Helena Callanan.

Verses old and new online

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Inscribed respectfully with gratitude to the kindest of


In offering this collection of simple verses to the public,
I am perfectly conscious that they possess little or no claim
to literary merit, But, remembering the kind consideration
with which a previous little volume " Gathered Leaflets "-
was received, I am encouraged to collect the verses I have
written since then, together with a few cullings from
" Gathered Leaflets " by special request. This explains the
title, " Verses Old and New." I am also encouraged by
the kindness of many friends who have promised, both
personally and through their acquaintances, to help in the
sale of my little book.

Asylum for the Blind, Infirmary Road.
August nth, 1898.














A CONUNDRUM - - - 34










ONE BY ONE - - 63












ALLEY BAWN - . - 89




AT REST - . -99

DAISY - . . 101



BABY MAY - - 108

JI Sfyamroek.


are thoughts sweet perfume breathing,
r Bright and sage and full of beauty,
Culled from past and present ages,

O'er thy album's pages strewn.
From the rich domains of fancy
Loving hands with care have gathered
Every bud of sweetest meaning
They were planted all too soon.

Else I might find some stray blossom
With fresh dew of thought upon it ;
Yet I fain with thy fair garland

Would one tiny field-flower twine
One green spray of native shamrock,
Fragrant with historic mem'ries,
On each leaf in letters golden

I'd engrave a gift divine.


Faith, firm Faith, bright, strong, enduring
Faith, that life's fierce storm and passion
Shall pass by, and leave unclouded ;

Be this blessing thine for aye.
Hope, that glimmereth through darkness,
Charms the present, gilds the future,
With warm rays of heaven's glory,

Imaging eternal day.

Love, God's crown of bliss, outshining
All the joys e'er known or dreamed of,
Perfect as thy fairest vision,

Be this treasure thine, to keep.
In thy inmost heart close folded,
May it ever walk beside thee,
Safe without regrets or shadows,

Fears to fright, or tears to weep.

In the pages yet ungarnished

Wilt thou give my shamrock welcome

Only for the fervent wishes

Fondly wreathed around the stem ?
Tribute to thy grace and beauty,
And the mellow light of kindness
That illumes thy gentle spirit,

And thy heart, thy purest gem.

JYlay in tlje City.

TtT HE roses opening to the sun
r Proclaim that winter's work is done ;
May, like her own fair Queen of Love,
With blessings o'er the earth doth move ;
In thrills and shakes the whole day long
My birdie fills the hours with song,
And happy as in woodland gay,
Echoes the revelry of May.

Be glad, my heart, for summer's come,
And, e'en to this poor city home,
The welcome time of light and flowers
Shall bring good gifts and happy hours.
Here, in this squalid, crowded street,
Where weary hearts, 'mid toil and heat,
Life's burdens bear from day to day,
E'en here we know thee, blushing May.

So far away from fields and woods
Green, sunny meads, cool solitudes,
Without one glimpse of country fair,
And scarce a breath of pure, fresh air,


A beam from the bright heaven of blue
Will stray some attic window through,
And longing eyes in summer's ray
Hail the glad messenger of May.

From early morn to eve I hear
The merry bird-notes ringing clear
The notes that e'en in winter's gloom
Made summer music in my room.
Here, though no dewy bud is seen,
Nor blossom white, nor leaf of green,
No warbler perched on hawthorn spray
Could sing a sweeter song of May.

But sometimes I could pity thee,
So wasted seems thy melody,
Lost in the city's toil and din,
'Mid sounds of discord, strife and sin ;
Yet, birdie, sing of flowers and streams,
And with bright pictures fill the dreams
Of many, who, through life's rough way,
See but faint images of May.

Father JVlattyew.

, in our city by the Lee,
The golden bond of charity
Together bound three hearts as leal
As ever beat for Ireland's weal ;
Each with the same grand mission blest,
Though none the other's creed professed,
Shades of opinion, creed and class,
Were all dissolved to save the mass.

The Christian man whose genial ways
Out-lived the memory of his days,
Whose heart o'erflowed with sympathy
For all God's human family,*
Embraced the cause with one whose life
A precept preached 'gainst brawl and strife ; f
Both marked the ardent priest and knew
Their cause had gained a champion true.

* Mr. Richard Dovvden Richard. f Mr. William Martin.


They saw, behind the modest veil,
Vast stores of energy and zeal,
That could a golden harvest glean
Nor had their inspiration been
A futile hope, they woke the fire
That flamed into a grand desire :
To war with drink and take firm stand
Against the evil of our land.

