poem – beside the sea

ONE time he dreamed beside a sea
That laid a mane of mimic stars
In fondling quiet on the knee
Of one tall, pearlèd cliff; the bars
Of golden beaches upward swept;
Pine-scented shadows seaward crept.

The full moon swung her ripened sphere
As from a vine; and clouds, as small
As vine leaves in the opening year,
Kissed the large circle of her ball.
The stars gleamed thro’ them as one sees
Thor’ vine leaves drift the golden bees.

He dreamed beside this purple sea;
Low sang its trancéd voice, and he-
He knew not if the wordless strain
Made prophecy of joy or pain;
He only knew far stretched that sea,
He knew its name-Eternity.

A shallop with a rainbow sail
On the bright pulses of the tide
Throbbed airily; a fluting gale
Kissed the rich gilding of its side;
By chain of rose and myrtle fast
A light sail touched the slender mast.

‘A flower-bright rainbow thing,’ he said
To one beside him, ‘far too frail
To brave dark storms that lurk ahead,
To dare sharp talons of the gale.
Beloved, thou wouldst not forth with me
In such a bark on such a sea?’

‘First tell me of its name.’ She bent
Her eyes divine and innocent
On his. He raised his hand above
Its prow and answering swore, ”Tis Love!’
‘Now tell,’ she asked, ‘how is it build-
Of gold, or worthless timber gilt?’

‘Of gold,’ he said. ‘Whence named?’ asked she,
The roses of her lips apart;
She paused-a lily by the sea.
Came his swift answer, ‘From my heart!’
She laid her light palm in his hand:
‘Let loose the shallop from the strand!’

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poem – the dark stag

1 A startled stag, the blue-grey Night,
2 Leaps down beyond black pines.
3 Behind–a length of yellow light–
4 The hunter’s arrow shines:
5 His moccasins are stained with red,
6 He bends upon his knee,
7 From covering peaks his shafts are sped,
8 The blue mists plume his mighty head,–
9 Well may the swift Night flee!

10 The pale, pale Moon, a snow-white doe,
11 Bounds by his dappled flank:
12 They beat the stars down as they go,
13 Like wood-bells growing rank.
14 The winds lift dewlaps from the ground,
15 Leap from the quaking reeds;
16 Their hoarse bays shake the forests round,
17 With keen cries on the track they bound,–
18 Swift, swift the dark stag speeds!

19 Away! his white doe, far behind,
20 Lies wounded on the plain;
21 Yells at his flank the nimblest wind,
22 His large tears fall in rain;
23 Like lily-pads, small clouds grow white
24 About his darkling way;
25 From his bald nest upon the height
26 The red-eyed eagle sees his flight;
27 He falters, turns, the antlered Night,–
28 The dark stag stands at bay!

29 His feet are in the waves of space;
30 His antlers broad and dun
31 He lowers; he turns his velvet face
32 To front the hunter, Sun;
33 He stamps the lilied clouds, and high
34 His branches fill the west.
35 The lean stork sails across the sky,
36 The shy loon shrieks to see him die,
37 The winds leap at his breast.

38 Roar the rent lakes as thro’ the wave
39 Their silver warriors plunge,
40 As vaults from core of crystal cave
41 The strong, fierce muskallunge;
42 Red torches of the sumach glare,
43 Fall’s council-fires are lit;
44 The bittern, squaw-like, scolds the air;
45 The wild duck splashes loudly where
46 The rustling rice-spears knit.

47 Shaft after shaft the red Sun speeds:
48 Rent the stag’s dappled side,
49 His breast, fanged by the shrill winds, bleeds,
50 He staggers on the tide;
51 He feels the hungry waves of space
52 Rush at him high and blue;
53 Their white spray smites his dusky face,
54 Swifter the Sun’s fierce arrows race
55 And pierce his stout heart thro’.

56 His antlers fall; once more he spurns
57 The hoarse hounds of the day;
58 His blood upon the crisp blue burns,
59 Reddens the mounting spray;
60 His branches smite the wave–with cries
61 The loud winds pause and flag–
62 He sinks in space–red glow the skies,
63 The brown earth crimsons as he dies,
64 The strong and dusky stag.

poem – his mother

In the first dawn she lifted from her bed
The holy silver of her noble head,
And listened, listened, listened for his tread.
‘Too soon, too soon !’ she murmured, ‘Yet I’ll keep
My vigil longer­ thou, O tender Sleep,
Art but the joy of those who wake and weep!

