets cannot know the earth as I.
The birth you know, but not the agony
Ot travail ; harvest, but not seeding ;
Altar bread, but not the bleeding
Hands, the sweat, the press of thought
That, like a coulter, ploughs me thro'
Before the living germ is bought.
And swallows whistle in the windy blue.



THE WOOD-GATHERER

SHE totters from the wood
Draggled and grey :
The winter of decay
Sets in her blood.



And yet on bush and tree
The leaf is out :
The cuckoo's been about
Two weeks or three.

Oh, what has frosty blood
To do with spring ?
Or fire with such a thing
As wood, green wood ?



8



THE COBBLER

BY window-light and candle-light,
Making brogues for mortals' feet,
For hedgers and for gentlemen,
The cobbler keeps his little seat.
This sole \\ill climb to find the Well
That flows over the Edge of Day,
And that in labour or in lust
\\'ill wear its newness quite away.

Thro' half a yard of furry pane

And horn-rimmed moons of flinty glass,

Lifting his white and grimy cheek,

He sees the coloured seasons pass.

And tho' he never tastes the air

Or drinks the beauty of the sun.

He bows his back to work again

As if he were but just begun.

Red carts may come and riders go.
And sail-ships sail the windy sea.
Tinkers may tramp the roads of Clare
And captains fight in Carribbee ;
But window-light and candle-light,
Winter dark and summer sweet.
Careful as a leprechaun
The cobbler keeps his little seat.



THE DANCER

THE tall dancer dances
With slowly-taken breath
In his feet music,
And on his face death.

His face is a mask,
It is so still and white :
His withered eyes shut,
Unmindful of light.

The old fiddler fiddles
The merry " Silver Tip "
With softly-beating foot
i.\nd laughing eye and lip.

And round the dark walls
The people sit and stand,
Praising the art
Of the dancer of the land.

But he dances there
As if his kin were dead :
Clay in his thoughts,
And lightning in his tread.



ID



THE FIDDLER

WHAT spells are on his fiddle
Only the like of me knows,
That turned the Plough in heaven
And pulled the flower that grows
In Cluain-na-Marbh. Darkly
He blinks there and plays,
And no one of the dancers
But I can give him praise.

He fiddles out of the wave
And he fiddles out of fire ;
In his hand hate and cunning,
On his strings the heart's desire.
And only I can praise
That know the dreamer's mind,
That have eyes for his darkness
And hear things on the wind.



II



RIDERS

TTJLUE cloud and amber,
-* - ' And a moon riding high.
What is that coming
Out of the quiet sky ?

A cloud it seems, moving
All in the distance dim :
A red cloud moving
Over the hills' rim.

Nearer it comes, nearer,
A cloud red and white,
As Zechary the Prophet
Saw by dead of night.

Red horses racing,
And on their backs low.
Seven men riding,
And shouting as they go.

Then like the Lord's Prophet
I said, What are these ?
And no sound answered
But the leaves of the trees.

The leaves of the alders
Swaying to and fro.
And the wind of the riders
Shouting as they go. —

12



A star stooped down to me
When the cloud was past,
And said, Saw you riders
Riding very fast ?

Those were dealers
Riding from the fair
Against the morrow's sun
To Dromahair.



13



THE FAIRIES

WHEN Eber came to Kerry,
When Guaire gave his gold,
Then were we young and merry
Who now are old.

The green and the grey places.
Then were they green and grey :
We saw but shining faces
And open day.

We saw but shining faces,
The sickle moon of night,
Banners in royal places
And torches bright.

We heard but beauty spoken.
Red war and passion sung,
Music on harp-strings broken.
When we were young.

What is the morning plougher
To us, whose ancient dream
Is as a fallen flower
Upon a stream ?



H



THE GOMBEEN

BEHIND a web of bottles, bales,
Tobacco, sugar, coffin nails
The gombeen like a spider sits,
Surfeited ; and, for all his wits,
As meagre as the tally-board
On which his usuries are scored.

The mountain people come and go
For wool to weave or seed to sow.
White flour to bake a wedding cake,
Red spirits for a stranger's wake.
No man can call his soul his own
Who has the Devil's spoon on loan.

And so behind his web of bales,
Horse halters, barrels, pucaun sails
The gombeen like a spider sits.
Surfeited ; and, for all his wits.
As poor as one who never knew
The treasure of the early dew.



15



THE OFFICIAL

THE rosewood chair,
The littered desk, the weary air —
What matter they ?
The tiller's spade that breaks the clay
In Wisdom's eye is worthier. No !
You could not make a leaf to grow,
For all you ponder so.