Like light in darkness Mathew came,
To break the chains of guilt and shame
That tramelled with a dark disgrace
The children of the Irish race.
'Twas his high destiny to win
Thousands of souls from vice and sin.
The stoutest heart might quail to see
Our bondage worse than slavery.

The friar, in humble habit clad,
Passed o'er the land and made it glad.
Hope crowned, invigorated, free,
From base, degrading misery ;
His blessing fructified the earth.
His pledge brought peace to every hearth,
The sunny radiance of his smile
From East to West lit up our isle.

( '5 >

Men followed him with love and awe,
They recognised his word as law.
Twas not his eloquence sublime
That sent his voice from clime to clime,
But that deep, earnest power, that dwells
Where truth with charity excels,
And Father Mathew's pledge and name
A sacred spell-word soon became !

Priest, Friend, and great philanthropist,
Few could his grace and charm resist ;
The children gathered round his way,
As if they knew how proud, one day,
Would be their privilege to tell
"that on their ears his accents fell,
That they had seen his kindly face
The saviour of their a^e and race.

Bright in our country's annals shine

The preachers of the Word Divine,

Nor can the proudest nation boast

The record of a truer host.

Of minstrels, poets, scholars, we

Can count a glorious galaxy ;

But Ireland twines round Mathew's name

The fairest chaplet of her fame.

Deep in her virgin heart enshrined
He lives, the friend of all mankind
The tender, loving, Christian man
Who raised the flag and led the van
Of noble souls, who, armed with right,
Went forth to battle with the might
Of Demon Drink, and check the course
Sweeping the land with cataract force.

In peace, fair city by the Lee,
They sleep, the venerated threa ;
But they were with us in our need,
They sowed the good, enduring seed :
To every worker in the field
May God a precious harvest yield,
And fairest fruitage of success
Their noble efforts crown and bless,


.Honour tfce Fifty Veterans.

CENTURY has passed away,

To swell time's mighty river,
And many a good seed in the grave

Of years is lost for ever ;
Still is an humble friar's name

By all the world revered,
His spirit lives to-day to bless

The land his life hath cheered.
And fair among the brilliant gems

Around his memory twining,
We hail the fifty veterans true
Who kept his lustre shining.

Where flows the Lee in beauty's pride
Through woodland valleys green,

Tracing its silver windings clear
By many a sylvan scene.

Twas there that Mathews' golden words

First filled with hope the nation,
And fell upon our darkened 'land

Like light of revelation ;
When class with class, and creed with creed

To praise his deeds are vying,
Foremost they held the vanguard true

Who kept his banner flying.

They crowned his name with fairest wreathes

Of legend, song and story,
One dtar to Ireland and to fame.

Enshrined his life in glory.
To Cork-a-More from England's shore

And from the land of heather,
With joy they come to Mathews' home

To honour him together,
Let youthful hearts" resolve to-day

That, scoff and jeer defying,
They, like the fifty veterans true.

Will keep his banner flying.

In tlje Star Ligfyt.

TtTHE old man touched the fiddle strings,
/ The fire was burning low,

They woke a dream of many things

Out of the long ago.
The tender music end the hush

Of softly fading day,
Brought back the glory and the flush

Of far-off sunny May.
The old man touched the fiddle strings,

The fire was burning low,
And dreamed sweet dreams of many things

In vanished long ago.

Again he loitered by the stream

To gather cresses sweet,
Or lingered in the autumn beam,

To pluck the rich, ripe wheat.
Once more with measure gay and light

He waked the merry dance,
And marked on dear, lost faces bright

The smile and love-lit glance.


The old man touched the fiddle strings,
Faint shone the embers' 'glow,

The hour gave back the echoings
Of distant long ago.

His old companions, one by one,

Along the vale of years
Summoned the gladness and the sun,

Summoned the shades and tears,
Passed by and left him at the gate

That opes into the West,
Amid the twilight mist to wait

The messenger of rest.
The old man dropped the fiddle strings,

The stars were shining fair,
The rustling of an angel's wings

Made music in the air.

( 2' )
JI Promise.

TjTHE robin pipes o'er baby's rest
A His song in the elm-tree old,
Baby smiled on his mother's breast,

When autumn turned the leaves to gold :
But when the snow-drifts virgin-white
Were lying thick on hill and plain,
At Mary's feet with angels bright
Baby carolled his Christmas strain.

