Padraic Colum.

Anthology of Irish verse online

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I noted not; I gazed a while, and then no more!

I saw her once, one little while, and then no more:
'Twas Paradise on Earth a while, and then no more.
Ah ! what avail my vigils pale, my magic lore ?
She shone before mine eyes awhile, and then no more.
The shallop of my peace is wrecked on Beauty's shore.
Near Hope's fair isle it rode awhile, and then no more !

I saw her once, one little while, and then no more:

Earth looked like Heaven a little while, and then no more.

Her presence thrilled and lighted to its inner core

My desert breast a little while, and then no more.

So may, perchance, a meteor glance at midnight o'er

Some ruined pile a little while, and then no more!

I saw her once, one little while, and then no more:

The earth was Peri-land awhile, and then no more.

Oh, might I see but once again, as once before,

Through chance or wile, that shape awhile, and then no

Death soon would heal my griefs ! This heart, now sad and

Would beat anew a little while, and then no more.



Maire My Girl

QVER the dim blue hills

Strays a wild river,
Over the dim blue hills
Rests my heart ever.
Dearer and brighter than
Jewels and pearl,
Dwells she in beauty there,
Maire my girl.

Down upon Claris heath
Shines the soft berry,
On the brown harvest tree
Droops the red cherry.
Sweeter thy honey lips,
Softer the curl
Straying adown thy cheeks,
Maire my girl.

'Twas on an April eve
That I first met her;
Many an eve shall pass
Ere I forget her.
Since my young heart has been
Wrapped in a whirl,
Thinking and dreaming of
Maire my girl.


She is too kind and fond

Ever to grieve me,

She has too pure a heart

E'er to deceive me.

Was I Tyrconnell's chief

Or Desmond's earl,

Life would be dark, wanting

Maire my girl.

Over the dim blue hills
Strays a wild river,
Over the dim blue hills
Rests my heart ever;
Dearer and brighter than
Jewels or pearl,
Dwells she in beauty there,
Maire my girl.




r |^O drift with every passion till my soul

Is as a stringed lute on which all winds can play,
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice- written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay,
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.

Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God :
Is that time dead ? Lo ! with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance
And must I lose my soul's inheritance?



In the Streets of Catania

("The streets of Catania are paved with blocks of the lava
of ^Etna")

ALL that was beautiful and just,

All that was pure and sad
Went in one little, moving plot of dust
The world called bad.

Came like a highwayman, and went,

One who was bold and gay,

Left when his lightly loving mood was spent

Thy heart to pay.

By-word of little street and men,
Narrower theirs the shame,
Tread thou the lava loving leaves, and then
Turn whence it came.

JEtnz, all wonderful, whose heart
Glows as thine throbbing glows,
Almond and citron bloom quivering at start,
Ends in pure snows.



The Doves

'JTHE house where I was born,

Where I was young and gay,
Grows old amid its corn,
Amid its scented hay.

Moan of the cushat dove,
In silence rich and deep;
The old head I love
Nods to its quiet sleep.

Where once were nine and ten
Now two keep house together ;
The doves moan and complain
All day in the still weather.

What wind, bitter and great,
Has swept the country's face,
Altered, made desolate
The heart-remembered place?

What wind, bitter and wild,
Has swept the towering trees
Beneath whose shade a child
Long since gathered heartease?

Under the golden eaves
The house is still and sad,
As though it grieves and grieves
For many a lass and lad.


The cushat doves complain
All day in the still weather;
Where once were nine or ten
But two keep house together.


Sheep and Lambs

A LL in the April evening,
April airs were abroad;
The sheep with their little lambs
Passed me by on the road.

The sheep with their little lambs
Passed me by on the road;
All in the April evening
I thought on the Lamb of God.

The lambs were weary and crying
With a weak, human cry.
I thought on the Lamb of God
Going meekly to die.

Up in the blue, blue mountains
Dewy pastures are sweet;
Rest for the little bodies,
Rest for the little feet.

But for the Lamb of God,
Up on the hill-top green,
Only a cross of shame
Two stark crosses between.