Young men will love, and mate

The flesh that fate

Has married ; wombs will open ; death

Will take the quiet breath

Of old people ; the harrowed seed

Will germinate, and give us bread at need ;

The apple-tree upon its root

Will carry golden fruit ;

The wind will rise,

And shake the heavy skies

To shapes of beauty ; sun

Will shine, rain fall, white water run,

And dew

Drop from the starlit firmament

In spite of Government

Or you !



i6



LOAFERS

IF highest Heaven were no more
Than this: an undulating floor
Of flowering furze and lawny grass ;
White clouds, like ships, that pass and pass ;
An April sun warming my neck ;
Two corbies playing at pick-a-back ;
A lark trilling, a butterfly
That mounts and falls and flutters by ;
My Thoreau open at " Waldcn Pond'' ;
Blue hills of mystery beyond —
'Tvvould be enough. Or, having this,
Who'd die to win more perfect bliss ?

And who's the wiser? I, or he

Who props a wall at Eden Quay,

And spits innumerably between

His drinks ? while April like a queen

Rides over noisome lane and street,

Bringing the breath of meadow-sweet.

Of flowering furze and daffodils

That toss their beauty to the hills,

Of wall-flowers, purple, brown and red,

And Solomon's-seal with drooping head, — •

And Liffey's ooze meanders rank,

For all her touch, 'twixt bank and bank.

Heaven is peace. The key is found
In sightless air, unheeded sound,

17 C



Or such like atrophy of sense
When consciousness is in suspense :
The climbing thoughts lulled to a sleep
Of grey forgetfulness, like sheep
Gathered to fold : when near is blent
With distant, and the skyey tent
Of clouds and trilling larks and sun
And earth and wind and God are one.
He's even wise, who props a wall,
And cares not if it stand or fall 1



i8



THE LABOURER

SHOUTS, loud and drunken, break the
mood
Of a June night — the solitude.
The smell, the mystery ; and soon
Their cause staggers against the moon.

Who, then, or what ? A labourer :
Delver in earth, but now on air
Treading, as if the sky were his,
Zeus, and his starry mistresses !

Clodhopper, hireling : not content
With the bothy built by Government —
Two rooms, a sty — but he must drown
All memory of it in the town.

Ploughed earth is drab, but Camden

Street
Is drabber : nothing clean or sweet :
No stars, no silences, no dews,
But pubs, and tick-shops run by Jews.

Here the strong man on holiday —
'Tis Corpus Christi — drinks his pay
With spongers at a spewy bar,
The bull-runter, the tramp, the tar.

And late returning, halo-crowned,
W'ith empty purse and sorrow drowned.
Bawls to the stars that silently
Spin in the shining Milky Way.

19



THE TURF-MAN

OAKS that once waved to the sky
In his wicker kishes he,
Seeded ere King Conor's birth
To warm my httle house of earth.
But the fiend Mortahty
Touches all things with decay.
Soon the turf-man and his ass
Like the green forest will pass,
Branch on branch and stem on stem.
Soon, like Conor's diadem —
The red carbuncle in his crown —
My fire will sink and settle down,
And I, the poet, old and poor,
Be left wondering at Death's door.



20



THE WHELK-GATIIKKER

WHELKS from the white sea,
The sea-field of Lir,
What hfe has touched you ?
What storm, what vastncss ?

Creek to sea-loch,

And sea-loch to ocean

Are brothers.

What rumours have cried to you

From the Beyond ?

Where the dim sea-line
Is a wheel unbroken ;
Where day dawns on water,
And night falls on wind,
And the fluid elements
Quarrel for ever.

Where sometimes the sun
Looks hotly down on you,
And sometimes the moon,
And the ice-cold stars.

Where no ship sailed of man
Comes ever to trouble you ;
Only the nautilus' fluttering

pennant,
Only the petrel's peak of silver,

21



Only the whale's hulk, only the

dolphin's,
Only the derelict — black and

deserted.

And you ?

You, poor woman,

Swathed in thick shawls,

Wet and staggering

Under your burden,

Have sailed seas all as strange.

Such life has touched you,
Such storm, such vastness,
Such rumours have cried to you
From the Beyond.



22



THE WISE-WOMAN

FIELDS of corn lay water logged
Mountain gullies roared in flood,
Thatches leaked, and cattle bogged
Dewlap-deep in oozy mud.
Granny Bush from her front door
Prayed the skies to rain no more.

But the gods that rule the rain
Turned a bothered ear, and fell
Straight into their dreams again
At the head of Connla's Well —
Spouting from a sky of grey
Half a night and half a day.

Were their hearts not dead in dreams
They would bid the rain be done,
Dry the thatches, still the streams.
Lift the cornlands to the sun.
Granny then might sup her brew
In a tent of green and blue.