Keen blew the bleak December wind

The day our nursling's grave was made,
Not e'en a leafy wreath was twined

Or blossom on his coffin laid.
The tiny grave looked cold and dry.

We, with the trouble and the prayer
To still our hearts' impatient cry,

Forgot to place a flower -gift there.

But, darling, when the woods are green,

When summer visits all the bowers,
When balmy breath and fervid sheen

With kisses wake the sleeping flowers ;
I'll bring the roses, white and red,

And wild flowers culled from wood and lea,
To watch above thy cradle bed

And weep their dewy tears for thee.

(22 )

Chapel Bell.

the dew-gemmed fields and woods,

Over the shamrock-spangled hills,
Through the green- hearted solitudes,

The sunny glades and sparkling rills,
Glad sounds are ringing sweet and clear,

Blest sounds, that I no more shall hear
On Irish ground. Oh ! never more

I'll wait beside my cottage door,
Or loiter in the pleasant dell,

To hear the welcome Chapel Bell.

The ship lies waiting in the bay,
And ere another Sabbath light

Gleams on the church-yard, old and grey,
The storied panes, the altar white,

The grave, the altar, and the cot,
And every memory-haunted spot,


The friends I loved, so warm and true,
All shall have faded from my view,

Mine eye shall weep a long farewell
To Ireland, home, and Chapel Bell.

Our fathers met, in days of old,

In lonely cave or green hill-side,
And there the blessed Beads were told,

And there, by stealth, the Crucified
Came down from heaven in lowly guise,

To warm their hearts, and hush their sighs.
Oft from the altar to the rack

Their footsteps left a gory track.
On gibbet dark, in convict cell,

They died for love of Chapel Bell.

Those days were dark, but God knew best,

And now, throughout our Ireland green,
From North to South, from East to West,

The sign of Calvary is seen.
Unfettered now, each man may kneel,

And to his God his heart reveal,
In thousands now our people pass

In sun-bright day to holy Mass,
And prayerful anthems grateful swell

Responsive to the Chapel Bell.


How often, in the days to come,

Those Sabbath chimes and Sabbath lays
Shall haunt me in my distant home,

Like echoes from my early days !
Though other lands may bring me gain

'Tis hard to bear the exile's pain,
My yearning heart still pines for thee,

Blest cradle of my infancy !
For, ah ! the blessings who can tell

Of Irish faith and Chapel Bell.



Tlje Little Violinist.

E in the May-time long ago

dear child-angel came to me,
She blossomed 'neath love's rose-red glow,
And filled my life with melody ;

For God within her heart and mind
A priceless jewel hath enshrined.
It seemed as if a seraph's hand

Had touched her soul, and woke the strings
Of music, passionate and bland.
And filled with heaven's echoings,
Till her pure spirit seemed to be
Attuned to perfect harmony.

With music as a child she played

I see her as I saw her then
The baby fingers lightly strayed
Along her treasured violin ;

The sunbeams hidden in her hair,
Her lovely soul-lit face a prayer ;
The blue eyes filled with liquid tears,

Moved by her own sweet plaintive strains ;
Till, gazing, I forgot her years,

Forgot earth's sorrows, losses, pains,

And had no thought but one of praise
To Him who solaced thus my days.

With trembling hope, and pleasure rare,
I watched my darling's pearl of fame,
Her wondrous gift, that promised fair
In distant lands to crown her name.
To scatter joys around her way
Made life a pleasant holiday.
I could not stray from virtue's ways,

Her presence, like the breath of grace,
With innocence perfumed my days,
And summer made in darkest place.

Beneath her love earth blooming smiled
Yet she was but a little child.

And while we two walked in the light

Of happy joys too deep to tell,
And each day gave her charms more bright,
I saw not where the shadows fell ;
I felt no warning chill of fear
To whisper sorrow hovered near.
It found my heart one Sabbath day,

And shattered all my golden dream ;
I saw my treasure fade away

As fades the lily by the stream ;

The hopes of years lay crushed and hid
Beneath a little coffin lid.

The ringing of the Sabbath bells,
The sunlight fading on the sea,
Primroses peeping in the dells,

All speak and breathe of her to me ;
In all things beautiful and sweet
I see and hear my Marguerite.
One day this dark, dark hour will pass,

And to embalm thy memory,
Low kneeling in the tender grass
I'll bring my patience palm to thee,
With holy resignation blest,
" May-flower, I know thy lot is best."