‘Joy’s self hath keen, wide eyes. O flesh of mine,
And mine own blood and bone, the very wine
Of my aged heart, I see thy dear eyes shine!

‘I hear thy tread; thy light, loved footsteps run
Along the way, eager for that ‘Well done !’
We’ll weep and kiss to thee, my soldier son!

‘Blest mother I­ he lives! Yet had he died
Blest were I still, ­ I sent him on the tide
Of my full heart to save his nation’s pride!’

‘O God, if that I tremble so to-day,
Bowed with such blessings that I cannot pray
By speech­ a mother prays, dear Lord, alway

‘In some far fibre of her trembling mind!
I’ll up­ I thought I heard a bugle bind
Its silver with the silver of the wind. ‘

poem – the rose

The Rose was given to man for this:
He, sudden seeing it in later years,
Should swift remember Love’s first lingering kiss
And Grief’s last lingering tears;
Or, being blind, should feel its yearning soul
Knit all its piercing perfume round his own,
Till he should see on memory’s ample scroll
All roses he had known;

Or, being hard, perchance his finger-tips
Careless might touch the satin of its cup,
And he should feel a dead babe’s budding lips
To his lips lifted up;

Or, being deaf and smitten with its star,
Should, on a sudden, almost hear a lark
Rush singing up­the nightingale afar
Sing through the dew-bright dark;

Or, sorrow-lost in paths that round and round
Circle old graves, its keen and vital breath
Should call to him within the yew’s bleak bound
Of Life, and not of Death.

poem – a perfect strain

O BID the minstrel tune his harp,
And bid the minstrel sing;
And let it be a perfect strain
That round the hall shall ring:
A strain to throb in lady’s heart,
To brim the warrior’s soul,
As dew fills up the summer rose
And wine the lordly bowl!

O let the minstrel’s voice ring clear,
His touch sweep gay and light;
Nor let his glittering tresses know
One streak of wintry white.
And let the light of ruddy June
Shine in his joyous eyes,
If he would wake the only strain
That never fully dies!

O what the strain that woos the knight
To turn from steed and lance,
The page to turn from hound and hawk,
The maid from lute and dance;
The potent strain, that nigh would draw
The hermit from his cave,
The dryad from the leafy oak,
The mermaid from the wave;
That almost might still charm the hawk
To drop the trembling dove?
O ruddy minstrel, tune thy harp,
And sing of Youthful Love!

poem – a hungry day

I MIND him well, he was a quare ould chap,
Come like meself from swate ould Erin’s sod;
He hired me wanst to help his harvest in-
The crops was fine that summer, praised be God!

He found us, Rosie, Mickie, an’ meself,
Just landed in the emigration shed;
Meself was tyin’ on their bits of clothes;
Their mother-rest her tender sowl!-was dead.

It’s not meself can say of what she died:
But ’twas the year the praties felt the rain,
An’ rotted in the soil; an’ just to dhraw
The breath of life was one long hungry pain.

If we wor haythens in a furrin land,
Not in a country grand in Christian pride,
Faith, then a man might have the face to say
‘Twas of stharvation me poor Sheila died.

But whin the parish docthor come at last,
Whin death was like a sun-burst in her eyes-
They looked straight into Heaven-an’ her ears
Wor deaf to the poor children’s hungry cries,

He touched the bones stretched on the mouldy sthraw:
‘She’s gone!’ he says, and drew a solemn frown;
‘I fear, my man, she’s dead.’ ‘Of what?’ says I.
He coughed, and says, ‘She’s let her system down!’

‘An’ that’s God’s truth!’ says I, an’ felt about
To touch her dawney hand, for all looked dark;
An’ in me hunger-bleached, shmall-beatin’ heart,
I felt the kindlin’ of a burnin’spark.

‘O by me sowl, that is the holy truth!
There’s Rosie’s cheek has kept a dimple still,
An’ Mickie’s eyes are bright-the craythur there
Died that the weeny ones might eat their fill.’

An’ whin they spread the daisies thick an’ white
Above her head that wanst lay on me breast,
I had no tears, but took the childher’s hands,
An’ says, ‘We’ll lave the mother to her rest.’

