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Title: Poems
Author: Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poems" ***

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  POEMS


  EVERY IRISHMAN'S LIBRARY

  _Cr. 8vo., cloth, 3s. 6d. net each. With Frontispieces._

  LIST OF VOLUMES

  1. Thomas Davis. SELECTIONS FROM HIS PROSE
  AND POETRY. Edited by T.W. ROLLESTON,
  M.A. (Dublin).

  2. Wild Sports of the West. By W.H. MAXWELL.
  Edited by the EARL OF DUNRAVEN.

  3. Legends of Saints and Sinners from the
  Irish. Edited by DOUGLAS HYDE, LL.D.
  (Dublin).

  4. The Book of Irish Humour. Edited by
  CHARLES L. GRAVES, M.A. (Oxon.).

  5. Irish Orators and Oratory. With an Introduction
  by Professor T.M. KETTLE, M.P.

  6. The Book of Irish Poetry. Edited by ALFRED
  PERCEVAL GRAVES, M.A. (Dublin).

  7. Standish O'Grady. SELECTED ESSAYS AND
  PASSAGES. Edited by ERNEST A. BOYD.

  8. Recollections of Jonah Barrington. Edited
  by GEORGE A. BIRMINGHAM.

  9. Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson. Edited by
  ALFRED PERCEVAL GRAVES, M.A.

  10. Carleton's Stories of Irish Life. With an
  Introduction by DARRELL FIGGIS.

  11. The Collegians. By GERALD GRIFFIN. With
  Introduction by PADRAIC COLUM.

  12. Maria Edgeworth: SELECTIONS FROM HER
  WORKS. With an Introduction by MALCOLM
  COTTER SETON, M.A.

  T. FISHER UNWIN LTD., LONDON


  [Illustration: Signature: WB Yeats]



  POEMS

  BY

  W.B. YEATS

  LONDON
  T. FISHER UNWIN LTD.
  ADELPHI TERRACE


"The Wanderings of Oisin" was published with the lyrics now collected
under the title "Crossways" in 1888, "The Countess Cathleen" with the
lyrics now collected under the title "The Rose" in 1892, and "The Land
of Heart's Desire" by itself in 1894. They were revised and reprinted in
one volume in 1895, again revised and reprinted in 1899, and again
reprinted in 1901, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1913, 1919, and 1920.

(_All rights reserved_)



PREFACE


During the last year I have spent much time altering "The Countess
Cathleen" and "The Land of Heart's Desire" that they might be a part of
the repertory of the Abbey Theatre. I had written them before I had any
practical experience, and I knew from the performance of the one in
Dublin in 1899 and of the other in London in 1894 that they were full of
defects. But in their new shape--and each play has been twice played
during the winter--they have given me some pleasure, and are, I think,
easier to play effectively than my later plays, depending less upon the
players and more upon the producer, both having been imagined more for
variety of stage-picture than variety of mood in the player. It was,
indeed, the first performance of "The Countess Cathleen," when our
stage-pictures were made out of poor conventional scenery and hired
costumes, that set me writing plays where all would depend upon the
player. The first two scenes are wholly new, and though I have left the
old end in the body of this book I have given in the notes an end less
difficult to producer and audience, and there are slight alterations
elsewhere in the poem. "The Land of Heart's Desire," besides some
mending in the details, has been thrown back in time because the
metrical speech would have sounded unreal if spoken in a country cottage
now that we have so many dialect comedies. The shades of Mrs. Fallan and
Mrs. Dillane and of Dan Bourke and the Tramp would have seemed too
boisterous or too vivid for shades made cold and distant with the
artifice of verse.

I have not again retouched the lyric poems of my youth, fearing some
stupidity in my middle years, but have changed two or three pages that I
always knew to be wrong in "The Wanderings of Usheen."

  W.B. YEATS.

  _June, 1912._



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION


I have added some passages to "The Land of Heart's Desire," and a new
scene of some little length, besides passages here and there, to "The
Countess Cathleen." The goddess has never come to me with her hands so
full that I have not found many waste places after I had planted all
that she had brought me. The present version of "The Countess Cathleen"
is not quite the version adopted by the Irish Literary Theatre a couple
of years ago, for our stage and scenery were capable of little; and it
may differ more from any stage version I make in future, for it seems
that my people of the waters and my unhappy dead, in the third act,
cannot keep their supernatural essence, but must put on too much of our
mortality, in any ordinary theatre. I am told that I must abandon a
meaning or two and make my merchants carry away the treasure
themselves. The act was written long ago, when I had seen so few plays
that I took pleasure in stage effects. Indeed, I am not yet certain that
a wealthy theatre could not shape it to an impressive pageantry, or that
a theatre without any wealth could not lift it out of pageantry into the
mind, with a dim curtain, and some dimly lighted players, and the
beautiful voices that should be as important in poetical as in musical
drama. The Elizabethan stage was so little imprisoned in material
circumstance that the Elizabethan imagination was not strained by god or
spirit, nor even by Echo herself--no, not even when she answered, as in
"The Duchess of Malfi," in clear, loud words which were not the words
that had been spoken to her. We have made a prison-house of paint and
canvas, where we have as little freedom as under our own roofs, for
there is no freedom in a house that has been made with hands. All art
moves in the cave of the Chimæra, or in the garden of the Hesperides, or
in the more silent house of the gods, and neither cave, nor garden, nor
house can show itself clearly but to the mind's eye.

Besides rewriting a lyric or two, I have much enlarged the note on "The
Countess Cathleen," as there has been some discussion in Ireland about
the origin of the story, but the other notes are as they have always
been. They are short enough, but I do not think that anybody who knows
modern poetry will find obscurities in this book. In any case, I must
leave my myths and symbols to explain themselves as the years go by and
one poems lights up another, and the stories that friends, and one
friend in particular, have gathered for me, or that I have gathered
myself in many cottages, find their way into the light. I would, if I
could, add to that majestic heraldry of the poets, that great and
complicated inheritance of images which written literature has
substituted for the greater and more complex inheritance of spoken
tradition, some new heraldic images, gathered from the lips of the
common people. Christianity and the old nature faith have lain down side
by side in the cottages, and I would proclaim that peace as loudly as I
can among the kingdoms of poetry, where there is no peace that is not
joyous, no battle that does not give life instead of death; I may even
try to persuade others, in more sober prose, that there can be no
language more worthy of poetry and of the meditation of the soul than
that which has been made, or can be made, out of a subtlety of desire,
an emotion of sacrifice, a delight in order, that are perhaps
Christian, and myths and images that mirror the energies of woods and
streams, and of their wild creatures. Has any part of that majestic
heraldry of the poets had a very different fountain? Is it not the
ritual of the marriage of heaven and earth?

These details may seem to many unnecessary; but after all one writes
poetry for a few careful readers and for a few friends, who will not
consider such details unnecessary. When Cimabue had the cry it was, it
seems, worth thinking of those that run; but to-day, when they can write
as well as read, one can sit with one's companions under the hedgerow
contentedly. If one writes well and has the patience, somebody will come
from among the runners and read what one has written quickly, and go
away quickly, and write out as much as he can remember in the language
of the highway.

  W.B. YEATS.

