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THomos
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THE
POETICAL WORKS OF
THOMAS MacDONAGH



Printed, September. 1916.
Reprinted, October. 1916.
Reprinted, January, 1917.






THE

Poetical Works

OF

Thomas MacDonagh



T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd.

London : Adelphi Terrace
1917



T



/



Printed by

The Educational Company of Ireland

at

The Talbot Press

89 Talbot St., Dublin



CONTENTS


SONGS OF MYSKIyF page


In tlie Storm


5


In Absence


6


In an Island


7


After a Year


8


The Suicide


11


In Fever


12


In Dread


13


A Dream of Age


14


The Anchoret


15


In Calm


18


In September


17


At the End


18


Our Story


19


To Boghan


20


Death


21


The Rain it Rainett


L ... ... 22


Death in the Woods


23


At Dawn


26


My Poet


27


Requies


28


A Song of Another


29


A Woman


31


A Dream of Being


32


Two Songs from the


; Irish ... ... 38


John-John


41


To a Wise Man


44


Offering


45


Envoi


46



▼,



582188



vi. CONTENTS



LYRICAL POEMS page

Author's Preface ... ... ... 7

Of My Poems ... ... ... 9

Grange House Lodge ... ... 12

The Song of Joy ... ... -14

Thk Book of Imagss

I. Introit ... ... ... 25

II. Images ... ... ... 26

III. The Tree of Knowledge ... 30

IV. O Star of Death ... ... 34

V. Litany of Beauty ... ... 39

VI. The Great ... ... ... 44

VII. The Poet Captain ... ... 46

VIII. The Golden Joy ... .... 50

TRANSI.ATIONS

The Yellow Bittern ... ... 65

Druimfhionn Donn Dilis ... ... 68

Isn't it Pleasant for the Little Birds ... 70

Eve ... ... ... ... 71

Catullus : VIII. ... ... ... 72

Catullus : LXXVI. ... ... ... 74

EARI.Y POKMS

When in the Forenoon of the Year ... 79

I Heard a Music Sweet To-day ... 81

Love is Cruel, Love is Sweet ... 82

The House in the Wood beside the Lake 83

A Dream of Hell ... ... ... 88

Of a Poet Patriot ... ... ... 91

Of a Greek Poem ... ... ... 92

Ideal ... ... ... ••• 93

The Seasons and the Leaves ... 94



CONTENTS



Vll.



