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Poems by Denis Florence MacCarthy

Part 6 out of 6

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'Tis these, with constant goodness, that allure
All hearts to love and imitate his worth.
Beside him weaker natures feel secure,
Even as the flower beside the oak peeps forth,
Safe, though the rain descends, and blows the biting North!

Such is my friend, and such I fain would be,
Mild, thoughtful, modest, faithful, loving, gay,
Correct, not cold, nor uncontroll'd though free,
But proof to all the lures that round us play,
Even as the sun, that on his azure way
Moveth with steady pace and lofty mien,
Though blushing clouds, like syrens, woo his stay,
Higher and higher through the pure serene,
Till comes the calm of eve and wraps him from the scene.


Sweet sister spirits, ye whose starlight tresses
Stream on the night-winds as ye float along,
Missioned with hope to man--and with caresses

To slumbering babes--refreshment to the strong--
And grace the sensuous soul that it's arrayed in:
As the light burden of melodious song

Weighs down a poet's words;--as an o'erladen
Lily doth bend beneath its own pure snow;
Or with its joy, the free heart of a maiden:--

Thus, I behold your outstretched pinions grow
Heavy with all the priceless gifts and graces
God through thy ministration doth bestow.

Do ye not plant the rose on youthful faces?
And rob the heavens of stars for Beauty's eyes?
Do ye not fold within love's pure embraces

All that Omnipotence doth yet devise
For human bliss, or rapture superhuman--
Heaven upon earth, and earth still in the skies?

Do ye not sow the fruitful heart of woman
With tenderest charities and faith sincere,
To feed man's sterile soul and to illumine

His duller eyes, that else might settle here,
With the bright promise of a purer region--
A starlight beacon to a starry sphere?

Are they not all thy children, that bright legion--
Of aspirations, and all hopeful sighs
That in the solemn train of grave Religion

Strew heavenly flowers before man's longing eyes,
And make him feel, as o'er life's sea he wendeth,
The far-off odorous airs of Paradise?--

Like to the breeze some flowery island sendeth
Unto the seaman, ere its bowers are seen,
Which tells him soon his weary wandering endeth--

Soon shall he rest, in bosky shades of green,
By daisied meadows prankt with dewy flowers,
With ever-running rivulets between.

These are thy tasks, my sisters--these the powers
God in his goodness gives into thy hands:--
'Tis from thy fingers fall the diamond showers

Of budding Spring, and o'er the expectant lands
June's odorous purple and rich Autumn's gold:
And even when needful Winter wide expands

His fallow wings, and winds blow sharp and cold
From the harsh east, 'tis thine, o'er all the plain,
The leafless woodlands and the unsheltered wold,

Gently to drop the flakes of feathery rain--
Heaven's warmest down--around the slumbering seeds,
And o'er the roots the frost-blanched counterpane.

What though man's careless eye but little heeds
Even the effects, much less the remoter cause,
Still, in the doing of beneficent deeds--

By God and his Vicegerent Nature's laws--
Ever a compensating joy is found.
Think ye the rain-drop heedeth if it draws

Rankness as well as Beauty from the ground?
Or that the sullen wind will deign to wake
Only Aeolian melodies of sound--

And not the stormy screams that make men quake
Thus do ye act, my sisters; thus ye do
Your cheerful duty for the doing's sake--

Not unrewarded surely--not when you
See the successful issue of your charms,
Bringing the absent back again to view--

Giving the loved one to the lover's arms--
Smoothing the grassy couch in weary age--
Hushing in death's great calm a world's alarms.

I, I alone upon the earth's vast stage
Am doomed to act an unrequited part--
I, the unseen preceptress of the sage--

I, whose ideal form doth win the heart
Of all whom God's vocation hath assigned
To wear the sacred vesture of high Art--

To pass along the electric sparks of mind
From age to age, from race to race, until
The expanding truth encircles all mankind.

What without me were all the poet's skill?--
Dead, sensuous form without the quickening soul.
What without me the instinctive aim of will?--

A useless magnet pointing to no pole.
What the fine ear and the creative hand?
Most potent spirits free from man's control.

I, THE IDEAL, by the poet stand
When all his soul o'erflows with holy fire,
When currents of the beautiful and grand

Run glittering down along each burning wire
Until the heart of the great world doth feel
The electric shock of his God-kindled lyre:--

Then rolls the thunderous music peal on peal,
Or in the breathless after-pause, a strain
Simpler and sweeter through the hush doth steal--

Like to the pattering drops of summer rain
Or rustling grass, when fragrance fills the air
And all the groves are vocal once again:

Whatever form, whatever shape I bear,
The Spirit of high Impulse, and the Soul
Of all conceptions beautiful and rare,

Am I; who now swift spurning all control,
On rapid wings--the Ariel of the Muse--
Dart from the dazzling centre to the pole;

Now in the magic mimicry of hues
Such as surround God's golden throne, descend
In Titian's skies the boundaries to confuse

Betwixt earth's heaven and heaven's own heaven to blend
In Raphael's forms the human and divine,
Where spirit dawns, and matter seems to end.

Again on wings of melody, so fine
They mock the sight, but fall upon the ear
Like tuneful rose-leaves at the day's decline--

And with the music of a happier sphere
Entrance some master of melodious sound,
Till startled men the hymns of angels hear.

Happy for me when, in the vacant round
Of barren ages, one great steadfast soul
Faithful to me and to his art is found.