  _January, 1901._



CONTENTS


                                                                   PAGE

THE COUNTESS CATHLEEN                                                 1

THE ROSE--

  To the Rose upon the Rood of Time                                 109

  Fergus and the Druid                                              111

  The Death of Cuchulain                                            114

  The Rose of the World                                             119

  The Rose of Peace                                                 120

  The Rose of Battle                                                121

  A Faery Song                                                      123

  The Lake Isle of Innisfree                                        124

  A Cradle Song                                                     125

  The Pity of Love                                                  126

  The Sorrow of Love                                                127

  When You are Old                                                  128

  The White Birds                                                   129

  A Dream of Death                                                  131

  A Dream of a Blessed Spirit                                       132

  Who goes with Fergus                                              133

  The Man who Dreamed of Faeryland                                  134

  The Dedication to a Book of Stories selected from
    the Irish Novelists                                             137

  The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner                              139

  The Ballad of Father Gilligan                                     140

  The Two Trees                                                     143

  To Ireland in the Coming Times                                    145

THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE                                          149

CROSSWAYS--

  The Song of the Happy Shepherd                                    197

  The Sad Shepherd                                                  200

  The Cloak, The Boat, and the Shoes                                202

  Anashuya and Vijaya                                               203

  The Indian upon God                                               209

  The Indian to his Love                                            211

  The Falling of the Leaves                                         213

  Ephemera                                                          214

  The Madness of King Goll                                          216

  The Stolen Child                                                  220

  To an Isle in the Water                                           223

  Down by the Salley Gardens                                        224

  The Meditation of the Old Fisherman                               225

  The Ballad of Father O'Hart                                       226

  The Ballad of Moll Magee                                          229

  The Ballad of the Foxhunter                                       232

THE WANDERINGS OF USHEEN                                            235

GLOSSARY AND NOTES                                                  299


_TO SOME I HAVE TALKED WITH BY THE FIRE_


  _While I wrought out these fitful Danaan rhymes,
  My heart would brim with dreams about the times
  When we bent down above the fading coals;
  And talked of the dark folk, who live in souls
  Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;
  And of the wayward twilight companies,
  Who sigh with mingled sorrow and content,
  Because their blossoming dreams have never bent
  Under the fruit of evil and of good:
  And of the embattled flaming multitude
  Who rise, wing above wing, flame above flame,
  And, like a storm, cry the Ineffable Name,
  And with the clashing of their sword blades make
  A rapturous music, till the morning break,
  And the white hush end all, but the loud beat
  Of their long wings, the flash of their white feet._



THE COUNTESS CATHLEEN


  "The sorrowful are dumb for thee"

_Lament of Morion Shehone for Miss Mary Bourke_


TO

MAUD GONNE


  SHEMUS RUA                                         A Peasant

  MARY                                                His Wife

  TEIG                                                 His Son

  ALEEL                                                 A Poet

  THE COUNTESS CATHLEEN

  OONA                                       Her Foster Mother

  Two Demons disguised as Merchants

  Peasants, Servants, Angelical Beings


_The Scene is laid in Ireland and in old times_



SCENE I


     SCENE.--_A room with lighted fire, and a door into the open air,
     through which one sees, perhaps, the trees of a wood, and these
     trees should be painted in flat colour upon a gold or diapered sky.
     The walls are of one colour. The scent should have the effect of
     missal painting._ MARY, a_ woman of forty years or so, is grinding
     a quern_.


  MARY

  What can have made the grey hen flutter so?

(TEIG, _a boy of fourteen, is coming in with turf, which he lays beside
the hearth_.)

  TEIG

  They say that now the land is famine struck
  The graves are walking.

  MARY

                         There is something that the hen hears.

  TEIG

  And that is not the worst; at Tubber-vanach
  A woman met a man with ears spread out,
  And they moved up and down like a bat's wing.

  MARY

  What can have kept your father all this while?

  TEIG

  Two nights ago, at Carrick-orus churchyard,
  A herdsman met a man who had no mouth,
  Nor eyes, nor ears; his face a wall of flesh;
  He saw him plainly by the light of the moon.

  MARY

  Look out, and tell me if your father's coming.

(TEIG _goes to door_.)

  TEIG

  Mother!

  MARY

           What is it?

  TEIG

                        In the bush beyond,
  There are two birds--if you can call them birds--
  I could not see them rightly for the leaves.
  But they've the shape and colour of horned owls
  And I'm half certain they've a human face.

  MARY

  Mother of God, defend us!

  TEIG

                             They're looking at me.
  What is the good of praying? father says.
  God and the Mother of God have dropped asleep.
  What do they care, he says, though the whole land
  Squeal like a rabbit under a weasel's tooth?

  MARY

  You'll bring misfortune with your blasphemies
  Upon your father, or yourself, or me.
  I would to God he were home--ah, there he is.

(SHEMUS _comes in_.)

  What was it kept you in the wood? You know
  I cannot get all sorts of accidents
  Out of my mind till you are home again.

  SHEMUS

  I'm in no mood to listen to your clatter.
  Although I tramped the woods for half a day,
  I've taken nothing, for the very rats,
  Badgers, and hedgehogs seem to have died of drought,
  And there was scarce a wind in the parched leaves.

  TEIG

  Then you have brought no dinner.

  SHEMUS

                                    After that
  I sat among the beggars at the cross-roads,
  And held a hollow hand among the others.

  MARY

  What, did you beg?

  SHEMUS

                      I had no chance to beg,
  For when the beggars saw me they cried out
  They would not have another share their alms,
  And hunted me away with sticks and stones.

  TEIG

  You said that you would bring us food or money.

  SHEMUS

  What's in the house?

  TEIG

                        A bit of mouldy bread.

  MARY

  There's flour enough to make another loaf.

  TEIG

  And when that's gone?

  MARY

                         There is the hen in the coop.

  SHEMUS

  My curse upon the beggars, my curse upon them!

  TEIG

  And the last penny gone.

  SHEMUS

                            When the hen's gone,
  What can we do but live on sorrel and dock,
  And dandelion, till our mouths are green?

  MARY

  God, that to this hour's found bit and sup,
  Will cater for us still.

  SHEMUS

                            His kitchen's bare.
  There were five doors that I looked through this day
  And saw the dead and not a soul to wake them.

  MARY

  Maybe He'd have us die because He knows,
  When the ear is stopped and when the eye is stopped,
  That every wicked sight is hid from the eye,
  And all fool talk from the ear.

  SHEMUS

                                   Who's passing there?
  And mocking us with music?

(_A stringed instrument without._)

  TEIG

                              A young man plays it,
  There's an old woman and a lady with him.

  SHEMUS

  What is the trouble of the poor to her?
  Nothing at all or a harsh radishy sauce
  For the day's meat.

  MARY

                       God's pity on the rich.
  Had we been through as many doors, and seen
  The dishes standing on the polished wood
  In the wax candle light, we'd be as hard,
  And there's the needle's eye at the end of all.

  SHEMUS

  My curse upon the rich.

  TEIG

                           They're coming here.

  SHEMUS

  Then down upon that stool, down quick, I say,
  And call up a whey face and a whining voice,
  And let your head be bowed upon your knees.

  MARY

  Had I but time to put the place to rights.

(CATHLEEN, OONA, _and_ ALEEL _enter_.)

  CATHLEEN

  God save all here. There is a certain house,
  An old grey castle with a kitchen garden,
  A cider orchard and a plot for flowers,
  Somewhere among these woods.

  MARY

                                We know it, lady.
  A place that's set among impassable walls
  As though world's trouble could not find it out.

  CATHLEEN

  It may be that we are that trouble, for we--
  Although we've wandered in the wood this hour--
  Have lost it too, yet I should know my way,
  For I lived all my childhood in that house.

  MARY

  Then you are Countess Cathleen?

  CATHLEEN

                                   And this woman,
  Oona, my nurse, should have remembered it,
  For we were happy for a long time there.

  OONA

  The paths are overgrown with thickets now,
  Or else some change has come upon my sight.

  CATHLEEN

  And this young man, that should have known the woods--
  Because we met him on their border but now,
  Wandering and singing like a wave of the sea--
  Is so wrapped up in dreams of terrors to come
  That he can give no help.