Early Poems— continued

A Season of Repose

With only This for Likeness, only These

Words
Fairy Tales

The Coming-in of Summer
O Bursting Bud of Joy
For Victory

Of the Man of My First Play
Envoi : 1904

Inscriptions

I. Of Ireland

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

In Paris

The Night Hunt

The Man Upright

Wishes for My Son

Postscriptum

Notes



PAGE

96

104
106
107
109
110
112
113



117
117
118
118
118
119
120
121
124
127
130
131



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS

Barbara

W^ithin the Temple

To James Clarence Mangan

Snow at Morning

The Sentimentalist

The Poet Saint

Luna Dies et Nox et Noctis Signa Severa

May Day



135

140
141
143
144
145
147
148



viii. CONTENTS

Miscellaneous Poems — continued page

Eamonn an Chnuic ... ... 150

Corinac 6g ... ... ... 152

Quando Ver Venit Meum ? ... ... 154

Averil ... ... ... ... 155

Sundown ... ... ... 157

My Love to-night ... ... ... 158

Uber alien gipfellen ist ruh ... ... 159

To my Lady ... ... ... 160

To Eoghan ... ... ... 162

The Stars ... ... ... 164

Catullus : V. ... ... ... 165

Dublin Tramcars ... ... ... 166

The Philistine ... ... ... 167

Inscription on a Ruin ... ... 168



TT is strange to look back to the time when
I first knew Thomas MacDonagh. What
with the present great war in Europe, and our
own small war in Ireland, that time has so faded
and retreated that one recalls it with difficulty
and regards it with something of astonishment —
yet it is only six years ago. Was there that
peace, that gentleness, that good-humour ? And
was the MacDonagh of April, 1916, the same
man with whom I walked and talked and quar-
relled in 1910 ? One could quarrel with Mac-
Donagh, but not for more than three minutes at
a time, and if he were ruffled the mere touch of
a hand or the wind of a pleasant word appeased
him instantly. I have seldom known a man in
whom the instinct for friendship was so true, nor
one who was so prepared to use himself in the
service of a friend. He was intensely egotistic
in his speech ; so, it seems to me, were all the
young Irishmen of that date ; but in his actions
he was utterly unselfish.

At that time he lived a kind of semi-detached
life at the gate-lodge of Mr. Houston's house in
the Dublin hills. To this house all literary
Dublin used to repair, and there MacDonagh was
constantly to be seen. He was a quaint recluse
who delighted in company, and he fled into and
out of solitude with equal precipitancy. He had

ix.



a longing for the hermit's existence and a gift
for gregarious life. At Grange House both these
aptitudes were met, and I think he was very con-
tent there. Out on the hills, walking across the
fields, or along the narrow roads curving to this
side and that, but always running upwards, he
would repeat his verses to me, and accompany
them and follow them with a commentary that
seemed endless as the bushes that lined our road.
Just then I was so interested in my own verse
I could not afford to be interested in anyone
else's, and I should say that my impression of
his poems agreed absolutely with his impressions
about mine.

In literary ways he was very learned, and
would quote from English and French and Latin
and Irish ; but in worldly ways he was an infant,
and he preserved that freshness of outlook and
candour of bearing until the end — an end that in
those days he did not dream of, or if he did,
he who reported everything did not report this
dream. I do not think he had any other am-
bition than to write good verse and to love his
friends, and the pleasure he found in these two
arts was the sole profit I ever knew him to seek
or to get.

There was a certain reserve behind his talka-
tiveness. Often, staring away at the hills or at
the sky, he would say, " Ah me !"— an interjec-
tion that never expressed itself further in words.



z.



Yet that interjection, always half humorous,
always half tragic, remains with me as more than
a memory. I think that when he faced the guns
which ended life and poetry and all else for him,
he said in his half humorous, half tragic way,
" Ah me !" and left the whole business at that.

Poor MacDonagh ! There went a good man
down when you went down.

About three weeks before the Insurrection I
met him for the last time. We walked together
for nearly an hour, and I remember he was salu-
ted in Grafton Street by three young men— three
of his Volunteers. At that time I am sure he
did not intend any rebellion. I did not ask him
much about the plans of the Volunteers, for when
one is not in a movement one has no right to ask
questions about it, and the only point we spoke
of was the possibility of their arms being seized.
His remark on that contingency was stern enough.
But I can find nothing in his speech with the
implication of rebellion. I think if he had medi-
tated this he would have emphasised some phrase
with his tongue or his eye, so that afterwards I
could remember it. Indeed he was so free from
all idea of immediate violence that he arranged to
ask me later on to talk to some of his boys about
the poetry of William Blake. One thing that he
said smilingly remains with me : " When are you
lads going to stop writing stories and do some-
thing ?" said he.

zi.



He had reserves to fall back on when the end
came — reserves of pride and imagination and
courage. An officer who witnessed the execu-
tions said, " They all died well, but MacDonagh
died like a prince."

Here are his collected poems. It is yet too
early for anything in the nature of literary criti-
cism. Recollection is too recent, his death too
tragic to permit it. I will only say to his country-
men : Here are the poems of a good man, and if,
outside of rebellion and violence, you wish to
know what his thoughts were like, you will find
all his thoughts here ; and here, more truly ex-
pressed than his public actions could tell it, you
will find exactly what kind of man he was.

James St:ephens.



10th August, 1916



xii.