But, ah! my sisters, with my grief condole;
Join in my sorrows and respond my sighs;
And let your sobs the funeral dirges toll;

Weep those who falter in the great emprise--
Who, turning off upon some poor pretence,
Some worthless guerdon or some paltry prize,

Down from the airy zenith through the immense
Sink to the low expedients of an hour,
And barter soul for all the slough of sense,--

Just when the mind had reached its regal power,
And fancy's wing its perfect plume unfurl'd,--
Just when the bud of promise in the flower

Of all completeness opened on the world--
When the pure fire that heaven itself outflung
Back to its native empyrean curled,

Like vocal incense from a censer swung:--
Ah, me! to be subdued when all seemed won--
That I should fly when I would fain have clung.

Yet so it is,--our radiant course is run;--
Here we must part, the deathless lay unsung,
And, more than all, the deathless deed undone.


Ah! summer time, sweet summer scene,
When all the golden days,
Linked hand-in-hand, like moonlit fays,
Danced o'er the deepening green.

When, from the top of Pelier[111] down
We saw the sun descend,
With smiles that blessings seemed to send
To our near native town.

And when we saw him rise again
High o'er the hills at morn--
God's glorious prophet daily born
To preach good will to men--

Good-will and peace to all between
The gates of night and day--
Join with me, love, and with me say--
Sweet summer time and scene.

Sweet summer time, true age of gold,
When hand-in-hand we went
Slow by the quickening shrubs, intent
To see the buds unfold:

To trace new wild flowers in the grass,
New blossoms on the bough,
And see the water-lilies now
Rise o'er the liquid glass.

When from the fond and folding gale
The scented briar I pulled,
Or for thy kindred bosom culled
The lily of the vale;--

Thou without whom were dark the green,
The golden turned to gray,
Join with me, love, and with me say--
Sweet summer time and scene.

Sweet summer time, delight's brief reign,
Thou hast one memory still,
Dearer than ever tree or hill
Yet stretched along life's plain.

Stranger than all the wond'rous whole,
Flowers, fields, and sunset skies--
To see within our infant's eyes
The awakening of the soul.

To see their dear bright depths first stirred
By the far breath of thought,
To feel our trembling hearts o'erfraught
With rapture when we heard

Her first clear laugh, which might have been
A cherub's laugh at play--
Ah! love, thou canst but join and say--
Sweet summer time and scene.

Sweet summer time, sweet summer days,
One day I must recall;
One day the brightest of them all,
Must mark with special praise.

'Twas when at length in genial showers
The spring attained its close;
And June with many a myriad rose
Incarnadined the bowers:

Led by the bright and sun-warm air,
We left our indoor nooks;
Thou with my paper and my books,
And I thy garden chair;

Crossed the broad, level garden-walks,
With countless roses lined;
And where the apple still inclined
Its blossoms o'er the box,

Near to the lilacs round the pond,
In its stone ring hard by
We took our seats, where save the sky,
And the few forest trees beyond

The garden wall, we nothing saw,
But flowers and blossoms, and we heard
Nought but the whirring of some bird,
Or the rooks' distant, clamorous caw.

And in the shade we saw the face
Of our dear infant sleeping near,
And thou wert by to smile and hear,
And speak with innate truth and grace.

There through the pleasant noontide hours
My task of echoed song I sung;
Turning the golden southern tongue
Into the iron ore of ours!

'Twas the great Spanish master's pride,
The story of the hero proved;
'Twas how the Moorish princess loved,
And how the firm Fernando died.[112]

O happiest season ever seen,
O day, indeed the happiest day;
Join with me, love, and with me say--
Sweet summer time and scene.

One picture more before I close
Fond Memory's fast dissolving views;
One picture more before I lose
The radiant outlines as they rose.

'Tis evening, and we leave the porch,
And for the hundredth time admire
The rhododendron's cones of fire
Rise round the tree, like torch o'er torch.

And for the hundredth time point out
Each favourite blossom and perfume--
If the white lilac still doth bloom,
Or the pink hawthorn fadeth out:

And by the laurell'd wall, and o'er
The fields of young green corn we've gone;
And by the outer gate, and on
To our dear friend's oft-trodden door.

And there in cheerful talk we stay,
Till deepening twilight warns us home;
Then once again we backward roam
Calmly and slow the well-known way--

And linger for the expected view--
Day's dying gleam upon the hill;
Or listen for the whip-poor-will,[113]
Or the too seldom shy cuckoo.

At home the historic page we glean,
And muse, and hope, and praise, and pray--
Join with me, love, as then, and say--
Sweet summer time and scene!

111. Mount Pelier, in the county of Dublin, overlooking Rathfarnham,
and more remotely Dundrum. To a brief residence near the latter village
the "Recollections" rendered in this poem are to be referred.

112. Calderon's "El Principe Constante," translated in the earlier
volumes of the author's Calderon. London, 1853.

113. I do not know the bird to which I have given this Indian name.
It, however, imitated its note quite distinctly.


The moon of my soul is dark, Dolores,
Dead and dark in my breast it lies,
For I miss the heaven of thy smile, Dolores,
And the light of thy brown bright eyes.

The rose of my heart is gone, Dolores,
Bud or blossom in vain I seek;
For I miss the breath of thy lip, Dolores,
And the blush of thy pearl-pale cheek.

The pulse of my heart is still, Dolores,
Still and chill is its glowing tide;
For I miss the beating of thine, Dolores,
In the vacant space by my side.