All in the April evening,
April airs were abroad ;
I saw the sheep with their lambs,
And thought on the Lamb of God.


The Pity of Love

A PITY beyond all telling

Is hid in the heart of love:
The folk who are buying and selling,
The clouds on their journey above,
The cold, wet winds ever blowing,
And the shadowy hazel grove
Where mouse-grey waters are flowing
Threaten the head that I love.



The Folly of Being Comforted

/"\NE that is ever kind said yesterday:

"Your well beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise,
Though now it's hard, till trouble is at an end;
And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend."
But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain;
Time can but make her beauty over again,
Because of that great nobleness of hers;
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways,
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.
O heart ! O heart ! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.




"PHINK, the ragged turf-boy urges

O'er the dusty road his asses;
Think, on the seashore for the lonely
Heron wings along the sand.
Think, in woodland under oak-boughs
Now the streaming sunbeam passes :
And bethink thee thou art servant
To the same all-moving hand.




E MUST pass like smoke or live within the spirit's fire;
For we can no more than smoke unto the flame return
If our thought has changed to dream, our will unto desire,
As smoke we vanish though the fire may burn.

Lights of infinite pity star the grey dusk of our days:
Surely here is soul : with it we have eternal breath :
In the fire of love we live, or pass by many ways,
By unnumbered ways of dream to death.

"A. E."


A Farewell

T GO down from the hill in gladness, and half with a pain I

Where the Mother with gentlest breathing made music on lip

and in heart;
For I know that my childhood is over: a call comes out of

the vast,

And the love that I had in the old time, like beauty in twi-
light, is past.

I am fired by a Danaan whisper of battles afar in the world,
And my thought is no longer of peace, for the banners in

dream are unfurled,
And I pass from the council of stars and of hills to a life

that is new:
And I bid to you stars and you mountains a tremulous long


I will come once again as a master, who played here as a
child in my dawn;

I will enter the heart of the hills where the gods of the old
world are gone.

And will war like the bright Hound of Ulla with princes of
earth and of sky.

For my dre'am is to conquer the heavens and battle for king-
ship on high.

"A. E."


To Morfydd

A VOICE on the winds,

A voice by the waters,
Wanders and cries :
Oh ! 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 :
Oh ! what are the winds ?
And what are the waters?

Mine are your eyes !

Cold, cold, grow the winds,
And wild grow the waters,

Where the sun dies:
Oh! 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 :
Oh ! what are the winds ?
And what are the waters?
Cold be the winds,
And wild be the waters,

So mine be your eyes!


Love on the Mountain

JMTY LOVE comes down from the mountain

Through the mists of dawn;
I look, and the star of the morning
From the sky is gone.

My love comes down from the mountain,
At dawn, dewy-sweet;

Did you step from the star to the mountain,
O little white feet?

whence came your twining tresses
And your shining eyes,

But out of the gold of the morning
And the blue of the skies?

The misty morning is burning

In the sun's red fire,

And the heart in my breast is burning

And lost in desire.

1 follow you into the valley
But no word can I say;

To the East or the West I will follow
Till the dusk of my day.




ESTABLISH in some better way

My life, thou Godhead! that I may
Know it as virtue ranks
To scorn Thy gifts, or give Thee thanks.

For now I feel Thee near, unsought.
But why, when I seemed worth Thy thought,
High-souled, impatient for a task
Why not have called me then, I ask?

No mountings of the spirit please;
Thou dost accept our dregs and lees;
The wise are they that feel Thy rod,
And grief alone is near to God.



Mad Song

T HEAR the wind a-blowing,
I hear the corn a-growing,
I hear the Virgin praying,
I hear what she is saying!