Songs of Myself

THOMAS MacDONAGH



Two of these {>oems have appeared
in "The Nation " (London), and are
here reprinted by the kind permission
of the Editor.



■t * t* y * » >



IN THE STORM

With laughing eyes and storm-blown
hair

You came to my bedside;
I thought your living soul was there,

And that my dreams had lied;

But ere my lips had power to speak

A word of love to you,
The moonlight fell upon your cheek,

And it was of death's hue.

Sudden I heard the storm arise,

I heard its summons roll :
Wistful and w^ondering your eyes

Were fading from my soul.

The moonlight waned, and shadows thick
Went keening on the storm —

Ah ! for the quiet that was quick,
The cold heart that was warm. !



iD 317)



IN ABSENCE

Last night I read your letters once again —
Read till the dawn filled all my room with

grey;
Then quenched my light and put the

leaves away,
And prayed for sleep to ease my heart's

great pain.
But ah ! that poignant tenderness made

vain
My hope of rest — I could not sleep or

pray
For thought of you, and the slow, broad-
ening day
Held me there prisoner of my throbbing

brain.

Yet I did sleep before the silence broke,
And dream, but not of you — the old

dreams rife
With duties which would bind me to the

yoke
Of my old futile, lone, reluctant life :
I stretched my hands for help in the vain

strife,
And grasped these leaves, and to this

pain awoke.



IN AN ISLAND

'Mid an isle I stand,
Under its only tree :
The ocean around —
Around life eternity :
'Mid my life I stand,
Under the boughs of thee.



AFTER A YEAR

After a year of love
Death of love in a day;
And I who ever strove
To hold love in sure life
Now let it pass away
With no grief and no strife.

Pass — but it holds me yet;

Love, it would seem, may die;

But we can not forget

And can not be the same,

As lowly or as high.

As once, before this came.

Never as in old days

Can I again stoop low;

Never, now fallen, raise

Spirit and heart above

To where once life did show

The lone soul of my love.

8



AFTER A YEAR

None would the service ask
That she from love requires,
Making it not a task
But a high sacrament
Of all love's dear desires
And all life's grave intent.

And if she asked it not? —
Should I have loved her then? —
Such love was our one lot
And our true destiny.
Shall I find truth again? —
None could have known but she.

And she? — But it is vain
Her life now to surmise,
Whether of joy or pain,
After this borrowed year.
Memory may bring her sighs,
But will it bring a tear?

What if it brought love back? —
Love ? — Ah ! love died to-day —
She knew that our hearts lack
One thing that makes love true.
And I would not gainsay,
Told her I also knew.



ib SONGS OF MYSELF

And there an end of it —

I, who had never brooked

Such word as all unfit

For our sure love, brooked this-

Into her eyes I looked,

Left her without a kiss.



THE SUICIDE

Here when I have died,

And when my body is found,

They will bury it by the roadside
And in no blessed ground.

And no one my story will tell,

And no one will honour my name :

They will think that they bury well
The damned in their grave of shame.

But alike shall be at last

The shamed and the blessed place,
The future and the past,

Man's grace and man's disgrace.

Secure in their grave I shall be
From it all, and quiet then.

With no thought and no memory

Of the deeds and the dooms of men.



11



IN FEVER

I am withered and wizened and stiff and

old,
Sick and hot, and I sigh for the cold,
For the days when all of the world was

fresh
And all of me, my soul and my flesh, —
When my lips and my mouth were cool

as the dew,
And my eyes, now worn, as clear, as new.
I wish I were lying out in the rain
In the wood at home, that the waters

might strain
And stream through me — But here I lie
In a clammy room, and my soul is dry.
And shall never be fresh again till I die.



12



IN. DREAD

All day in widowed loneliness and dread
Haunted I went, fearing that all your
love
Was dead, and all my joy, as sudden
dead
As once were sudden born our joy
and love.