But the moon shall revisit my soul, Dolores,
And the rose shall refresh my heart,
When I meet thee again in heaven, Dolores,
Never again to part.


"Whither art thou gone, fair Una?
Una fair, the moon is gleaming;
Fear no mortal eye, fair Una,
For the very flowers are dreaming.
And the twinkling stars are closing
Up their weary watching glances,
Warders on heaven's walls reposing,
While the glittering foe advances.

"Una dear, my heart is throbbing,
Full of throbbings without number;
Come! the tired-out streams are sobbing
Like to children ere they slumber;
And the longing trees inclining,
Seek the earth's too distant bosom;
Sad fate! that keeps from intertwining
The earthly and the aerial blossom.

"Una dear, I've roamed the mountain,
Round the furze and o'er the heather;
Una, dear, I've sought the fountain
Where we rested oft together;
Ah! the mountain now looks dreary,
Dead and dark where no life liveth;
Ah! the fountain, to the weary,
Now, no more refreshment giveth.

"Una, darling, dearest daughter
Beauty ever gave to Fancy,
Spirit of the silver water,
Nymph of Nature's necromancy!
Fair enchantress, fond magician,
Is thine every spell-word spoken?
Hast thou closed thy fairy mission?
Is thy potent wand then broken?

"Una dearest, deign to hear me,
Fly no more my prayer resisting!"
Then a trembling voice came near me,
Like a maiden to the trysting,
Like a maiden's feet approaching
Where the lover doth attend her;
Half-forgiving, half-reproaching,
Came that voice so shy and tender.

"Must I blame thee, must I chide thee,
Change to scorn the love I bore thee?
And the fondest heart beside thee,
And the truest eyes before thee.
And the kindest hands to press thee,
And the instinctive sense to guide thee,
And the purest lips to bless thee,
What, O dreamer! is denied thee?

"Hast thou not the full fruition,
Hast thou not the full enjoyance
Of thy young heart's fond ambition,
Free from every feared annoyance
Thou hast sighed for truth and beauty,
Hast thou failed, then, in thy wooing?
Dreamed of some ideal duty,
Is there nought that waits thy doing?--

"Is the world less bright or beauteous,
That dear eyes behold it with thee?
Is the work of life less duteous,
That thou art helped to do it, prithee?
Is the near rapture non-existent,
Because thou dreamest an ideal?
And canst thou for a glimmering distant
Forget the blessings of the real?

"Down on thy knees, O doubting dreamer!
Down! and repent thy heart's misprision."
Scarce had I knelt in tears and tremor,
When the scales fell from off my vision.
There stood my human guardian angel,
Given me by God's benign foreseeing,
While from her lips came life's evangel,
"Live! that each day complete thy being!"


On receiving an early crocus and some violets in a letter from Ireland.

Within the letter's rustling fold
I find once more a glad surprise--
A little tiny cup of gold--
Two little lovely violet eyes;
A cup of gold with emeralds set,
Once filled with wine from happier spheres;
Two little eyes so lately wet
With spring's delicious dewy tears.

Oh! little eyes that wept and laughed,
Now bright with smiles, with tears now dim,
Oh! little cup that once was quaffed
By fay-queens fluttering round thy rim.
I press each silken fringe's fold,
Sweet little eyes once more ye shine;
I kiss thy lip, oh, cup of gold,
And find thee full of Memory's wine.

Within their violet depths I gaze,
And see as in the camera's gloom,
The island with its belt of bays,
Its chieftained heights all capped with broom,
Which as the living lens it fills,
Now seems a giant charmed to sleep--
Now a broad shield embossed with hills
Upon the bosom of the deep.

When will the slumbering giant wake?
When will the shield defend and guard?
Ah, me! prophetic gleams forsake
The once rapt eyes of seer or bard.
Enough, if shunning Samson's fate,
It doth not all its vigour yield;
Enough, if plenteous peace, though late,
May rest beneath the sheltering shield.

I see the long and lone defiles
Of Keimaneigh's bold rocks uphurled,
I see the golden fruited isles
That gem the queen-lakes of the world;
I see--a gladder sight to me--
By soft Shanganah's silver strand,
The breaking of a sapphire sea
Upon the golden-fretted sand.

Swiftly the tunnel's rock-hewn pass,
Swiftly the fiery train runs through;
Oh! what a glittering sheet of glass!
Oh! what enchantment meets my view!
With eyes insatiate I pursue,
Till Bray's bright headland bounds the scene.
'Tis Baiae, by a softer blue!
Gaeta, by a gladder green!

By tasseled groves, o'er meadows fair,
I'm carried in my blissful dream,
To where--a monarch in the air--
The pointed mountain reigns supreme;
There in a spot remote and wild,
I see once more the rustic seat,
Where Carrigoona, like a child,
Sits at the mightier mountain's feet.

There by the gentler mountain's slope,
That happiest year of many a year,
That first swift year of love and hope,
With her then dear and ever dear,
I sat upon the rustic seat,
The seat an aged bay-tree crowns,
And saw outspreading from our feet
The golden glory of the Downs.

The furze-crowned heights, the glorious glen,
The white-walled chapel glistening near,
The house of God, the homes of men,
The fragrant hay, the ripening ear;
There where there seemed nor sin nor crime,
There in God's sweet and wholesome air--
Strange book to read at such a time--
We read of Vanity's false Fair.