  MARY

                             You have still some way,
  But I can put you on the trodden path
  Your servants take when they are marketing.
  But first sit down and rest yourself awhile,
  For my old fathers served your fathers, lady,
  Longer than books can tell--and it were strange
  If you and yours should not be welcome here.

  CATHLEEN

  And it were stranger still were I ungrateful
  For such kind welcome--but I must be gone,
  For the night's gathering in.

  SHEMUS

                                 It is a long while
  Since I've set eyes on bread or on what buys it.

  CATHLEEN

  So you are starving even in this wood,
  Where I had thought I would find nothing changed.
  But that's a dream, for the old worm o' the world
  Can eat its way into what place it pleases.

(_She gives money._)

  TEIG

  Beautiful lady, give me something too;
  I fell but now, being weak with hunger and thirst
  And lay upon the threshold like a log.

  CATHLEEN

  I gave for all and that was all I had.
  Look, my purse is empty. I have passed
  By starving men and women all this day,
  And they have had the rest; but take the purse,
  The silver clasps on't may be worth a trifle.
  But if you'll come to-morrow to my house
  You shall have twice the sum.

(ALEEL _begins to play_.)

  SHEMUS (_muttering_)

                                 What, music, music!

  CATHLEEN

  Ah, do not blame the finger on the string;
  The doctors bid me fly the unlucky times
  And find distraction for my thoughts, or else
  Pine to my grave.

  SHEMUS

                     I have said nothing, lady.
  Why should the like of us complain?

  OONA

                                       Have done.
  Sorrows that she's but read of in a book
  Weigh on her mind as if they had been her own.

(OONA, MARY, and CATHLEEN _go out_. ALEEL _looks defiantly at_ SHEMUS.)

  ALEEL (_singing_)

  Were I but crazy for love's sake
  I know who'd measure out his length,
  I know the heads that I should break,
  For crazy men have double strength.
  There! all's out now to leave or take,
  And who mocks music mocks at love;
  And when I'm crazy for love's sake
  I'll not go far to choose.

(_Snapping his fingers in_ SHEMUS' _face_.)

                              Enough!
  I know the heads that I shall break.

(_He takes a step towards the door and then turns again._)

  Shut to the door before the night has fallen,
  For who can say what walks, or in what shape
  Some devilish creature flies in the air, but now
  Two grey-horned owls hooted above our heads.

(_He goes out, his singing dies away._ MARY _comes in_. SHEMUS _has been
counting the money._)

  SHEMUS

  So that fool's gone.

  TEIG

                        He's seen the horned owls too.
  There's no good luck in owls, but it may be
  That the ill luck's to fall upon his head.

  MARY

  You never thanked her ladyship.

  SHEMUS

                                   Thank her,
  For seven halfpence and a silver bit?

  TEIG

  But for this empty purse?

  SHEMUS

                               What's that for thanks,
  Or what's the double of it that she promised?
  With bread and flesh and every sort of food
  Up to a price no man has heard the like of
  And rising every day.

  MARY

                          We have all she had;
  She emptied out the purse before our eyes.

  SHEMUS (_to_ MARY, _who has gone to close the door_)

  Leave that door open.

  MARY

                          When those that have read books,
  And seen the seven wonders of the world,
  Fear what's above or what's below the ground,
  It's time that poverty should bolt the door.

  SHEMUS

  I'll have no bolts, for there is not a thing
  That walks above the ground or under it
  I had not rather welcome to this house
  Than any more of mankind, rich or poor.

  TEIG

  So that they brought us money.

  SHEMUS

                                    I heard say
  There's something that appears like a white bird,
  A pigeon or a seagull or the like,
  But if you hit it with a stone or a stick
  It clangs as though it had been made of brass,
  And that if you dig down where it was scratching
  You'll find a crock of gold.

  TEIG

                                 But dream of gold
  For three nights running, and there's always gold.

  SHEMUS

  You might be starved before you've dug it out.

  TEIG

  But maybe if you called, something would come,
  They have been seen of late.

  MARY

                                 Is it call devils?
  Call devils from the wood, call them in here?

  SHEMUS

  So you'd stand up against me, and you'd say
  Who or what I am to welcome here. (_He hits her._)
  That is to show who's master.

  TEIG

                                   Call them in.

  MARY

  God help us all!

  SHEMUS

                     Pray, if you have a mind to.
  It's little that the sleepy ears above
  Care for your words; but I'll call what I please.

  TEIG

  There is many a one, they say, had money from them.

  SHEMUS (_at door_)

  Whatever you are that walk the woods at night,
  So be it that you have not shouldered up
  Out of a grave--for I'll have nothing human--
  And have free hands, a friendly trick of speech,
  I welcome you. Come, sit beside the fire.
  What matter if your head's below your arms
  Or you've a horse's tail to whip your flank,
  Feathers instead of hair, that's but a straw,
  Come, share what bread and meat is in the house,
  And stretch your heels and warm them in the ashes.
  And after that, let's share and share alike
  And curse all men and women. Come in, come in.
  What, is there no one there?  (_Turning from door_)
     And yet they say
  They are as common as the grass, and ride
  Even upon the book in the priest's hand.

     (TEIG _lifts one arm slowly and points toward the door and begins
     moving backwards_. SHEMUS _turns, he also sees something and begins
     moving backward_. MARY _does the same. A man dressed as an Eastern
     merchant comes in carrying a small carpet. He unrolls it and sits
     cross-legged at one end of it. Another man dressed in the same way
     follows, and sits at the other end. This is done slowly and
     deliberately. When they are seated they take money out of
     embroidered purses at their girdles and begin arranging it on the
     carpet_.)

  TEIG

  You speak to them.

  SHEMUS

                    No, you.

  TEIG

                            'Twas you that called them.

  SHEMUS (_coming nearer_)

  I'd make so bold, if you would pardon it,
  To ask if there's a thing you'd have of us.
  Although we are but poor people, if there is,
  Why, if there is----

  FIRST MERCHANT

                        We've travelled a long road,
  For we are merchants that must tramp the world,
  And now we look for supper and a fire
  And a safe corner to count money in.

  SHEMUS

  I thought you were ... but that's no matter now--
  There had been words between my wife and me
  Because I said I would be master here,
  And ask in what I pleased or who I pleased
  And so.... but that is nothing to the point,
  Because it's certain that you are but merchants.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We travel for the Master of all merchants.

  SHEMUS

  Yet if you were that I had thought but now
  I'd welcome you no less. Be what you please
  And you'll have supper at the market rate,
  That means that what was sold for but a penny
  Is now worth fifty.

(MERCHANTS _begin putting money on carpet_.)

  FIRST MERCHANT

                        Our Master bids us pay
  So good a price, that all who deal with us
  Shall eat, drink, and be merry.

  SHEMUS (_to_ MARY)

                                    Bestir yourself,
  Go kill and draw the fowl, while Teig and I
  Lay out the plates and make a better fire.

  MARY

  I will not cook for you.

  SHEMUS

                             Not cook! not cook!
  Do not be angry. She wants to pay me back
  Because I struck her in that argument.
  But she'll get sense again. Since the dearth came
  We rattle one on another as though we were
  Knives thrown into a basket to be cleaned.

  MARY

  I will not cook for you, because I know
  In what unlucky shape you sat but now
  Outside this door.

  TEIG

                        It's this, your honours:
  Because of some wild words my father said
  She thinks you are not of those who cast a shadow.

  SHEMUS

  I said I'd make the devils of the wood
  Welcome, if they'd a mind to eat and drink;
  But it is certain that you are men like us.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  It's strange that she should think we cast no shadow,
  For there is nothing on the ridge of the world
  That's more substantial than the merchants are
  That buy and sell you.