23



THE RAGMAN

RATTLE, rattle over the stones,
Rags and bones, rags and bones ;
Blue balloons, and a dirty old man
Who never was washed since time began.

Round and round, and to and fro.
And up and down the whirligigs go ;
And the blue-skinned bubbles fuss and fret
For lack of room in the ragman's net.



24



PRIESTS



WHEN he goes lliin in leaky shoes
For lack of meat and marriage dues
Two moons will kindle in the sky,
And drink the deep Atlantic dry.

He built a chapel on a hill,
And let the peasants foot the bill.
When Dagda cracks its steeple down
The rooted oaks ^\ill come to town.



II

Walking the road between grey, lichened walls
To where the sick man or the sinner calls.
You tread the path that Paul and Jerome trod,
Dispenser of the mysteries of God.

The scholarship you know, the Latin, Greek,
The books you write, the shining words you speak.
Your silvered hair, your shaven face, your dress
Are but as shadows of your holiness-

I do not judge you, any more than I
Have judged another ; but with Wisdom's eye
I look, and count you worthy of high song
Who lift the fallen, bid the weak be strong.

25



Ill



Christ drank the wine of love-feasts,
Christ broke the leper's bread ;
Christ let a fallen woman
Pour spikenard on his head.

You put a mask on beauty,
You bind the dancers' feet ;
You bless the sad and bitter,
And curse the gay and sweet.



26



THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

GKUMLY ploughed his field, she said,
Upon the threshold of day ;
And the sun rose up in a cloud of fire
Over the hills away.

And two white doves came down, she said,
And bathed in the mearing spring,
And Grumly reined his horses in
To watch so strange a thing.

Grumly ploughed his field, she said.
Upon the heel of day ;
And the sun sank down in a cloud of fire
Over the hills away.

And the two white doves came down, she said.
And bathed in the mearing spring;
And Grumly took a jack-stone up.
And did a murderous thing. . . ,

It is many a year ago, she said,
And Grumly's field is mine :
He ploughs the Meadow of the Dead
Where sun will never shine.

But still the water runs, she said.
And still the spring is blest ;
And daylight whitens in the east
And reddens in the west.

27



THE EMIGRANT

THE car is yoked before the door,
And time will let us dance no more.
Come, fiddler, now, and play for mc
*' Farewell to barn and stack and tree."

To-day the fields looked wet and cold,
The mearings gapped, the cattle old.
Things are not what they used to be —
"Farewell to barn and stack and tree."

I go, without the heart to go,

To kindred that I hardly know.

Drink, neighbour, drink a health with me-

" Farewell to barn and stack and tree.''

Five hours will see me stowed aboard,
The gang-plank up, the ship unmoored.
Christ grant no tempest shakes the sea —
" Farewell to barn and stack and tree."



28



THE EXILE

HILLS of heather, fields of stones,
And the hungry sea that moans
Endlessly beyond them : they
Hold my heart till Judgment Day.

Home is heaven, tho' it were
A burrow in the rock of Clare :
And Clare is seventh heaven to me,
Hanging on the hungry sea.



29



THE YOUNG GIRL

THE foxglove's purple tongue,
The stony pool
That doubles earth and sky
Can never die.
The fields are beautiful,
A nd yoii, are young.

Over the haggard gate
Creeps the red moon :
Apple and acorn now
Drop from the bough.
The golden fields will soon
Be desolate.

The plougher turns the mould :

Shadowed and cool,

The primrose makes of spring

A star-lit thing.

The fields are beautiful.

And you are old.



30



THE OLD AGE PENSIONER

HE sits over the glimmering coal
With ancient face and folded hands;
His eye glasses his quiet soul,
He blinks and nods and understands.
In dew wetted, in tempest blown,
A Lear at last come to his own.

For fifty years he trenched his field
That he might eat a freeman's bread :
The seasons balked him of their yield,
His children's children wished him dead.
But ransom came to him at length
At the ebb-tide of life and strength.

And so he sits with folded hands

Over the flag of amber fire :

He blinks and nods and understands,

He has his very soul's desire.

In dew wetted, in tempest blown,

A Lear at last come to his own.



31



THE NORTHERN FARMER

OH, is there wool for weaving,
And is there corn for bread ?
And is the child of man alive,
Or is it pale and dead ?

Tell me, you Northern Farmer,
That count your bag of gold :
The coins were minted yesterday.
But life is very old.

Your farmstead walls are shining
With fragrant lime and tar :
But Beauty sits upon a cloud.
And beckons from a star.

And Wisdom lives in ploughing.
And Wonder in a birth :
The yellow god you worship is
No stronger than the earth.