We read the painful pages through,
Perceived the skill, admired the art,
Felt them if true, not wholly true,
A truer truth was in our heart.
Save fear and love of One, hath proved
The sage how vain is all below;
And one was there who feared and loved,
And one who loved that she was so.

The vision spreads, the memories grow,
Fair phantoms crowd the more I gaze,
Oh! cup of gold, with wine o'erflow,
I'll drink to those departed days:
And when I drain the golden cup
To them, to those I ne'er can see,
With wine of hope I'll fill it up,
And drink to days that yet may be.

I've drunk the future and the past,
Now for a draught of warmer wine--
One draught, the sweetest and the last,
Lady, I'll drink to thee and thine.
These flowers that to my breast I fold,
Into my very heart have grown;
To thee I'll drain the cup of gold,
And think the violet eyes thine own.

Boulogne, March, 1865.


In deep dejection, but with affection,
I often think of those pleasant times,
In the days of Fraser, ere I touched a razor,
How I read and revell'd in thy racy rhymes;
When in wine and wassail, we to thee were vassal,
Of Watergrass-hill, O renowned P.P.!
May the bells of Shandon
Toll blithe and bland on
The pleasant waters of thy memory!

Full many a ditty, both wise and witty,
In this social city have I heard since then
(With the glass before me, how the dream comes o'er me,
Of those Attic suppers, and those vanished men).
But no song hath woken, whether sung or spoken,
Or hath left a token of such joy in me
As "The Bells of Shandon
That sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee."

The songs melodious, which--a new Harmodius--
"Young Ireland" wreathed round its rebel sword,
With their deep vibrations and aspirations,
Fling a glorious madness o'er the festive board!
But to me seems sweeter, with a tone completer,
The melodious metre that we owe to thee--
Of the bells of Shandon
That sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.

There's a grave that rises o'er thy sward, Devizes,
Where Moore lies sleeping from his land afar,
And a white stone flashes over Goldsmith's ashes
In quiet cloisters by Temple Bar;
So where'er thou sleepest, with a love that's deepest,
Shall thy land remember thy sweet song and thee,
While the Bells of Shandon
Shall sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.


[The remains of the Rev. Francis Mahony were laid in the family
burial-place in St. Anne Shandon Churchyard, the "Bells," which he has
rendered famous, tolling the knell of the poet, who sang of their sweet

Those Shandon bells, those Shandon bells!
Whose deep, sad tone now sobs, now swells--
Who comes to seek this hallowed ground,
And sleep within their sacred sound?

'Tis one who heard these chimes when young,
And who in age their praises sung,
Within whose breast their music made
A dream of home where'er he strayed.

And, oh! if bells have power to-day
To drive all evil things away,
Let doubt be dumb, and envy cease--
And round his grave reign holy peace.

True love doth love in turn beget,
And now these bells repay the debt;
Whene'er they sound, their music tells
Of him who sang sweet Shandon bells!

May 30, 1866.


To give the blossom and the fruit
The soft warm air that wraps them round,
Oh! think how long the toilsome root
Must live and labour 'neath the ground.

To send the river on its way,
With ever deepening strength and force,
Oh! think how long 'twas let to play,
A happy streamlet, near its source.


I'll heed no more the poet's lay--
His false-fond song shall charm no more--
My heart henceforth shall but adore
The real, not the misnamed May.

Too long I've knelt, and vainly hung
My offerings round an empty name;
O May! thou canst not be the same
As once thou wert when Earth was young.

Thou canst not be the same to-day--
The poet's dream--the lover's joy:--
The floral heaven of girl and boy
Were heaven no more, if thou wert May.

If thou wert May, then May is cold,
And, oh! how changed from what she has been--
Then barren boughs are bright with green,
And leaden skies are glad with gold.

And the dark clouds that veiled thy moon
Were silvery-threaded tissues bright,
Looping the locks of amber light
That float but on the airs of June.

O June! thou art the real May;
Thy name is soft and sweet as hers
But rich blood thy bosom stirs,
Her marble cheek cannot display.

She cometh like a haughty girl,
So conscious of her beauty's power,
She now will wear nor gem nor flower
Upon her pallid breast of pearl.

And her green silken summer dress,
So simply flower'd in white and gold,
She scorns to let our eyes behold,
But hides through very wilfulness:

Hides it 'neath ermined robes, which she
Hath borrowed from some wintry quean,
Instead of dancing on the green--
A village maiden fair and free.

Oh! we have spoiled her with our praise,
And made her froward, false, and vain;
So that her cold blue eyes disdain
To smile as in the earlier days.

Let her beware--the world full soon
Like me shall tearless turn away,
And woo, instead of thine, O May!
The brown, bright, joyous eyes of June.

O June! forgive the long delay,
My heart's deceptive dream is o'er--
Where I believe I will adore,
Nor worship June, yet kneel to May.


Summer is a glorious season
Warm, and bright, and pleasant;
But the Past is not a reason
To despise the Present.
So while health can climb the mountain,
And the log lights up the hall,
There are sunny days in Winter, after all!

Spring, no doubt, hath faded from us,
Maiden-like in charms;
Summer, too, with all her promise,
Perished in our arms.
But the memory of the vanished,
Whom our hearts recall,
Maketh sunny days in Winter, after all!

True, there's scarce a flower that bloometh,
All the best are dead;
But the wall-flower still perfumeth
Yonder garden-bed.
And the arbutus pearl-blossom'd
Hangs its coral ball--
There are sunny days in Winter, after all!