  MARY

                           If you are not demons,
  And seeing what great wealth is spread out there,
  Give food or money to the starving poor.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  If we knew how to find deserving poor
  We'd do our share.

  MARY

                        But seek them patiently.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We know the evils of mere charity.

  MARY

  Those scruples may befit a common time.
  I had thought there was a pushing to and fro,
  At times like this, that overset the scale
  And trampled measure down.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                 But if already
  We'd thought of a more prudent way than that?

  SECOND MERCHANT

  If each one brings a bit of merchandise,
  We'll give him such a price he never dreamt of.

  MARY

  Where shall the starving come at merchandise?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We will ask nothing but what all men have.

  MARY

  Their swine and cattle, fields and implements
  Are sold and gone.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                        They have not sold all yet.
  For there's a vaporous thing--that may be nothing,
  But that's the buyer's risk--a second self,
  They call immortal for a story's sake.

  SHEMUS

  They come to buy our souls?

  TEIG

                                 I'll barter mine.
  Why should we starve for what may be but nothing?

  MARY

  Teig and Shemus----

  SHEMUS

                          What can it be but nothing?
  What has God poured out of His bag but famine?
  Satan gives money.

  TEIG

                         Yet no thunder stirs.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  There is a heap for each.

(SHEMUS _goes to take money_.)

                               But no, not yet,
  For there's a work I have to set you to.

  SHEMUS

  So then you're as deceitful as the rest,
  And all that talk of buying what's but a vapour
  Is fancy bread. I might have known as much,
  Because that's how the trick-o'-the-loop man talks.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  That's for the work, each has its separate price;
  But neither price is paid till the work's done.

  TEIG

  The same for me.

  MARY

                      Oh, God, why are you still?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  You've but to cry aloud at every cross-road,
  At every house door, that we buy men's souls.
  And give so good a price that all may live
  In mirth and comfort till the famine's done,
  Because we are Christian men.

  SHEMUS

                                   Come, let's away.

  TEIG

  I shall keep running till I've earned the price.

  SECOND MERCHANT

(_who has risen and gone towards fire_)

  Stop; you must have proof behind the words.
  So here's your entertainment on the road.

(_He throws a bag of money on the ground._)

  Live as you please; our Master's generous.

(TEIG and SHEMUS _have stopped_. TEIG _takes the money. They go out._)

  MARY

  Destroyers of souls, God will destroy you quickly.
  You shall at last dry like dry leaves and hang
  Nailed like dead vermin to the doors of God.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  Curse to your fill, for saints will have their dreams.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Though we're but vermin that our Master sent
  To overrun the world, he at the end
  Shall pull apart the pale ribs of the moon
  And quench the stars in the ancestral night.

  MARY

  God is all powerful.

  SECOND MERCHANT

                          Pray, you shall need Him.
  You shall eat dock and grass, and dandelion,
  Till that low threshold there becomes a wall,
  And when your hands can scarcely drag your body
  We shall be near you.

(MARY _faints_.)

(_The_ FIRST MERCHANT _takes up the carpet, spreads it before the fire
and stands in front of it warming his hands_.)

  FIRST MERCHANT

                           Our faces go unscratched,
  Wring the neck o' that fowl, scatter the flour
  And look if there is bread upon the shelves.
  We'll turn the fowl upon the spit and roast it,
  And eat the supper we were bidden to,
  Now that the house is quiet, praise our Master,
  And stretch and warm our heels among the ashes.

END OF SCENE I.



SCENE II


     FRONT SCENE.--_A wood with perhaps distant view of turreted house
     at one side, but all in flat colour, without light and shade and
     against a diapered or gold background._

COUNTESS CATHLEEN _comes in leaning upon_ ALEEL'S _arm_. OONA _follows
them_.

  CATHLEEN (_stopping_)

  Surely this leafy corner, where one smells
  The wild bee's honey, has a story too?

  OONA

  There is the house at last.

  ALEEL

                                 A man, they say,
  Loved Maeve the Queen of all the invisible host,
  And died of his love nine centuries ago.
  And now, when the moon's riding at the full,
  She leaves her dancers lonely and lies there
  Upon that level place, and for three days
  Stretches and sighs and wets her long pale cheeks.

  CATHLEEN

  So she loves truly.

  ALEEL

                        No, but wets her cheeks,
  Lady, because she has forgot his name.

  CATHLEEN

  She'd sleep that trouble away--though it must be
  A heavy trouble to forget his name--
  If she had better sense.

  OONA

                               Your own house, lady.

  ALEEL

  She sleeps high up on wintry Knock-na-rea
  In an old cairn of stones; while her poor women
  Must lie and jog in the wave if they would sleep--
  Being water born--yet if she cry their names
  They run up on the land and dance in the moon
  Till they are giddy and would love as men do,
  And be as patient and as pitiful.
  But there is nothing that will stop in their heads
  They've such poor memories, though they weep for it.
  Oh, yes, they weep; that's when the moon is full.

  CATHLEEN

  Is it because they have short memories
  They live so long?

  ALEEL

                       What's memory but the ash
  That chokes our fires that have begun to sink?
  And they've a dizzy, everlasting fire.

  OONA

  There is your own house, lady.

  CATHLEEN

                                     Why, that's true,
  And we'd have passed it without noticing.

  ALEEL

  A curse upon it for a meddlesome house!
  Had it but stayed away I would have known
  What Queen Maeve thinks on when the moon is pinched;
  And whether now--as in the old days--the dancers
  Set their brief love on men.

  OONA

                                  Rest on my arm.
  These are no thoughts for any Christian ear.

  ALEEL

  I am younger, she would be too heavy for you.

(_He begins taking his lute out of the bag_, CATHLEEN, _who has turned
towards_ OONA, _turns back to him_.)

  This hollow box remembers every foot
  That danced upon the level grass of the world,
  And will tell secrets if I whisper to it.

(_Sings._)

  Lift up the white knee;
  Hear what they sing,
  Those young dancers
  That in a ring
  Raved but now
  Of the hearts that brake
  Long, long ago
  For their sake.

  OONA

  New friends are sweet.

  ALEEL

  "But the dance changes.
  Lift up the gown,
  All that sorrow
  Is trodden down."

  OONA

  The empty rattle-pate! Lean on this arm,
  That I can tell you is a christened arm,
  And not like some, if we are to judge by speech.
  But as you please. It is time I was forgot.
  Maybe it is not on this arm you slumbered
  When you were as helpless as a worm.

  ALEEL

  Stay with me till we come to your own house.

  CATHLEEN (_sitting down_)

  When I am rested I will need no help.

  ALEEL

  I thought to have kept her from remembering
  The evil of the times for full ten minutes;
  But now when seven are out you come between.

  OONA

  Talk on; what does it matter what you say,
  For you have not been christened?

  ALEEL

                              Old woman, old woman,
  You robbed her of three minutes peace of mind,
  And though you live unto a hundred years,
  And wash the feet of beggars and give alms,
  And climb Croaghpatrick, you shall not be pardoned.

  OONA

  How does a man who never was baptized
  Know what Heaven pardons?

  ALEEL

                              You are a sinful woman.

  OONA

  I care no more than if a pig had grunted.

(_Enter_ CATHLEEN'S _Steward_.)

  STEWARD

  I am not to blame, for I had locked the gate,
  The forester's to blame. The men climbed in
  At the east corner where the elm-tree is.

  CATHLEEN

  I do not understand you, who has climbed?

  STEWARD

  Then God be thanked, I am the first to tell you.
  I was afraid some other of the servants--
  Though I've been on the watch--had been the first,
  And mixed up truth and lies, your ladyship.

  CATHLEEN (_rising_)

  Has some misfortune happened?

  STEWARD

                                   Yes, indeed.
  The forester that let the branches lie
  Against the wall's to blame for everything,
  For that is how the rogues got into the garden.