An’ och! the sod was green that summer’s day,
An’ rainbows crossed the low hills, blue an’ fair;
But black an’ foul the blighted furrows stretched,
An’ sent their cruel poison through the air.

An’ all was quiet-on the sunny sides
Of hedge an’ ditch the stharvin’ craythurs lay,
An’ thim as lacked the rint from empty walls
Of little cabins wapin’ turned away.

God’s curse lay heavy on the poor ould sod,
An’ whin upon her increase His right hand
Fell with’ringly, there samed no bit of blue
For Hope to shine through on the sthricken land.

No facthory chimblys shmoked agin the sky.
No mines yawned on the hills so full an’ rich;
A man whose praties failed had nought to do
But fold his hands an’ die down in a ditch.

A flame rose up widin me feeble heart,
Whin, passin’ through me cabin’s hingeless dure,
I saw the mark of Sheila’s coffin in
The grey dust on the empty earthen flure.

I lifted Rosie’s face betwixt me hands;
Says I, ‘Me girleen, you an’ Mick an’ me
Must lave the green ould sod an’ look for food
In thim strange countries far beyant the sea.’

An’ so it chanced, whin landed on the sthreet,
Ould Dolan, rowlin’ a quare ould shay
Came there to hire a man to save his wheat,
An’ hired meself and Mickie by the day.

‘An’ bring the girleen, Pat,’ he says, an’ looked
At Rosie, lanin’ up agin me knee;
‘The wife will be right plaised to see the child,
The weeney shamrock from beyant the sea.

‘We’ve got a tidy place, the saints be praised!
As nice a farm as ever brogan trod.
A hundered acres-us as never owned
Land big enough to make a lark a sod.’

‘Bedad,’ says I, ‘I heerd them over there
Tell how the goold was lyin’ in the sthreet,
An’ guineas in the very mud that sthuck
To the ould brogans on a poor man’s feet.’

‘Begorra, Pat,’ says Dolan, ‘may ould Nick
Fly off wid thim rapscallions, schaming rogues,
An’ sind thim thrampin’ purgatory’s flure
Wid red hot guineas in their polished brogues!’

‘Och, thin,’ says I, ‘meself agrees to that!’
Ould Dolan smiled wid eyes so bright an’ grey;
Says he, ‘Kape up yer heart; I never kew
Since I come out a single hungry day.

‘But thin I left the crowded city sthreets-
Th’are men galore to toil in thim an’ die;
Meself wint wid me axe to cut a home
In the green woods beneath the clear, swate sky.

‘I did that same; an’ God be praised this day!
Plenty sits smilin’ by me own dear dure;
An’ in them years I never wanst have seen
A famished child creep tremblin’ on me flure.’

I listened to ould Dolan’s honest words:
That’s twenty years ago this very spring,
An’ Mick is married, an’ me Rosie wears
A swateheart’s little shinin’ goulden ring.

‘Twould make yer heart lape just to take a look
At the green fields upon me own big farm;
An’ God be praised! all men may have the same
That owns an axe an’ has a strong right arm!

poem – a harvest song

THE noon was as a crystal bowl
The red wine mantled through;
Around it like a Viking’s beard
The red-gold hazes blew,
As tho’ he quaffed the ruddy draught
While swift his galley flew.

This mighty Viking was the Night;
He sailed about the earth,
And called the merry harvest-time
To sing him songs of mirth;
And all on earth or in the sea
To melody gave birth.

The valleys of the earth were full
To rocky lip and brim
With golden grain that shone and sang
When woods were still and dim,
A little song from sheaf to sheaf-
Sweet Plenty’s cradle-hymn.

O gallant were the high tree-tops,
And gay the strain they sang!
And cheerfully the moon-lit hills
Their echo-music rang!
And what so proud and what so loud
As was the ocean’s clang!

But O the little humming song
That sang among the sheaves!
‘Twas grander than the airy march
That rattled thro’ the leaves,
And prouder, louder, than the deep,
Bold clanging of the waves:

‘The lives of men, the lives of men
With every sheaf are bound!
We are the blessing which annuls
The curse upon the ground!
And he who reaps the Golden Grain
The Golden Love hath found.’