Forgive me, Maggie ! music's child,

Thit lyric gems I cannot weave,
Only a spray of daisies wild

Laid on thy grave this fair May eve.

Ah ! didst thou live, how many a pen
Would praise thee and thy violin.
I only try my little part

In sympathy's all-soothing power,
To plant within a father's heart

The smallest seed of comfort's flower,
And, 'mid the bitter weeds of grief,
To cast one tiny shining leaf.


Western Wind.


her again, O western wind,

Over the western sea.
Gentle and good, and fair and kind,

Bring her again to me;
Not that her fancy holds me dear,

Not that a hope may be,
Only that I may know her near,

Wind of the western sea.

Bring her with all her winning grace

Out of the shades to me,
Sunshine of heart, and charm of face,

And voice of melody ;
While the glad strains of vanished hours

Wake silent harmony,
Bring her like scent of sweet wild-flowers,

Wind of the western sea.


Only to make the present glow

With tender rosy beams,
Treasured from lights of long ago,

Like scenes revived in dreams ;
Breathe her dear name, soft sighing breeze,

Whisper it secretly,
Laden with golden memories,

Wind of the western sea.


Jl Ballad. .


ACK to well-beloved Ireland,

While my failing eyes can see
Her green hills and pleasant valleys,

And her rivers rushing free.
Now, farewell, brave land of freedom,

Fortune, fame and friends I've met
On your shores, but round my heart-strings

Is the old land twining yet."
It was thus an old man murmured

When we first put out to sea,
And at morning, noon, and evening,

Thus he prayed incessantly.

" Back to brave enduring Ireland,

Where, in bitterness and tears,
The glad smile of hope shone ever

Like a rainbow in dark years ;
Where the blood of many thousands

Of her glorious martyred land
Made the gospel ray shine brighter,

Grace diffusing through the land."
Thus he prayed his prayer of longing

As the ship sped o'er the sea,
Till in hearts that prayer re-echoed

Like an old sweet melody.

(31 )

'' Back to sainted patient Ireland,

l-aithful still in pain and loss,
With her brave arms ever ready

To embrace God's blessed cross ;
: ighing out her many sorrows

In sad tale or thrilling song, '
Till her children, nigh despairing,

Cry ' O Lord ! how long, how long
Long the voyage seemed, and weary,

To the isle of destiny,
And the old man's voice grew feeble,

But he prayed more fervently.

" Back to genial, courteous Ireland,

To the friends, the haunts I knew,
To the kindly loving people,

And her soggarts oh, so true ;
Where the welcome joins with blessings

In the dear soft Gaelic tongue,
Where the prayer, ' God speed ye/ trembles

On the lips of old and young."
Every morning saw the old man

Gazing sadly out to sea,
And the hush of evening found him

Praying still on bended knee.

"Take me back to fettered, Ireland,

For 'tis from her virgin sod
That my soul would >ving in freedom

To the city of her God.
Mother, Mary, Queen of Heaven,

True to thee my land hath been,
And I know that thou wilt give me

Strength to reach my crownless Queen."
Mingled with the wind's wild sobbing,

And the surging of the sea,
Rose that prayer of warm devotion

With increasing fervency.

" Haste, good ship, the shadows gather,

And the long night draweth nigh,
Land, the land I love, is nearing,

All is peace now I may die.
I shall rest behind the chapel

Where the kindly neighbours pass,
They will pray God's mercy on me

Coming out from Sunday's Mass."
Now his voice is faint and feeble,

But we heard it on the sea,
Praying for a grave in Ireland

E'en a grave there sweet would be.


One May evening through the valley

Where his childhood years were passed,
Tenderly they bore the old man

To his longed-for home at last.
'Neath the shamrock turf they laid him,

On green Erin's mother breast,
In the homely country churchyard

With his kindred hearts at rest.
From the land of his adoption

Refuge of the brave and free
For a grave in holy' Ireland

He had journeyed o'er the sea.


cH Conundrum.

/'M writ of in story, I'm chanted in song,

r And rare are the charms that to me belong,

A thing of fair beauty, with gems sparkling o'er,

Bright turquoise and star-pearls carpet my floor ;

A household companion that gives welcome glad

To the home-comer weary, and cheers him when sad.

I'm green as the em'rald, I'm black as the sloe,

Yet out from my heart shines the vermilion glow ;

The hopes that are dearest are pledged on my breast,

And many a cherished hope finds in me rest.