IS



A DREAM OF AGE

I dreamt last night that I was very old,

And very lonesome, very sad of heart;

And, shunning men, dwelt in a place
apart

Where none my barren sorrow might be-
hold;

There brooded grim beside my hearth-
stone cold

Cold days of shadow, dying, till with
flame

Of happy memory once more you came

With laughing eyes and hair of burning
gold.

— O eyes of sudden joy ! O storm-
blown hair !
O pale face of my love ! why do you rise
Amid the haunting spectres of despair
To trouble their gaunt vigil with my

cries ? —
In tears I woke and knew the dream was

true :
My youth was lost, and lost the love of
you.



14



THE ANCHORET

I saw thy soul stand in the moon

Last night, the live-long night —
The jewels of Heaven in thy hand,
Thy brow with cherub coronal spanned,
And thou in God's light.

Hell is the demons' gulfed lair

Beneath the flaming bars;
And Heaven, whereto thou goest soon,
Beyond thy dwelling in the moon

And beyond the stars.

But Purgatory, thine old abode

Since Life's impure delay,
Towers athwart the circling air
Whose topmost Heaven-reaching stair

Thou dost tread to-day.

Thy soul within the moon doth stand —

How many years of toil !
And I must bear a greater load,
And I must climb a harder road

Ere God me assoil 1



15



IN CALM

Not a wind blows and I have cried for
storm !
The night is still and sullen and too
bright,
Still and not cold, — the airs around me
warm
Rise, and I hate them, and I hate the
night.

Yet I shall hate the day more than the
hush
Henceforth forever, as life more than
death ; —
And I have cried to hear the wild winds
rush
To drown my words, to drown my
living breath.



16



IN SEPTEMBER

The winds are in the wood again to-day,
Not moaning as they moan among
bare boughs
In winter dark, nor baying as they bay
When hunting in full moon, the spring
to rouse;

Nor as in summer, soft : the insistent rain

Hisses the woe of my void life to me ;

And the winds jibe me for my anguish

vain.

Sibilant, like waters of the washing

sea.



17



AT THE END

The songs that I sing

Should have told you an Easter story

Of a long sweet Spring

With its gold and its feasts and its glory

Of the moons then that married
Green May to the mellow September,
Long noons that ne'er tarried
Life's hail and farewell to remember —

But the haste of the years

Had rushed to the fall of our sorrow,

To the waste of our tears,

The hush and the pall of our morrow.



18



OUR STORY

There was a young king who was sad,
And a young queen who was lonely;

They lived together their busy life,
Known to each other only, —

Known to each other with strange love,
But with sighs for the king's vain
sorrow

And for the queen's vain loneliness
And vain forethought of the morrow.

After a barren while they died,
In death they were not parted :

Now in their grave perhaps they know
Why they were broken-hearted.



19



TO EOGHAN

Will you gaze after the dead, gaze into
the grave? —
Strain your eyes in the darkness,
knowing it vain?
Strain your voice in the silence that never
gave
To any voice or yours an answer
again ?

She whom you loved long years is dead,
and you
Stay, and you cannot bear it and cry
for her —
And life will cure this pain — or death :
you too
Shall quiet lie where cries no echo
stir.



20



DEATH

Life is a boon — and death, as spirit and
flesh are twain :

The body is spoil of death, the spirit
lives on death-free;

The body dies and its wound dies and
the mortal pain;

The wounded spirit lives, wounded im-
mortally.



21

(D 317)



THE RAIN IT RAINETH

The homeless bird has a weary time
When the wind is high and moans
through the grass :
The laughter has fainted out of my
rime —
Oh ! but the life that will moan and
pass !

An oak-tree wrestling on the hill,

And the wind wailing in the grass —

And life will strive with many an ill
For many a weary day ere it pass —

Wailing, wailing a winter threne

In the clouds on high and low in the
grass ;
So for my soul will he raise the keen
When I from the winds and the
winters pass.