  CATHLEEN

  I thought to have escaped misfortune here.
  Has any one been killed?

  STEWARD

                               Oh, no, not killed.
  They have stolen half a cart-load of green cabbage.

  CATHLEEN

  But maybe they were starving.

  STEWARD

                                   That is certain.
  To rob or starve, that was the choice they had.

  CATHLEEN

  A learned theologian has laid down
  That starving men may take what's necessary,
  And yet be sinless.

  OONA

                         Sinless and a thief!
  There should be broken bottles on the wall.

  CATHLEEN

  And if it be a sin, while faith's unbroken
  God cannot help but pardon. There is no soul
  But it's unlike all others in the world,
  Nor one but lifts a strangeness to God's love
  Till that's grown infinite, and therefore none
  Whose loss were less than irremediable
  Although it were the wickedest in the world.

(_Enter_ TEIG _and_ SHEMUS.)

  STEWARD

  What are you running for? Pull off your cap,
  Do you not see who's there?

  SHEMUS

                                 I cannot wait.
  I am running to the world with the best news
  That has been brought it for a thousand years.

  STEWARD

  Then get your breath and speak.

  SHEMUS

                                     If you'd my news
  You'd run as fast and be as out of breath.

  TEIG

  Such news, we shall be carried on men's shoulders.

  SHEMUS

  There's something every man has carried with him
  And thought no more about than if it were
  A mouthful of the wind; and now it's grown
  A marketable thing!

  TEIG

                        And yet it seemed
  As useless as the paring of one's nails.

  SHEMUS

  What sets me laughing when I think of it,
  Is that a rogue who's lain in lousy straw,
  If he but sell it, may set up his coach.

  TEIG (_laughing_)

  There are two gentlemen who buy men's souls.

  CATHLEEN

  O God!

  TEIG

           And maybe there's no soul at all.

  STEWARD

  They're drunk or mad.

  TEIG

  Look at the price they give.

(_Showing money._)

  SHEMUS (_tossing up money_)

  "Go cry it all about the world," they said.
  "Money for souls, good money for a soul."

  CATHLEEN

  Give twice and thrice and twenty times their money,
  And get your souls again. I will pay all.

  SHEMUS

  Not we! not we! For souls--if there are souls--
  But keep the flesh out of its merriment.
  I shall be drunk and merry.

  TEIG

                                  Come, let's away.

(_He goes._)

  CATHLEEN

  But there's a world to come.

  SHEMUS

                                   And if there is,
  I'd rather trust myself into the hands
  That can pay money down than to the hands
  That have but shaken famine from the bag.

(_He goes out_ R.)

(_Lilting_)

  "There's money for a soul, sweet yellow money.
  There's money for men's souls, good money, money."

  CATHLEEN (_to_ ALEEL)

  Go call them here again, bring them by force,
  Beseech them, bribe, do anything you like;

(ALEEL _goes_.)

  And you too follow, add your prayers to his.

(OONA, _who has been praying, goes out_.)

  Steward, you know the secrets of my house.
  How much have I?

  STEWARD

                      A hundred kegs of gold.

  CATHLEEN

  How much have I in castles?

  STEWARD

                                 As much more.

  CATHLEEN

  How much have I in pasture?

  STEWARD

                                As much more.

  CATHLEEN

  How much have I in forests?

  STEWARD

                                As much more.

  CATHLEEN

  Keeping this house alone, sell all I have,
  Go barter where you please, but come again
  With herds of cattle and with ships of meal.

  STEWARD

  God's blessing light upon your ladyship.
  You will have saved the land.

  CATHLEEN

                                  Make no delay.

(_He goes_ L.)

(ALEEL _and_ OONA _return_)

  CATHLEEN

  They have not come; speak quickly.

  ALEEL

                                        One drew his knife
  And said that he would kill the man or woman
  That stopped his way; and when I would have stopped him
  He made this stroke at me; but it is nothing.

  CATHLEEN

  You shall be tended. From this day for ever
  I'll have no joy or sorrow of my own.

  OONA

  Their eyes shone like the eyes of birds of prey.

  CATHLEEN

  Come, follow me, for the earth burns my feet
  Till I have changed my house to such a refuge
  That the old and ailing, and all weak of heart,
  May escape from beak and claw; all, all, shall come
  Till the walls burst and the roof fall on us.
  From this day out I have nothing of my own.

(_She goes._)

  OONA (_taking_ ALEEL _by the arm and as she speaks bandaging his wound_)

  She has found something now to put her hand to,
  And you and I are of no more account
  Than flies upon a window-pane in the winter.

(_They go out._)

END OF SCENE II.



SCENE III


     SCENE.--_Hall in the house of_ COUNTESS CATHLEEN. _At the Left an
     oratory with steps leading up to it. At the Right a tapestried
     wall, more or less repeating the form of the oratory, and a great
     chair with its back against the wall. In the Centre are two or more
     arches through which one can see dimly the trees of the garden._
     CATHLEEN _is kneeling in front of the altar in the oratory; there
     is a hanging lighted lamp over the altar_. ALEEL _enters_.

  ALEEL

  I have come to bid you leave this castle and fly
  Out of these woods.

  CATHLEEN

                         What evil is there here
  That is not everywhere from this to the sea?

  ALEEL

  They who have sent me walk invisible.

  CATHLEEN

  So it is true what I have heard men say,
  That you have seen and heard what others cannot.

  ALEEL

  I was asleep in my bed, and while I slept
  My dream became a fire; and in the fire
  One walked and he had birds about his head.

  CATHLEEN

  I have heard that one of the old gods walked so.

  ALEEL

  It may be that he is angelical;
  And, lady, he bids me call you from these woods.
  And you must bring but your old foster-mother,
  And some few serving men, and live in the hills,
  Among the sounds of music and the light
  Of waters, till the evil days are done.
  For here some terrible death is waiting you,
  Some unimagined evil, some great darkness
  That fable has not dreamt of, nor sun nor moon
  Scattered.

  CATHLEEN

               No, not angelical.

  ALEEL

                                     This house
  You are to leave with some old trusty man,
  And bid him shelter all that starve or wander
  While there is food and house room.

  CATHLEEN

                                         He bids me go
  Where none of mortal creatures but the swan
  Dabbles, and there you would pluck the harp, when the trees
  Had made a heavy shadow about our door,
  And talk among the rustling of the reeds,
  When night hunted the foolish sun away
  With stillness and pale tapers. No--no--no!
  I cannot. Although I weep, I do not weep
  Because that life would be most happy, and here
  I find no way, no end. Nor do I weep
  Because I had longed to look upon your face,
  But that a night of prayer has made me weary.

  ALEEL (_prostrating himself before her_)

  Let Him that made mankind, the angels and devils
  And dearth and plenty, mend what He has made,
  For when we labour in vain and eye still sees
  Heart breaks in vain.

  CATHLEEN

                           How would that quiet end?

  ALEEL

  How but in healing?

  CATHLEEN

                         You have seen my tears
  And I can see your hand shake on the floor.

  ALEEL (_faltering_)

  I thought but of healing. He was angelical.

  CATHLEEN (_turning away from him_)

  No, not angelical, but of the old gods,
  Who wander about the world to waken the heart--
  The passionate, proud heart--that all the angels,
  Leaving nine heavens empty, would rock to sleep.

(_She goes to chapel door;_ ALEEL _holds his clasped hands towards her
for a moment hesitatingly, and then lets them fall beside him_.)

  CATHLEEN

  Do not hold out to me beseeching hands.
  This heart shall never waken on earth. I have sworn,
  By her whose heart the seven sorrows have pierced,
  To pray before this altar until my heart
  Has grown to Heaven like a tree, and there
  Rustled its leaves, till Heaven has saved my people.