Summer trees are pretty,--very,
And love them well:
But this holly's glistening berry,
None of those excel.
While the fir can warm the landscape,
And the ivy clothes the wall,
There are sunny days in Winter, after all!

Sunny hours in every season
Wait the innocent--
Those who taste with love and reason
What their God hath sent.
Those who neither soar too highly,
Nor too lowly fall,
Feel the sunny days of Winter, after all!

Then, although our darling treasures
Vanish from the heart;
Then, although our once-loved pleasures
One by one depart;
Though the tomb looms in the distance,
And the mourning pall,
There is sunshine, and no Winter, after all!


O Kathleen, my darling, I've dreamt such a dream,
'Tis as hopeful and bright as the summer's first beam:
I dreamt that the World, like yourself, darling dear,
Had presented a son to the happy New Year!
Like yourself, too, the poor mother suffered awhile,
But like yours was the joy, at her baby's first smile,
When the tender nurse, Nature, quick hastened to fling
Her sun-mantle round, as she fondled THE SPRING.

O Kathleen, 'twas strange how the elements all,
With their friendly regards, condescended to call:
The rough rains of winter like summer-dews fell,
And the North-wind said, zephyr-like: "Is the World well?"
And the streams ran quick-sparkling to tell o'er the earth
God's goodness to man in this mystical birth;
For a Son of this World, and an heir to the King
Who rules over man, is this beautiful Spring!

O Kathleen, methought, when the bright babe was born,
More lovely than morning appeared the bright morn;
The birds sang more sweetly, the grass greener grew,
And with buds and with blossoms the old trees looked new;
And methought when the Priest of the Universe came--
The Sun--in his vestments of glory and flame,
He was seen, the warm raindrops of April to fling
On the brow of the babe, and baptise him The Spring!

O Kathleen, dear Kathleen! what treasures are piled
In the mines of the past for this wonderful Child!
The lore of the sages, the lays of the bards,
Like a primer, the eye of this infant regards;
All the dearly-bought knowledge that cost life and limb,
Without price, without peril, is offered to him;
And the blithe bee of Progress concealeth its sting,
As it offers its sweets to the beautiful Spring!

O Kathleen, they tell us of wonderful things,
Of speed that surpasseth the fairy's fleet wings;
How the lands of the world in communion are brought,
And the slow march of speech is as rapid as thought.
Think, think what an heir-loom the great world will be
With this wonderful wire 'neath the earth and the sea;
When the snows and the sunshine together shall bring
All the wealth of the world to the feet of The Spring.

Oh! Kathleen, but think of the birth-gifts of love,
That THE MASTER who lives in the GREAT HOUSE above
Prepares for the poor child that's born on His land--
Dear God! they're the sweet flowers that fall from Thy hand--
The crocus, the primrose, the violet given
Awhile, to make earth the reflection of heaven;
The brightness and lightness that round the world wing
Are thine, and are ours too, through thee, happy Spring!

O Kathleen, dear Kathleen! that dream is gone by,
And I wake once again, but, thank God! thou art by;
And the land that we love looks as bright in the beam,
Just as if my sweet dream was not all out a dream,
The spring-tide of Nature its blessing imparts,
Let the spring-tide of Hope send its pulse through our hearts;
Let us feel 'tis a mother, to whose breast we cling,
And a brother we hail, when we welcome the Spring.


The Sun called a beautiful Beam, that was playing
At the door of his golden-wall'd palace on high;
And he bade him be off, without any delaying,
To a fast-fleeting Cloud on the verge of the sky:
"You will give him this letter," said roguish Apollo
(While a sly little twinkle contracted his eye),
With my royal regards; and be sure that you follow
Whatsoever his Highness may send in reply."

The Beam heard the order, but being no novice,
Took it coolly, of course--nor in this was he wrong--
But was forced (being a clerk in Apollo's post-office)
To declare (what a bounce!) that he wouldn't be long;
So he went home and dress'd--gave his beard an elision--
Put his scarlet coat on, nicely edged with gold lace;
And thus being equipped, with a postman's precision,
He prepared to set out on his nebulous race.

Off he posted at last, but just outside the portals
He lit on earth's high-soaring bird in the dark;
So he tarried a little, like many frail mortals,
Who, when sent on an errand, first go on a lark;
But he broke from the bird--reach'd the cloud in a minute--
Gave the letter and all, as Apollo ordained;
But the Sun's correspondent, on looking within it,
Found, "Send the fool farther," was all it contained.

The Cloud, who was up to all mystification,
Quite a humorist, saw the intent of the Sun;
And was ever too airy--though lofty his station--
To spoil the least taste of the prospect of fun;
So he hemm'd, and he haw'd--took a roll of pure vapour,
Which the light from the beam made as bright as could be,
(Like a sheet of the whitest cream golden-edg'd paper),
And wrote a few words, superscribed, "To the Sea."

"My dear Beam," or "dear Ray" (t'was thus coolly he hailed him),
"Pray take down to Neptune this letter from me,
For the person you seek--though I lately regaled him--
Now tries a new airing, and dwells by the sea."
So our Mercury hastened away through the ether,
The bright face of Thetis to gladden and greet;
And he plunged in the water a few feet beneath her,
Just to get a sly peep at her beautiful feet.

To Neptune the letter was brought for inspection--
But the god, though a deep one, was still rather green;
So he took a few moments of steady reflection,
Ere he wholly made out what the missive could mean:
But the date (it was "April the first") came to save it
From all fear of mistake; so he took pen in hand,
And, transcribing the cruel entreaty, he gave it
To our travel-tired friend, and said, "Bring it to Land."