22



DEATH IN THE WOODS

When I am gone and you alone are living

here still,
You'll think of me when splendid the

storm is on the hill,
Trampling and militant here — what of

their village street? —
For the baying of winds in the woods to

me was music sweet.

Oh, for the storms again, and youth in

my heart again !
My spirit to glory strained, wild in this

wild wood then.
That now shall never strain — though I

think if the tempest should roll
I could rise and strive with death, and

smite him back from my soul.

23



24 SONGS OF MYSELF

But no wind stirs a leaf, and no cloud

hurries the moon;
I know that our lake to-night with stars

and shadows is strewn —
A night for a villager's death, who will

shudder in his grave
To hear — alas, how long ! — the winds

above him rave.

How long! Ah, Death, what art thou,

a thing of calm or of storms?
Or twain — their peace to them, to me thy

valiant alarms?
Gladly I'd leave them this corpse in their

churchyard to lay at rest.
If my wind-swept spirit could fare on the

hurricane's kingly quest.

And sure 'tis the fools of knowledge who

feign that the winds of the world
Are but troubles of little calms by the

greater Calm enfurled :
I know them for symbols of glory, and

echoes of one Voice dread,
Sounding where spacious tempests house

the great-hearted Dead.



DEATH IN THE WOODS 25

And what but a fool was I, crying defiance

to Death,
Who shall lead my soul from this calm

to mingle with God's very breath ! —
Who shall lead me hither perhaps while

you are waiting here still,
Sighing for thought of me when the winds
^ are out on the hill.



AT DAWN

Lo ! 'tis the lark
Out in the sweet of the dawn!
Springing up from the dew of the lawn,
Singing over the gurth and the park ! —
O Dawn, red rose to change my life's grey

story !
O Song, mute lips burning to lyric glory !
O Joy ! Joy of the lark.
Over the dewy lawn,
Over the gurth and the park.
In the sweet of the dawn !



26



MY POET

—My poet the rose of his fancies
Wrought unwritten in verse,

And left but the lilies and pansies
To strew his early hearse.

—The master-dream of your poet
Has perished for ever then?
-What know we? Should we know i\
If it were born again?



27



REQUIES

He is dead, and never word of blame
Or praise of him his spirit hears,

Sacred, secure from cark of fame.
From sympathy of useless tears.



28



A SONG OF ANOTHER

FOR EOGHAN

Often enough the leaves have fallen there
Since Hfe for her was changed to other

care;
Often enough the winds that swept the

wave
And mocked my woe, have moaned over
her grave.

I will return : Death now can do no more
Anywhere on these seas or on the shore,
Since he has stilled her heart. I cannot

mourn
For her on these wild seas : I will return.

Death now can do no more. And what

but Death
Has any final power? He ceased her

breath,
Striking her dumb lips pallid; quenched

the lights
That were, O Death, my stars of the wild

nights

29



30 SONGS OF MYSELF

Out on rude ocean — quenched and closed

her eyes
That were, O Death, my stars of the

dawn-rise !

Long years ago her quiet form was thrust
Into the quiet earth; low in the dust
Her golden hair lies tarnished every

thread
These lone long years, tarnished and dim

and dead.

I will return to the far valley, blest
With her soul's presence, now her home

of rest —
(Where life was peace to her now death

is peace) —
There by her grave my pilgrimage may

cease ;
There life, there death, in my vain heart

shall stir
No passion but the old true love of her.



A WOMAN

Time on her face has writ

A hundred years,
And all the page of it

Blurred with his tears;

Yet in his holiest crypt
Treasuring the scroll,

Keeps the sweet manuscript
Fair as her soul.