  ALEEL (_who has risen_)

  When one so great has spoken of love to one
  So little as I, though to deny him love,
  What can he but hold out beseeching hands,
  Then let them fall beside him, knowing how greatly
  They have overdared?

(_He goes towards the door of the hall._ _The_ COUNTESS CATHLEEN _takes
a few steps towards him_.)

  CATHLEEN

                        If the old tales are true,
  Queens have wed shepherds and kings beggar-maids;
  God's procreant waters flowing about your mind
  Have made you more than kings or queens; and not you
  But I am the empty pitcher.

  ALEEL

                                Being silent,
  I have said all, yet let me stay beside you.

  CATHLEEN

  No, no, not while my heart is shaken. No,
  But you shall hear wind cry and water cry,
  And curlew cry, and have the peace I longed for.

  ALEEL

  Give me your hand to kiss.

  CATHLEEN

                                I kiss your forehead.
  And yet I send you from me. Do not speak;
  There have been women that bid men to rob
  Crowns from the Country-under-Wave or apples
  Upon a dragon-guarded hill, and all
  That they might sift men's hearts and wills,
  And trembled as they bid it, as I tremble
  That lay a hard task on you, that you go,
  And silently, and do not turn your head;
  Goodbye; but do not turn your head and look;
  Above all else, I would not have you look.

(ALEEL _goes_.)

  I never spoke to him of his wounded hand,
  And now he is gone. (_She looks out._)
  I cannot see him, for all is dark outside.
  Would my imagination and my heart
  Were as little shaken as this holy flame!

(_She goes slowly into the chapel. The distant sound of an alarm bell._
_The two_ MERCHANTS _enter hurriedly_.)

  SECOND MERCHANT

  They are ringing the alarm, and in a moment
  They'll be upon us.

  FIRST MERCHANT (_going to a door at the side_)

                         Here is the Treasury,
  You'd my commands to put them all to sleep.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  Some angel or else her prayers protected them.

(_Goes into the Treasury and returns with bags of treasure._ FIRST
MERCHANT _has been listening at the oratory door_.)

  FIRST MERCHANT

  She has fallen asleep.

(SECOND MERCHANT _goes out through one of the arches at the back and
stands listening. The bags are at his feet._)

  SECOND MERCHANT

                            We've all the treasure now,
  So let's away before they've tracked us out.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  I have a plan to win her.

  SECOND MERCHANT

                               You have time enough
  If you would kill her and bear off her soul
  Before they are upon us with their prayers;
  They search the Western Tower.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                   That may not be.
  We cannot face the heavenly host in arms.
  Her soul must come to us of its own will,
  But being of the ninth and mightiest Hell
  Where all are kings, I have a plan to win it.
  Lady, we've news that's crying out for speech.

(CATHLEEN _wakes and comes to door of chapel_.)

  CATHLEEN

  Who calls?

  FIRST MERCHANT

               We have brought news.

  CATHLEEN

                                     What are you?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We are merchants, and we know the book of the world
  Because we have walked upon its leaves; and there
  Have read of late matters that much concern you;
  And noticing the castle door stand open,
  Came in to find an ear.

  CATHLEEN

                              The door stands open,
  That no one who is famished or afraid,
  Despair of help or of a welcome with it.
  But you have news, you say.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                 We saw a man,
  Heavy with sickness in the bog of Allen,
  Whom you had bid buy cattle. Near Fair Head
  We saw your grain ships lying all becalmed
  In the dark night; and not less still than they,
  Burned all their mirrored lanthorns in the sea.

  CATHLEEN

  My thanks to God, to Mary and the angels,
  That I have money in my treasury,
  And can buy grain from those who have stored it up
  To prosper on the hunger of the poor.
  But you've been far and know the signs of things,
  When will this famine end?

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                Day copies day,
  And there's no sign of change, nor can it change,
  With the wheat withered and the cattle dead.

  CATHLEEN

  And heard you of the demons who buy souls?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  There are some men who hold they have wolves' heads,
  And say their limbs--dried by the infinite flame--
  Have all the speed of storms; others, again,
  Say they are gross and little; while a few
  Will have it they seem much as mortals are,
  But tall and brown and travelled--like us, lady--
  Yet all agree a power is in their looks
  That makes men bow, and flings a casting-net
  About their souls, and that all men would go
  And barter those poor vapours, were it not
  You bribe them with the safety of your gold.

  CATHLEEN

  Praise be to God, to Mary, and the angels
  That I am wealthy! Wherefore do they sell?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  As we came in at the great door we saw
  Your porter sleeping in his niche--a soul
  Too little to be worth a hundred pence,
  And yet they buy it for a hundred crowns.
  But for a soul like yours, I heard them say,
  They would give five hundred thousand crowns and more.

  CATHLEEN

  How can a heap of crowns pay for a soul?
  Is the green grave so terrible a thing?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Some sell because the money gleams, and some
  Because they are in terror of the grave,
  And some because their neighbours sold before,
  And some because there is a kind of joy
  In casting hope away, in losing joy,
  In ceasing all resistance, in at last
  Opening one's arms to the eternal flames,
  In casting all sails out upon the wind;
  To this--full of the gaiety of the lost--
  Would all folk hurry if your gold were gone.

  CATHLEEN

  There is a something, Merchant, in your voice
  That makes me fear. When you were telling how
  A man may lose his soul and lose his God
  Your eyes were lighted up, and when you told
  How my poor money serves the people, both--
  Merchants forgive me--seemed to smile.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                            I laugh
  To think that all these people should be swung
  As on a lady's shoe-string,--under them
  The glowing leagues of never-ending flame.

  CATHLEEN

  There is a something in you that I fear;
  A something not of us; were you not born
  In some most distant corner of the world?

(_The_ SECOND MERCHANT, _who has been listening at the door, comes
forward, and as he comes a sound of voices and feet is heard_.)

  SECOND MERCHANT

  Away now--they are in the passage--hurry,
  For they will know us, and freeze up our hearts
  With Ave Marys, and burn all our skin
  With holy water.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                      Farewell; for we must ride
  Many a mile before the morning come;
  Our horses beat the ground impatiently.

(_They go out._ _A number of_ PEASANTS _enter by other door_.)

  FIRST PEASANT

  Forgive us, lady, but we heard a noise.

  SECOND PEASANT

  We sat by the fireside telling vanities.

  FIRST PEASANT

  We heard a noise, but though we have searched the house
  We have found nobody.

  CATHLEEN

                           You are too timid,
  For now you are safe from all the evil times,
  There is no evil that can find you here.

  OONA (_entering hurriedly_)

  Ochone! Ochone! The treasure room is broken in.
  The door stands open, and the gold is gone.

(PEASANTS _raise a lamentable cry_.)

  CATHLEEN

  Be silent. (_The cry ceases._) Have you seen nobody?

  OONA

                                              Ochone!
  That my good mistress should lose all this money.

  CATHLEEN

  Let those among you--not too old to ride--
  Get horses and search all the country round,
  I'll give a farm to him who finds the thieves.

(_A man with keys at his girdle has come in while she speaks. There is a
general murmur of "The porter! the porter!"_)

  PORTER

  Demons were here. I sat beside the door
  In my stone niche, and two owls passed me by,
  Whispering with human voices.

  OLD PEASANT

                                  God forsakes us.

  CATHLEEN

  Old man, old man, He never closed a door
  Unless one opened. I am desolate,
  Because of a strange thought that's in my heart;
  But I have still my faith; therefore be silent;
  For surely He does not forsake the world,
  But stands before it modelling in the clay
  And moulding there His image. Age by age
  The clay wars with His fingers and pleads hard
  For its old, heavy, dull and shapeless ease;
  But sometimes--though His hand is on it still--
  It moves awry and demon hordes are born.