A friend in all seasons, a national treasure,

For miles over mountains men bear me with pleasure ;

The palace of fairies, the birth-place of flowers,

Youth sports on my bosom in bright summer hours ;

And often above me, at eve's misty haze,

Age tells of the visions that lighted past days.

Yet though rare are the charms that to me belong,

To hearts and to homes I've brought sorrow and wrong,

Shattered hopes, blackened honour, robbed life of its bloorm

And planted the cypress o'er many a tomb.

For ever the upas flower twines round my name,

Dark ruin and misery, falsehood and shame,

Their baneful shades cast o'er this joy-gift you prize,

Like most fairest blessings beneath Heaven's skies.

( 35 )

Tlje Child's Petelj.

ILL toiled as hard as any of us,

Since dawn of early day,
Yet well I knew he'd no heart for work

And his thoughts were far away ;
His eyes were dim from the long night-watch

By his pale wee girleen's bed.
Dropping his spade with a weary air,

" I'll just step to home," he said,
' And see how the child is doing/'

So I bade him a kind " God-speed."
Maureen, the last of the little flock

'Twas so hard to clothe and feed,
Would soon be under the daisy-blooms,

And his home an empty nest ;
Who'd see poor Bill and the old wife laid

With their kith and kin at rest ?

The flowers drooped low in the rich still air,
So fierce was the sun's red blush

The song-birds sat on the branching bough
Too lazy to break the hush

I always feel in the summer's prime
Deep yearnings, I know not why,


The dead and heaven seem nearer earth,

Or earth seems nearer the sky.
I stood by the lilac tree that grows

The informer's grave beside
(He bartered for gold the brave boys' lives,

Next night the traitor died),
Fixing my eyes on Bill's cabin door,

Soon I saw it backwards swing,
Then, sure as the moon shines round us here.

There happened this strange weird thing.

Maureen stepped out on the sunny sward,

I saw her as plain as day,
The bare brown feet, the muckinger* white,

And rocket of wincey grey.
You may call it a dream or a fancy,

There the colleen stood and smiled,
Now what could Bill be talking abou*-,

Or was he with trouble wild ?
Yet the child was shadow-like and changed,

As if under charm or spell,
The sunbeams made her a path of light

As crimson and gold they fell ;
Upward and onward she seemed to float,

Above the flowers and the grass,
I watched her far o'er the wooded cliffs

And along the valley pass.

*MUCKINGER A Pinafore.

She seemed to blend with the golden haze

And fade from my straining sight,
And I felt a creeping kind of dread

Like passing a grave at night.
Half-dazed I stood by the lilac old,

Nor moved till somebody said :
" God help us, John, 'tis a black bleak world,

Bill Connelly's child is dead."
Then, ringing loud in the silent fields.

Wild wailings of anguish rose,
The mother's passionate Irish keen,

Thrilling our hearts with its woes.
Yes, call it a dream or a fancy,

I j-aw it as now I see
The shimmering sheen of the moonbeams,

Your face, and the lilac tree.


Treasure from ttye Old Land,

O HE left for lack of daily bread,

Home, country, friends and race,
Youth's summer bloom was in her heart,

Youth's glory on her face,
When last she saw the setting sun

Gild fair Lough Corrib's shore,
And knew that pleas int fading scene

Would greet her eyes no more.

" Cead mille failthe, father,

Sure you're welcome as the May,
In Southern Africa I've grown

Full weary, old and gray ;
Yet Ireland holds my heart in chains

Strong, tender, true and fond.
I love her tongue, her priests, her saints,

Her faith, all gifts beyond.

" An Irish priest, Ah ! God be praised !

There is music in the words ;
I see the misty shrouded pines,

The shamrocks and the birds,
The chapel at the mountain's foot,

The church-yard and the wood,
The shieling on the bleak road-side

Where oft our soggarth stood.


" Our hearts with bitter trouble then

Were sore and black as night,
But when he crossed the threshold, sure

It made the cold 'hearts bright ;
Like sunshine on the cabin floor

He left his words to cheer,
Hard things seemed easier to bear,

And heaven and rest more near.

" I'm happy, as your Reverence says,

In such good company,
The Sacred Heart, Our Lady, and

St. Joseph Blessed Three
With dear St. Patrick, yes, 'tis true

I have my treasures rare,
And father, see, a precious gift

Rests on my table there.

" Tis nothing but a sod of turf

That- came from holy Knock,
I prize it more than pearls or gold

Kept under bolt and lock.

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Online LibraryHelena CallananVerses old and new → online text (page 1 of 4)