31



A DREAM OF BEING

I walked in dream within a convent close,
And met there lonely a familiar nun;
Then in my mind arose
A vehement m^emory strife
With doubt of being, arose and was

fought and was won.
Trembling I said : " O mother of mv

life!"
And she in tears : " At last my fond

heart knows —
Surely I am the mother of my son ! "
And greeted me in dear maternal wise,
And asked me all the story of my days,
Silently garnering my quick replies,
Shamefastly holding breath upon my

praise
Of him to whom she plighted the world's

vows
(So ran the tale), my father, her loved

spouse.

32



A DREAM OF BEING 33

It did not then seem strange that this

should be
(A long time there we stayed in company)

Until she pondering said :
"And yet I chose the better part, my

child,
When from that world's love and from

thee I fled,

Leaving the wild
That I could never till aright and dreaded,
And sought this marriage garden unde-

filed.
The virgin of the Lover whom I wedded.

" Twenty years old I hither came,

Twenty years ago :
My child, if thy life were the same
As in this tale thou dreamest now to know,
These twenty years had been thine age

to-day."
I answered her : " It is my age to-day."

And then a while she mused, nor marked
the call

Of one monotonous bell, nor heard, with-
in the hall



34 SONGS OF MYSELF

Hard by, the lonesome-sounding late foot-
fall
Of one nun passing after the rest were

gone :
Within they filled their places one by one,
And a few wondered doubtless with vague
surmise.

Less on response devout,
Why still she tarried at that hour without.
I heard their voices rise and fall and rise
In their long prayer like quiet faded sighs
Calling from hearts that lost
Their passion long ago,
That are not toss'd
On waves that make them crying go
Ever at all or make them happily go.
She, quiet thus also.
And something sad.
Spoke on : " My child, what if I had
Chosen the other part, sought that world's
love

Of him thou tell'st me of.
And thus had stayed with thee? —
It had not then been better and not worse
(I pray that thus it be).
No blessing and no curse.
Making the only difference of thee.



A DREAM OF BEING 35

No difference at all (that is) or false or
true,

To welcome or to rue,
No difference, whether thou came to be

A man for men to see
Or all a dream, my dreaming soul to fill
With fancy thus an hour so waywardly.
I turn back to the plot of life I till

To fruit of such due virginal gifts

As my soul lifts
Within this Heaven's house
For twenty years unto my Lover and

Spouse :
I here return, and leave the dreamed plot

Which I have laboured not, —
Leave thee, my child, who never has been

born.
Alas ! Alas ! that so thou art forlorn,

Since I must lose thee so once more
As I have lost thee (thus my dream)

before, —
Since I must lose thee . . ." " Ah, dream

of life!" said I,
" What if the dream be life, and the
waking dream?"

Her eyes did wistful seem,
A moment wistful, then with patient sigh,



36 SONGS OF MYSELF.

" If thou dream so," she said, " thou art

indeed my dream.
Strange that a dream like thee can dream
again,

And dreaming yearn for being !
And, vision-seen, can yearn for see-
ing !
My child, thou standest always in God's

ken.
In ken of me an hour, never of men;
And thou wilt now from mine depart.
And wilt return
Seldom to mind of me, never to heart:

Nor shall I wonder or mourn,
For it is but the difference of thee
Who art now, art not in eternity;
Nor wonder ever thus of him whose praise
Thou didst rear so in story of thy days :
He may be vain as thy vain days that
burn.
Small hour by hour, in other than life's
fire,
Though with my life coeval they expire :
Life thou dost run, and he.
Only in dream of me, —
Who is the dreamer?" she faltered. I,
poor ghost,



A DREAM OF BEING 37

Left her there pondering as the vespers

ceased;
And sisters hurrying forth met me almost
Where I passed slowly out, from the

dream released.



VP 317)



TWO SONGS FROM THE IRISH

I.

(Is truagk gan mise i Sasana)

'Tis a pity Vm not in England,

Or with one from Erin thither bound,

Out in the midst of the ocean.

Where the thousands of ships are
drowned.

From wave to wave of the ocean

To be guided on with the wind and
the rain —


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