(PEASANTS _cross themselves_.)

  Yet leave me now, for I am desolate,
  I hear a whisper from beyond the thunder.

(_She comes from the oratory door._)

  Yet stay an instant. When we meet again
  I may have grown forgetful. Oona, take
  These two--the larder and the dairy keys.

(_To the_ PORTER.)

  But take you this. It opens the small room
  Of herbs for medicine, of hellebore,
  Of vervain, monkshood, plantain, and self-heal.
  The book of cures is on the upper shelf.

  PORTER

  Why do you do this, lady; did you see
  Your coffin in a dream?

  CATHLEEN

                            Ah, no, not that.
  But I have come to a strange thought. I have heard
  A sound of wailing in unnumbered hovels,
  And I must go down, down--I know not where--
  Pray for all men and women mad from famine;
  Pray, you good neighbours.

(_The_ PEASANTS _all kneel_. COUNTESS CATHLEEN _ascends the steps to the
door of the oratory, and turning round stands there motionless for a
little, and then cries in a loud voice_:)

                              Mary, Queen of angels,
  And all you clouds on clouds of saints, farewell!

END OF SCENE III.



SCENE IV


     SCENE.--_A wood near the Castle, as in Scene II. A group of_
     PEASANTS _pass_.

  FIRST PEASANT

  I have seen silver and copper, but not gold.

  SECOND PEASANT

  It's yellow and it shines.

  FIRST PEASANT

                            It's beautiful.
  The most beautiful thing under the sun,
  That's what I've heard.

  THIRD PEASANT

                              I have seen gold enough.

  FOURTH PEASANT

  I would not say that it's so beautiful.

  FIRST PEASANT

  But doesn't a gold piece glitter like the sun?
  That's what my father, who'd seen better days,
  Told me when I was but a little boy--
  So high--so high, it's shining like the sun,
  Round and shining, that is what he said.

  SECOND PEASANT

  There's nothing in the world it cannot buy.

  FIRST PEASANT

  They've bags and bags of it.

(_They go out._ _The two_ MERCHANTS _follow silently_. _Then_ ALEEL
_passes over the stage singing_.)

  ALEEL

  Impetuous heart be still, be still,
  Your sorrowful love can never be told,
  Cover it up with a lonely tune.
  He who could bend all things to His will
  Has covered the door of the infinite fold
  With the pale stars and the wandering moon.

END OF SCENE IV.



SCENE V


     SCENE.--_The house of_ SHEMUS RUA. _There is an alcove at the back
     with curtains; in it a bed, and on the bed is the body of_ MARY
     _with candles round it_. _The two_ MERCHANTS _while they speak put
     a large book upon a table, arrange money, and so on_.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Thanks to that lie I told about her ships
  And that about the herdsman lying sick,
  We shall be too much thronged with souls to-morrow.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  What has she in her coffers now but mice?

  FIRST MERCHANT

  When the night fell and I had shaped myself
  Into the image of the man-headed owl,
  I hurried to the cliffs of Donegal,
  And saw with all their canvas full of wind
  And rushing through the parti-coloured sea
  Those ships that bring the woman grain and meal.
  They're but three days from us.

  SECOND MERCHANT

                                      When the dew rose
  I hurried in like feathers to the east,
  And saw nine hundred oxen driven through Meath
  With goads of iron. They're but three days from us.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Three days for traffic.

(PEASANTS _crowd in with_ TEIG _and_ SHEMUS.)

  SHEMUS

                   Come in, come in, you are welcome.
  That is my wife. She mocked at my great masters,
  And would not deal with them. Now there she is;
  She does not even know she was a fool,
  So great a fool she was.

  TEIG

                           She would not eat
  One crumb of bread bought with our master's money,
  But lived on nettles, dock, and dandelion.

  SHEMUS

  There's nobody could put into her head
  That Death is the worst thing can happen us.
  Though that sounds simple, for her tongue grew rank
  With all the lies that she had heard in chapel.
  Draw to the curtain. (TEIG _draws it_.) You'll not play the fool
  While these good gentlemen are there to save you.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  Since the drought came they drift about in a throng,
  Like autumn leaves blown by the dreary winds.
  Come, deal--come, deal.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                           Who will come deal with us?

  SHEMUS

  They are out of spirit, sir, with lack of food,
  Save four or five. Here, sir, is one of these;
  The others will gain courage in good time.

  MIDDLE-AGED-MAN

  I come to deal--if you give honest price.

  FIRST MERCHANT (_reading in a book_)

  "John Maher, a man of substance, with dull mind,
  And quiet senses and unventurous heart.
  The angels think him safe." Two hundred crowns,
  All for a soul, a little breath of wind.

  THE MAN

  I ask three hundred crowns. You have read there
  That no mere lapse of days can make me yours.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  There is something more writ here--"Often at night
  He is wakeful from a dread of growing poor,
  And thereon wonders if there's any man
  That he could rob in safety."

  A PEASANT

                                Who'd have thought it?
  And I was once alone with him at midnight.

  ANOTHER PEASANT

  I will not trust my mother after this.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  There is this crack in you--two hundred crowns.

  A PEASANT

  That's plenty for a rogue.

  ANOTHER PEASANT

                               I'd give him nothing.

  SHEMUS

  You'll get no more--so take what's offered you.

(_A general murmur, during which the_ MIDDLE-AGED MAN _takes money, and
slips into background, where he sinks on to a seat_.)

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Has no one got a better soul than that?
  If only for the credit of your parishes,
  Traffic with us.

  A WOMAN

                   What will you give for mine?

  FIRST MERCHANT (_reading in book_)

  "Soft, handsome, and still young"--not much, I think.
  "It's certain that the man she's married to
  Knows nothing of what's hidden in the jar
  Between the hour-glass and the pepper-pot."

  THE WOMAN

  The scandalous book.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                          "Nor how when he's away
  At the horse fair the hand that wrote what's hid
  Will tap three times upon the window-pane."

  THE WOMAN

  And if there is a letter, that is no reason
  Why I should have less money than the others.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  You're almost safe, I give you fifty crowns.

(_She turns to go._)

  A hundred, then.

  SHEMUS

                      Woman, have sense--come, come.
  Is this a time to haggle at the price?
  There, take it up. There, there. That's right.

(_She takes them and goes into the crowd._)

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Come, deal, deal, deal. It is but for charity
  We buy such souls at all; a thousand sins
  Made them our Master's long before we came.

(ALEEL _enters_.)

  ALEEL

  Here, take my soul, for I am tired of it.
  I do not ask a price.

  SHEMUS

                         Not ask a price?
  How can you sell your soul without a price?
  I would not listen to his broken wits;
  His love for Countess Cathleen has so crazed him
  He hardly understands what he is saying.

  ALEEL

  The trouble that has come on Countess Cathleen,
  The sorrow that is in her wasted face,
  The burden in her eyes, have broke my wits,
  And yet I know I'd have you take my soul.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We cannot take your soul, for it is hers.

  ALEEL

  No, but you must. Seeing it cannot help her
  I have grown tired of it.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                Begone from me,
  I may not touch it.

  ALEEL

                         Is your power so small?
  And must I bear it with me all my days?
  May you be scorned and mocked!

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                   Drag him away.
  He troubles me.

(TEIG _and_ SHEMUS _lead_ ALEEL _into the crowd_.)

  SECOND MERCHANT

                     His gaze has filled me, brother,
  With shaking and a dreadful fear.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                     Lean forward
  And kiss the circlet where my Master's lips
  Were pressed upon it when he sent us hither;
  You shall have peace once more.

(SECOND MERCHANT _kisses the gold circlet that is about the head of the_
FIRST MERCHANT.)