The Wings of Love

J WILL row my boat on Muckross Lake when the grey of

the dove

Comes down at the end of the day; and a quiet like prayer
Grows soft in your eyes, and among your fluttering hair
The red of the sun is mixed with the red of your cheek.
I will row you, O boat of my heart ! till our mouths have for-
gotten to speak

In the silence of love, broken only by trout that spring
And are gone, like a fairy's finger that casts a ring
With the luck of the world for the hand that can hold it fast.
I will rest on my oars, my eyes on your eyes, till our thoughts

have passed

From the lake and the sky and the rings of the jumping fish;
Till our ears are filled from the reeds with a sudden swish,
And a sound like the beating of flails in the time of corn.
We shall hold our breath while a wonderful thing is born
From the songs that were chanted by bards in the days gone

by; m

For a wild white swan shall be leaving the lake for the sky,
With the curve of her neck stretched out in a silver spear.
Oh! then when the creak of her wings shall have brought

her near,

We shall hear again a swish, and a beating of flails,
And a creaking of oars, and a sound like the wind in sails,
As the mate of her heart shall follow her into the air.
O wings of my soul! we shall think of Angus and Caer,
And Etain and Midir, that were changed into wild white


To fly round the ring of the heavens, through the dusks and

the dawns,

Unseen by all but true lovers, till judgment day,
Because they had loved for love only. O love ! I will say,
For a woman and man with eternity ringing them round,
And the heavens above and below them, a poor thing it is to

be bound

To four low walls that will spill like a pedlar's pack,
And a quilt that will run into holes, and a churn that will

dry and crack.
Oh! better than these, a dream in the night, or our heart's

mute prayer
That O'Donoghue, the enchanted man, should pass between

water and air,

And say, I will change them each to a wild white swan,
Like the lovers Angus and Midir, and their loved ones, Caer

and Etain,
Because they have loved for love only, and have searched

through the shadows of things
For the Heart of all hearts, through the fire of love, and the

wine of love, and the wings.



On a Poet Patriot

JTIS songs were a little phrase

Of eternal song,
Drowned in the harping of lays
More loud and long.

His deed was a single word,

Called out alone
In a night when no echo stirred

To laughter or moan.

But his songs new souls shall thrill,

The loud harps dumb,
And his deed the echoes fill

When the dawn is come.



Wishes for My Son

Born on Saint Cecilia's Day, 1912

, my son, is life for you,
And I wish you joy of it,
Joy of power in all you do,
Deeper passion, better wit
Than I had who had enough,
Quicker life and length thereof,
More of every gift but love.

Love I have beyond all men,
Love that now you share with me
What have I to wish you then
But that you be good and free,
And that God to you may give
Grace in stronger days to live?

For I wish you more than I
Ever knew of glorious deed,
Though no rapture passed me by
That an eager heart could heed,
Though I followed heights and sought
Things the sequel never brought.

Wild and perilous holy things
Flaming with a martyr's blood,
And the joy that laughs and sings
Where a foe must be withstood,
Joy of headlong happy chance
Leading on the battle dance.


But I found no enemy,
No man in a world of wrong,
That Christ's word of charity
Did not render clean and strong
Who was I to judge my kind,
Blindest groper of the blind?

God to you may give the sight
And the clear, undoubting strength
Wars to knit for single right,
Freedom's war to knit at length,
And to win through wrath and strife,
To the sequel of my life.

But for you, so small and young,
Born on Saint Cecilia's Day,
I in more harmonious song
Now for nearer joys should pray
Simpler joys: the natural growth
Of your childhood and your youth,
Courage, innocence, and truth:

These for you, so small and young,
In your hand and heart and tongue.



/"\VER the wave-patterned sea-floor,

v Over the long sunburnt ridge of the world,

I bid the winds seek you.

I bid them cry to you

Night and morning

A name you loved once;

I bid them bring to you

Dreams, and strange imaginings, and sleep.



The Sedges

T WHISPERED my great sorrow

To every listening sedge;
And they bent, bowed with my sorrow,
Down to the water's edge.

But she stands and laughs lightly

To see me sorrow so,
Like the light winds that laughing

Across the water go.

If I could tell the bright ones

That quiet-hearted move,
They would bend down like the sedges

With the sorrow of love.

But she stands laughing lightly,
Who all my sorrow knows,

Like the little wind that laughing
Across the water blows.



The Half Door

T}ARK eyes, wonderful, strange and dear they shone

A moment's space ;

And wandering under the white stars I had gone
In a strange place.