To Land went the Sunbeam, which scarcely received it,
When it sent it, post-haste, back again to the sea;
The Sea's hypocritical calmness deceived it,
And sent it once more to the Land on the lea;--
From the Land to the Lake--from the Lakes to the Fountains--
From the Fountains and Streams to the Hills' azure crest,
'Till, at last, a tall Peak on the top of the mountains,
Sent it back to the Cloud in the now golden west.

He saw the whole trick by the way he was greeted
By the Sun's laughing face, which all purple appears;
Then, amused, yet annoyed at the way he was treated,
He first laughed at the joke, and then burst into tears.
It is thus that this day of mistakes and surprises,
When fools write on foolscap, and wear it the while,
This gay saturnalia for ever arises
'Mid the showers and the sunshine, the tear and the smile.


[Written in 1844, after a visit to Darrynane Abbey.]

Where foams the white torrent, and rushes the rill,
Down the murmuring slopes of the echoing hill--
Where the eagle looks out from his cloud-crested crags,
And the caverns resound with the panting of stags--
Where the brow of the mountain is purple with heath,
And the mighty Atlantic rolls proudly beneath,
With the foam of its waves like the snowy 'fenane'--[114]
Oh! that is the region of wild Darrynane!

Oh! fair are the islets of tranquil Glengariff,
And wild are the sacred recesses of Scariff,
And beauty, and wildness, and grandeur commingle
By Bantry's broad bosom, and wave-wasted Dingle;
But wild as the wildest, and fair as the fairest,
And lit by a lustre that thou alone wearest--
And dear to the eye and the free heart of man
Are the mountains and valleys of wild Darrynane!

And who is the Chief of this lordly domain?
Does a slave hold the land where a monarch might reign?
Oh! no, by St. Finbar,[115] nor cowards, nor slaves,
Could live in the sound of these free, dashing waves!
A chieftain, the greatest the world has e'er known--
Laurel his coronet--true hearts his throne--
Knowledge his sceptre--a Nation his clan--
O'Connell, the chieftain of proud Darrynane!

A thousand bright streams on the mountains awake,
Whose waters unite in O'Donoghue's lake--
Streams of Glanflesk and the dark Gishadine
Filling the heart of that valley divine!
Then rushing in one mighty artery down
To the limitless ocean by murmuring Lowne--[116]
Thus Nature unfolds in her mystical plan
A type of the Chieftain of wild Darrynane!

In him every pulse of our bosoms unite--
Our hatred of wrong and our worship of right--
The hopes that we cherish, the ills we deplore,
All centre within his heart's innermost core,
Which, gathered in one mighty current, are flung
To the ends of the earth from his thunder-toned tongue!
Till the Indian looks up, and the valiant Afghan
Draws his sword at the echo from far Darrynane!

But here he is only the friend and the father,
Who from children's sweet lips truest wisdom can gather,
And seeks from the large heart of Nature to borrow
Rest for the present and strength for the morrow!
Oh! who that e'er saw him with children about him
And heard his soft tones of affection could doubt him?
My life on the truth of the heart of that man
That throbs like the Chieftain's of wild Darrynane!

Oh! wild Darrynane, on thy ocean-washed shore,
Shall the glad song of mariners echo once more?
Shall the merchants, and minstrels, and maidens of Spain,
Once again in their swift ships come over the main?
Shall the soft lute be heard, and the gay youths of France
Lead our blue-eyed young maidens again to the dance?
Graceful and shy as thy fawns, Killenane,[117]
Are the mind-moulded maidens of far Darrynane!

Dear land of the south, as my mind wandered o'er
All the joys I have felt by thy magical shore,
From those lakes of enchantment by oak-clad Glena
To the mountainous passes of bold Iveragh!
Like birds which are lured to a haven of rest,
By those rocks far away on the ocean's bright breast--[118]
Thus my thoughts loved to linger, as memory ran
O'er the mountains and valleys of wild Darrynane!

114. "In the mountains of Slievelougher, and other parts of this
county, the country people, towards the end of June, cut the coarse
mountain grass, called by them 'fenane'; towards August this grass grows
white."--Smith's Kerry.

115. The abbey on the grounds of Darrynane was founded in the seventh
century by the monks of St. Finbar.

116. The river Lowne is the only outlet by which all the streams that
form the Lakes of Killarney discharge themselves into the sea--'Lan,' or
'Lowne,' in the old Irish signifying full.

117. "Killenane lies to the east of Cahir. It has many mountains
towards the sea. These mountains are frequented by herds of fallow
deer, that range about it in perfect security."--Smith's Kerry.

118. The Skellig Rocks. In describing one of them, Keating says "That
there is a certain attractive virtue in the soil which draws down all
the birds which attempt to fly over it, and obliges them to alight upon
the rock."


(On receiving a Shamrock in a Letter from Ireland.)

O postman! speed thy tardy gait--
Go quicker round from door to door;
For thee I watch, for thee I wait,
Like many a weary wanderer more.
Thou brightest news of bale and bliss--
Some life begun, some life well o'er.
He stops--he rings!--O heaven! what's this?--
A shamrock from the Irish shore!