Oh, is there wool for weaving,
And is there corn for bread ?
And is the child of man alive,
Or is it pale and dead ?

Tell me, you Northern Farmer,
That count your bag of gold :
The coins were minted yesterday,
But life is very old.
32



THE ROAD-MAKER

ROAD-MAKER ! — what Other name
Matches thee, O soul of flame?
Father, to whose passion I
Owe my place in destiny.

Did thy knowledge plan the way,
Fix the levels, trench the clay,
Blast the rock and roll the stone
That my feet have travelled on ?

I am hardly of the trade
Thou and thy forefathers made
Epic by your ancient skill,
Intellect and iron will.

Yet by that I have from thee —
Prescience and poetry —
I make roads for feet to tread
To the wonders overhead.



33



D



THE ROAD-MENDER

LIFE goes by, slowly by :
Clouds, like sheep flocks, in the sky,
Tinkers, following for gain
The ancient craft of Tubal Cain,
Red leaves whirled from autumn woods
Summer shadows, winter floods.
Drovers, trampers, men in carts
From the two-and-thirty arts,
Daw^ns that blossom, dusks that die-
All go by, slowly by.

Only you, that mend the roads,
Move not with the horses' loads,
Travel not with dusty feet
From mountain farm to city street.
Life goes by you, and you feel
All the racket of the wheel ;
Time flies past you, and you see
All its love and misery.
Stirring hardly from your place —
A needle-point in boundless space.



34



THE BONE-SETTER

Thi Quarryman tells of his Powers

Now may a red stone choke me,
If what I say's a lie !
He set my arm as square
As if it wasn't broke ;
And broke it was, sir, there,
Most cruelly.
Broke half athwart,
With a jagged edge, like a spar.
Slinging flags, it was, from Cronan's cart
Into the little barque moored aft the bar
At Dcnegrogue.

And here I am, as game a rogue
As ever wore out shoe-leather ;
And I'll be seventy soon.
Ay, without ache or pain at all.
Saving a stoon, at times, of the rheumatism
In wet or frosty weather.

D'you see that lime-washed house beyond ?
This side the quarry head,
The dormers painted red.
It's his.

As snug as a haggard mouse
He lives there.
Marry ? God, not he !
He's not the marrying sort, I tell you.

35



Many a blood you'd think would court

Has never crossed a maid.

Wed he is to his trade —

And that's my own (God spare me ! ),

Quarrying stone.

But he's a rich man, sir,

And I'm a poor.

For, sure, the quarries on the bluff are his,

The house you see, the farm.

And money and stuff besides.

Flowing on him, faith, in spring tides

The money is.

And me ?

I've three to feed on seven bob a week:

Herself, and Marcus Blake, her father —

Galway breed :

A done old man,

Tho' he's the pension now,

And that comes handy.

Ah, God knows it does !

Well, Jerry Landy broke his leg —
You know him, boss ? Young Jerry —
Fair across the shin bone.
Getting stone ? No.
Stacking? No.
Loading ? God, not he
Hurling he was a' Sunday,

36



And that's not Chriskin —

Ah, God knows it isn't !

Well, a' Monday it was set,

And he in bed

Whistling " The Wife of the Red-Haired Man "-

As well as ever he was.

Who set it ?

Him, to be sure. Who else ?

For a fractured limb,

Or wrench, or strain,

There's not his like

'Twixt Burren and Bodyke.

Biddy Early and her herbs was good.

But, faith, he's better.

A cunning pull, a push, two splints of wood.

Cotton to lap it round.

No letter, like what the doctor gives you.

And no draught to poison you —

That's his craft, no more.

And it's for the poor —

Old women and old men, like me —

He practises;

And foolish cubs, d'you see,

Would get a fall

At pucking ball, or wrestling,

Or breaking a young horse.

And, of course, the goose-seam's free !

God bless us all and keep us —

Him, the master, you, my friend, and me.



37



THE SCHOLAR

WHICH is the wiser thing ?
To let no flower of spring
Pass by, to fill ourselves with wine
And precious ointments, with the vine
And rose to bind our head
Before the leaves are withered.
Or to be counted fools
With those who haunt the schools
Of Poetry, to have it told —
He lived, despising gold
But loving Knozvledge. There f
His breath is others^ air.
He^s dead ; dead as the wet clay
Is dead ; dead with too short a day,
His name a byword. —

From " Apocrypha "
The scholar glanced. He sat upon a ditch
In the open sun, close to a pine-wood. Which
Is the wiser thing ? he said.
A pine-cone fell. The silence answered.



38



THE PROPHET

« c /^UT of the violent stream

V_y A green field.' So
Will Ireland grow
Out of her bloody dream." —

The old man spoke


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