Over the half door careless, your white hand

A moment gleamed;
And I was walking on some great storm-heaped strand

Forever it seemed.

I would give all that glory to see once more,

A moment's space,
Your eyes gleam strange and dark above the half door,

Your hand's white grace.



This Heart That Flutters Near My Heart

'T'HIS heart that flutters near my heart

My hope and all my riches is,
Unhappy when we draw apart

And happy between kiss and kiss;
My hope and all my riches yes !

And all my happiness.

For there, as in some mossy nest

The wrens will divers treasures keep,

I laid those treasures I possessed

Ere that mine eyes had learned to weep.

Shall we not be as wise as they
Though love live but a day?


/ Hear an Army

J HEAR an army charging upon the land,

And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their

knees :

Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers,

They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon my heart as upon an anvil.

They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?



To Death

J HAVE not gathered gold ;

The fame that I won perished;
In love I found but sorrow,

That withered my life.

Of wealth or of glory

I shall leave nothing behind me

(I think it, O God, enough!)

But my name in the heart of a child.

Translated by Thomas MacDonagh.



JtfAKED I saw thee,

O beauty of beauty!
And I blinded my eyes
For fear I should flinch.

I heard thy music,

sweetness of sweetness!
And I shut my ears

For fear I should fail.

1 kissed thy lips

sweetness of sweetness!
And I hardened my heart
For fear of my ruin.

1 blinded my eyes
And my ears I shut,
I hardened my heart
And my love I quenched.

I turned my back
On the dream I had shaped,
And to this road before me
My face I turned.

I set my face

To the road here before me,
To the work that I see,
To the death that I shall meet.
Translated by Thomas MacDonagh.



T'LL be an otter, and I'll let you swim

A mate beside me; we will venture down
A deep, dark river, when the sky above
Is shut of the sun; spoilers are we,
Thick-coated; no dog's tooth can bite at our veins,
With eyes and ears of poachers; deep-earthed ones
Turned hunters; let him slip past
The little vole; my teeth are on an edge
For the King-fish of the River !

I hold him up

The glittering salmon that smells of the sea;
I hold him high and whistle!

Now we go

Back to our earths ; we will tear and eat
Sea-smelling salmon; you will tell the cubs
I am the Booty-bringer, I am the Lord
Of the River; the deep, dark, full and flowing River!



The Betrayal

"IjiT'HEN you were weary, roaming the wide world over,

I gave my fickle heart to a new lover.
Now they tell me that you are lying dead :
O mountains fall on me and hide my head !

When you lay burning in the throes of fever,

He vowed me love by the willow-margined river:

Death smote you there here was your trust betrayed,

darkness, cover me, I am afraid!

Yea, in the hour of your supremest trial,

1 laughed with him ! The shadows on the dial
Stayed not, aghast at my dread ignorance :
Nor man nor angel looked at me askance.

Under the mountains there is peace abiding^
Darkness shall be pavilion for my hiding,
Tears shall blot out the sin of broken faith,
The lips that falsely kissed, shall kiss but Death.



The Daisies

TN THE scented bud of the morning O,
When the windy grass went rippling


I saw my dear one walking slow,
In the field where the daisies are.

We did not laugh and we did not speak
As we wandered happily to and fro;

I kissed my dear on either cheek,
In the bud of the morning O.

A lark sang up from the breezy land,
A lark sang down from a cloud afar,

And she and I went hand in hand
In the field where the daisies are.



The Goat Paths

TPHE crooked paths go every way
Upon the hill they wind about
Through the heather in and out
Of the quiet sunniness.
And there the goats, day after day,
Stray in sunny quietness,
Cropping here and cropping there,
As they pause and turn and pass,
Now a bit of heather spray,
Now a mouthful of the grass.

In the deeper sunniness,

In the place where nothing stirs,

Quietly in quietness,

In the quiet of the furze,

For a time they come and lie

Staring on the roving sky.

If you approach they run away,
They leap and stare, away they bound,
With a sudden angry sound,
To the sunny quietude;
Crouching down where nothing stirs
In the silence of the furze,
Crouching down again to brood
In the sunny solitude.