Dear emblem of my native land,
By fresh fond words kept fresh and green;
The pressure of an unfelt hand--
The kisses of a lip unseen;
A throb from my dead mother's heart--
My father's smile revived once more--
Oh, youth! oh, love! oh, hope thou art,
Sweet shamrock from the Irish shore!

Enchanter, with thy wand of power,
Thou mak'st the past be present still:
The emerald lawn--the lime-leaved bower--
The circling shore--the sunlit hill;
The grass, in winter's wintriest hours,
By dewy daisies dimpled o'er,
Half hiding, 'neath their trembling flowers,
The shamrock of the Irish shore!

And thus, where'er my footsteps strayed,
By queenly Florence, kingly Rome--
By Padua's long and lone arcade--
By Ischia's fires and Adria's foam--
By Spezzia's fatal waves that kissed
My poet sailing calmly o'er;
By all, by each, I mourned and missed
The shamrock of the Irish shore!

I saw the palm-tree stand aloof,
Irresolute 'twixt the sand and sea:
I saw upon the trellised roof
Outspread the wine that was to be;
A giant-flowered and glorious tree
I saw the tall magnolia soar;
But there, even there, I longed for thee,
Poor shamrock of the Irish shore!

Now on the ramparts of Boulogne,
As lately by the lonely Rance,
At evening as I watch the sun,
I look! I dream! Can this be France
Not Albion's cliffs, how near they be,
He seems to love to linger o'er;
But gilds, by a remoter sea,
The shamrock on the Irish shore!

I'm with him in that wholesome clime--
That fruitful soil, that verdurous sod--
Where hearts unstained by vulgar crime
Have still a simple faith in God:
Hearts that in pleasure and in pain,
The more they're trod rebound the more,
Like thee, when wet with heaven's own rain,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

Memorial of my native land,
True emblem of my land and race--
Thy small and tender leaves expand
But only in thy native place.
Thou needest for thyself and seed
Soft dews around, kind sunshine o'er;
Transplanted thou'rt the merest weed,
O shamrock of the Irish shore.

Here on the tawny fields of France,
Or in the rank, red English clay,
Thou showest a stronger form perchance;
A bolder front thou mayest display,
More able to resist the scythe
That cut so keen, so sharp before;
But then thou art no more the blithe
Bright shamrock of the Irish shore!

Ah, me! to think--thy scorns, thy slights,
Thy trampled tears, thy nameless grave
On Fredericksburg's ensanguined heights,
Or by Potomac's purpled wave!
Ah, me! to think that power malign
Thus turns thy sweet green sap to gore,
And what calm rapture might be thine,
Sweet shamrock of the Irish shore!

Struggling, and yet for strife unmeet,
True type of trustful love thou art;
Thou liest the whole year at my feet,
To live but one day at my heart.
One day of festal pride to lie
Upon the loved one's heart--what more?
Upon the loved one's heart to die,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

And shall I not return thy love?
And shalt thou not, as thou shouldst, be
Placed on thy son's proud heart above
The red rose or the fleur-de-lis?
Yes, from these heights the waters beat,
I vow to press thy cheek once more,
And lie for ever at thy feet,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

Boulogne-sur-Mer, March 17, 1865.


[Suggested by seeing for the first time fire-flies in the myrtle hedges
at Spezzia.]

By many a soft Ligurian bay
The myrtles glisten green and bright,
Gleam with their flowers of snow by day,
And glow with fire-flies through the night,
And yet, despite the cold and heat,
Are ever fresh, and pure, and sweet.

There is an island in the West,
Where living myrtles bloom and blow,
Hearts where the fire-fly Love my rest
Within a paradise of snow--
Which yet, despite the cold and heat,
Are ever fresh, and pure, and sweet.

Deep in that gentle breast of thine--
Like fire and snow within the pearl--
Let purity and love combine,
O warm, pure-hearted Irish girl!
And in the cold and in the heat
Be ever fresh, and pure, and sweet.

Thy bosom bears as pure a snow
As e'er Italia's bowers can boast,
And though no fire-fly lends its glow--
As on the soft Ligurian coast--
'Tis warmed by an internal heat
Which ever keeps it pure and sweet.

The fire-flies fade on misty eves--
The inner fires alone endure;
Like rain that wets the leaves,
Thy very sorrows keep thee pure--
They temper a too ardent heat--
And keep thee ever pure and sweet.

La Spezzia, 1862.


"Oh! come, my mother, come away, across the sea-green water;
Oh! come with me, and come with him, the husband of thy daughter;
Oh! come with us, and come with them, the sister and the brother,
Who, prattling climb thy ag'ed knees, and call thy daughter--mother.

"Oh come, and leave this land of death--this isle of desolation--
This speck upon the sunbright face of God's sublime creation,
Since now o'er all our fatal stars the most malign hath risen,
When Labour seeks the poorhouse, and Innocence the prison.

"'Tis true, o'er all the sun-brown fields the husky wheat is bending;
'Tis true, God's blessed hand at last a better time is sending;
'Tis true the island's aged face looks happier and younger,
But in the best of days we've known the sickness and the hunger.

"When health breathed out in every breeze, too oft we've known the
Too oft, my mother, have we felt the hand of the bereaver:
Too well remember many a time the mournful task that brought him,
When freshness fanned the summer air, and cooled the glow of autumn.

"But then the trial, though severe, still testified our patience,
We bowed with mingled hope and fear to God's wise dispensations;
We felt the gloomiest time was both a promise and a warning,
Just as the darkest hour of night is herald of the morning.