If I were as wise as they,
I would stray apart and brood,
I would beat a hidden way
Through the quiet heather spray
To a sunny solitude;

And should you come I'd run away,
I would make an angry sound,
I would stare and turn and bound
To the deeper quietude,
To the place where nothing stirs
In the silence of the furze.

In that airy quietness
I would think as long as they ;
Through the quiet sunniness
I would stray away to brood
By a hidden, beaten way
In the sunny solitude,

I would think until I found
Something I can never find,
Something lying on the ground,
In the bottom of my mind.



The Spark

JJECAUSE I used to shun

Death and the mouth of hell
And count my battles won
If I should see the sun
The blood and smoke dispel.

Because I used to pray
That living I might see
The dawning light of day
Set me upon my way
And from my fetters free,
Because I used to seek
Your answer to my prayer
And that your soul should speak
For strengthening of the weak
To struggle with despair,

Now I have seen my shame
That I should thus deny
My soul's divinest flame,
Now shall I shout your name,
Now shall I seek to die

By any hands but these
In battle or in flood,
On any lands or seas,
No more shall I spare ease,
No more shall I spare blood

When I have need to fight
For heaven or for your heart,


Against the powers of light
Or darkness I shall smite
Until their might depart,

Because I know the spark
Of God has no eclipse,
Now Death and I embark
And sail into the dark
With laughter on our lips.

A Silent Mouth

r\ LITTLE green leaf on the bough, you hear the lark in

You hear the grey feet of the wind stir in the shimmering


You hear, low down in the grass,
The Singing Sidhe as they pass,
Do you ever hear, O little green flame,
My loved one calling, whispering my name?

little green leaf on the bough, like my lips you must ever

be dumb,

For a maiden may never speak until love to her heart says

A mouth in its silence is sweet
But my heart cries loud when we meet,
And I turn my head with a bitter sigh
When the boy who has stolen my love, unheeding, goes by.

1 have made my heart as the stones in the street for his tread,
I have made my love as the shadow that falls from his dear

gold head,

But the stones with his footsteps ring,
And the shadow keeps following,

And just as the quiet shadow goes ever beside or before,
So must I go silent and lonely and loveless for evermore.



He Whom a Dream Hath Possessed

JJE WHOM a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of

For mist and the blowing of winds and the mouthing of

words he scorns;
Not the sinuous speech of schools he hears, but a knightly

And never comes darkness down, yet he greeteth a million


He whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of roam-

All roads and the flowing of waves and the speediest flight
he knows,

But wherever his feet are set, his soul is forever homing,

And going he comes, and coming he heareth a call and goes.

He whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of sorrow,
At death and the dropping of leaves and the fading of suns

he smiles,
For a dream remembers no past and scorns the desire of a

And a dream in a sea of doom sets surely the ultimate isles.

He whom a dream hath possessed treads the impalpable

From the dust of the day's long road he leaps to a laughing


And the ruin of worlds that fall he views from eternal arches,
And rides God's battlefield in a flashing and golden car,,



The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth

jyj Y HEART lies light in my own breast
That yesterday in yours found rest.

Indeed, beloved, I would stay
With you to-day as yesterday;

But oh! the being comes and goes,
The spirit is a wind that blows.

Though lip to lip no more we press
Our spirits feel that tenderness

That woke within us here and fled
To its own heaven overhead.

It sits there in a starry place,
With looks of longing on its face

And beckons us to mount and find
The love that fled upon the wind.

Not the old wayward child to see
But some bright-haired divinity.



The Apple-Tree

J SAW the archangels in my apple-tree last night,

I saw them like great birds in the starlight
Purple and burning blue, crimson and shining white.

And each to each they tossed an apple to and fro,
And once I heard their laughter gay and low;
And yet I felt no wonder that it should be so.

But when the apple came one time to Michael's lap

I heard him say: "The mysteries that enwrap

The earth and fill the heavens can be read here, mayhap."

Then Gabriel spoke: "I praise the deed, the hidden thing."

"The beauty of the blossom of the spring

I praise," cried Raphael. Uriel : "The wise leaves I sing."

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