"But now through all the black expanse no hopeful morning breaketh--
No bird of promise in our hearts the gladsome song awaketh;
No far-off gleams of good light up the hills of expectation--
Nought but the gloom that might precede the world's annihilation.

"So, mother, turn thy ag'ed feet, and let our children lead 'em
Down to the ship that wafts us soon to plenty and to freedom;
Forgetting nought of all the past, yet all the past forgiving;
Come, let us leave the dying land, and fly unto the living.

"They tell us, they who read and think of Ireland's ancient story,
How once its emerald flag flung out a sunburst's fleeting glory
Oh! if that sun will pierce no more the dark clouds that efface it,
Fly where the rising stars of heaven commingle to replace it.

"So come, my mother, come away, across the sea-green water;
Oh! come with us, and come with him, the husband of thy daughter;
Oh! come with us, and come with them, the sister and the brother,
Who, prattling, climb thy ag'ed knees, and call thy daughter--mother."

"Ah! go, my children, go away--obey this inspiration;
Go, with the mantling hopes of health and youthful expectation;
Go, clear the forests, climb the hills, and plough the expectant
Go, in the sacred name of God, and the Blessed Virgin Mary's.

"But though I feel how sharp the pang from thee and thine to sever,
To look upon these darling ones the last time and for ever;
Yet in this sad and dark old land, by desolation haunted,
My heart has struck its roots too deep ever to be transplanted.

"A thousand fibres still have life, although the trunk is dying,
They twine around the yet green grave where thy father's bones are
Ah! from that sad and sweet embrace no soil on earth can loose 'em,
Though golden harvests gleam on its breast, and golden sands its bosom.

"Others are twined around the stone, where ivy-blossoms smother
The crumbling lines that trace your names, my father and my mother;
God's blessing be upon their souls--God grant, my old heart prayeth,
Their names be written in the Book whose writing ne'er decayeth.

"Alas! my prayers would never warm within those great cold buildings,
Those grand cathedral churches with their marbles and their gildings;
Far fitter than the proudest dome that would hang in splendour o'er me,
Is the simple chapel's white-washed wall, where my people knelt before

"No doubt it is a glorious land to which you now are going,
Like that which God bestowed of old, with milk and honey flowing;
But where are the blessed saints of God, whose lives of his law remind
Like Patrick, Brigid, and Columkille, in the land I'd leave behind me?

"So leave me here, my children, with my old ways and old notions;
Leave me here in peace, with my memories and devotions;
Leave me in sight of your father's grave, and as the heavens allied us,
Let not, since we were joined in life, even the grave divide us.

"There's not a week but I can hear how you prosper better and better,
For the mighty fire-ships o'er the sea will bring the expected letter;
And if I need aught for my simple wants, my food or my winter firing,
You will gladly spare from your growing store a little for my requiring.

"Remember with a pitying love the hapless land that bore you;
At every festal season be its gentle form before you;
When the Christmas candle is lighted, and the holly and ivy glisten,
Let your eye look back for a vanished face--for a voice that is silent,

"So go, my children, go away--obey this inspiration;
Go, with the mantling hopes of health and youthful expectation;
Go, clear the forests, climb the hills, and plough the expectant
Go, in the sacred name of God, and the Blessed Virgin Mary's."


The Rain, the Rain, the beautiful Rain--
Welcome, welcome, it cometh again;
It cometh with green to gladden the plain,
And to wake the sweets in the winding lane.

The Rain, the Rain, the beautiful Rain,
It fills the flowers to their tiniest vein,
Till they rise from the sod whereon they had lain--
Ah, me! ah, me! like an army slain.

The Rain, the Rain, the beautiful Rain,
Each drop is a link of a diamond chain
That unites the earth with its sin and its stain
To the radiant realm where God doth reign.

The Rain, the Rain, the beautiful Rain,
Each drop is a tear not shed in vain,
Which the angels weep for the golden grain
All trodden to death on the gory plain;

For Rain, the Rain, the beautiful Rain,
Will waken the golden seeds again!
But, ah! what power will revive the slain,
Stark lying death over fair Lorraine?

'Twere better far, O beautiful Rain,
That you swelled the torrent and flooded the main;
And that Winter, with all his spectral train,
Alone lay camped on the icy plain.

For then, O Rain, O beautiful Rain,
The snow-flag of peace were unfurl'd again;
And the truce would be rung in each loud refrain
Of the blast replacing the bugle's strain.

Then welcome, welcome, beautiful Rain,
Thou bringest flowers to the parched-up plain;
Oh! for many a frenzied heart and brain,
Bring peace and love to the world again!

August 28, 1870.

119. Written during the Franco-German war.

M. H. Gill & Sons, Printers, Dublin.

Transcriber's Notes.

Source. The collection of poems here presented follows as closely as
possible the 1882 first edition. I assembled this e-text over several
years, either typing or scanning one poem at a time as the spirit moved
me. Some poems were transcribed either from the 1884 second edition, or
from D. F. MacCarthy's earlier publications, depending on whatever
happened to be handy at the time. I have proofread this entire e-text
against the 1882 edition. In many instances there are minor variations,
mostly in punctuation, among the different source material. In some
cases, if the 1882 edition clearly has an error, I have used the other
works as a guide. Where there are variations that are not obviously
errors, I have followed the 1882 edition. It is certainly possible,
where I transcribed from a non-1882 source, that a few variations may
have slipt my notice, and have not been changed.

General. In the printed source the first word of each section and poem

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