                                   I, too, grow weary,
  But there is something moving in my heart
  Whereby I know that what we seek the most
  Is drawing near--our labour will soon end.
  Come, deal, deal, deal, deal, deal; are you all dumb?
  What, will you keep me from our ancient home,
  And from the eternal revelry?

  SECOND MERCHANT

                                  Deal, deal.

  SHEMUS

  They say you beat the woman down too low.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  I offer this great price: a thousand crowns
  For an old woman who was always ugly.

(_An old_ PEASANT WOMAN _comes forward, and he takes up a book and
reads_:)

  There is but little set down here against her.
  "She has stolen eggs and fowl when times were bad,
  But when the times grew better has confessed it;
  She never missed her chapel of a Sunday
  And when she could, paid dues." Take up your money.

  OLD WOMAN

  God bless you, sir. (_She screams._) Oh, sir, a pain went through me!

  FIRST MERCHANT

  That name is like a fire to all damned souls.

(_Murmur among the_ PEASANTS, _who shrink back from her as she goes
out_.)

  A PEASANT

  How she screamed out!

  SECOND PEASANT

                          And maybe we shall scream so.

  THIRD PEASANT

  I tell you there is no such place as hell.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Can such a trifle turn you from your profit?
  Come, deal; come, deal.

  MIDDLE-AGED MAN

                             Master, I am afraid.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  I bought your soul, and there's no sense in fear
  Now the soul's gone.

  MIDDLE-AGED MAN

                          Give me my soul again.

  WOMAN (_going on her knees and clinging to_
  MERCHANT)

  And take this money too, and give me mine.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  Bear bastards, drink or follow some wild fancy;
  For sighs and cries are the soul's work,
  And you have none.

(_Throws the woman off._)

  PEASANT

                       Come, let's away.

  ANOTHER PEASANT

                                          Yes, yes.

  ANOTHER PEASANT

  Come quickly; if that woman had not screamed
  I would have lost my soul.

  ANOTHER PEASANT

                                 Come, come away.

(_They turn to door, but are stopped by shouts of "Countess Cathleen!
Countess Cathleen!"_)

  CATHLEEN (_entering_)

  And so you trade once more?

  FIRST MERCHANT

                                In spite of you.
  What brings you here, saint with the sapphire eyes?

  CATHLEEN

  I come to barter a soul for a great price.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  What matter, if the soul be worth the price?

  CATHLEEN

  The people starve, therefore the people go
  Thronging to you. I hear a cry come from them
  And it is in my ears by night and day,
  And I would have five hundred thousand crowns
  That I may feed them till the dearth go by.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  It may be the soul's worth it.

  CATHLEEN

                                   There is more:
  The souls that you have bought must be set free.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We know of but one soul that's worth the price.

  CATHLEEN

  Being my own it seems a priceless thing.

  SECOND MERCHANT

  You offer us----

  CATHLEEN

                     I offer my own soul.

  A PEASANT

  Do not, do not, for souls the like of ours
  Are not precious to God as your soul is.
  O! what would Heaven do without you, lady?

  ANOTHER PEASANT

  Look how their claws clutch in their leathern gloves.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  Five hundred thousand crowns; we give the price.
  The gold is here; the souls even while you speak
  Have slipped out of our bond, because your face
  Has shed a light on them and filled their hearts.
  But you must sign, for we omit no form
  In buying a soul like yours.

  SECOND MERCHANT

                                Sign with this quill
  It was a feather growing on the cock
  That crowed when Peter dared deny his Master,
  And all who use it have great honour in Hell.

(CATHLEEN _leans forward to sign_.)

  ALEEL (_rushing forward and snatching the
  pen from her_)

  Leave all things to the builder of the heavens.

  CATHLEEN

  I have no thoughts; I hear a cry--a cry.

  ALEEL (_casting the pen on the ground_)

  I have seen a vision under a green hedge,
  A hedge of hips and haws--men yet shall hear
  The Archangels rolling Satan's empty skull
  Over the mountain-tops.

  FIRST MERCHANT

                            Take him away.

(TEIG _and_ SHEMUS _drag him roughly away so that he falls upon the
floor among the_ PEASANTS. CATHLEEN _picks up parchment and signs, then
turns towards the_ PEASANTS.)

  CATHLEEN

  Take up the money, and now come with me;
  When we are far from this polluted place
  I will give everybody money enough.

(_She goes out, the_ PEASANTS _crowding round her and kissing her
dress_. ALEEL _and the two_ MERCHANTS _are left alone_.)

  SECOND MERCHANT

  We must away and wait until she dies,
  Sitting above her tower as two grey owls,
  Waiting as many years as may be, guarding
  Our precious jewel; waiting to seize her soul.

  FIRST MERCHANT

  We need but hover over her head in the air,
  For she has only minutes. When she signed
  Her heart began to break. Hush, hush, I hear
  The brazen door of Hell move on its hinges,
  And the eternal revelry float hither
  To hearten us.

  SECOND MERCHANT

                    Leap feathered on the air
  And meet them with her soul caught in your claws.

(_They rush out._ ALEEL _crawls into the middle of the room_. _The
twilight has fallen and gradually darkens as the scene goes on. There is
a distant muttering of thunder and a sound of rising storm._)

  ALEEL

  The brazen door stands wide, and Balor comes
  Borne in his heavy car, and demons have lifted
  The age-weary eyelids from the eyes that of old
  Turned gods to stone; Barach, the traitor, comes
  And the lascivious race, Cailitin,
  That cast a druid weakness and decay
  Over Sualtem's and old Dectera's child;
  And that great king Hell first took hold upon
  When he killed Naisi and broke Deirdre's heart
  And all their heads are twisted to one side,
  For when they lived they warred on beauty and peace
  With obstinate, crafty, sidelong bitterness.

(_He moves about as though the air above him was full of spirits_. OONA
_enters_.)

  Crouch down, old heron, out of the blind storm.

  OONA

  Where is the Countess Cathleen? All this day
  Her eyes were full of tears, and when for a moment
  Her hand was laid upon my hand it trembled,
  And now I do not know where she is gone.

  ALEEL

  Cathleen has chosen other friends than us,
  And they are rising through the hollow world.
  Demons are out, old heron.

  OONA

                               God guard her soul.

  ALEEL

  She's bartered it away this very hour,
  As though we two were never in the world.

(_He points downward._)

  First, Orchill, her pale, beautiful head
  Her body shadowy as vapour drifting
  Under the dawn, for she who awoke desire
  Has but a heart of blood when others die;
  About her is a vapoury multitude
  Of women alluring devils with soft laughter;
  Behind her a host heat of the blood made sin,
  But all the little pink-white nails have grown
  To be great talons.

(_He seizes_ OONA _and drags her into the middle of the room and points
downward with vehement gestures_. _The wind roars._)

                         They begin a song
  And there is still some music on their tongues.

  OONA (_casting herself face downwards on the floor_)

  O, Maker of all, protect her from the demons,
  And if a soul must need be lost, take mine.

(ALEEL _kneels beside her, but does not seem to hear her words_. _The_
PEASANTS _return_. _They carry the_ COUNTESS CATHLEEN _and lay her upon
the ground before_ OONA _and_ ALEEL. _She lies there as if dead._)

  OONA

  O, that so many pitchers of rough clay
  Should prosper and the porcelain break in two!

  (_She kisses the hands of_ CATHLEEN.)

  A PEASANT

  We were under the tree where the path turns,
  When she grew pale as death and fainted away.
  And while we bore her hither cloudy gusts
  Blackened the world and shook us on our feet;
  Draw the great bolt, for no man has beheld
  So black, bitter, blinding, and sudden a storm.

(_One who is near the door draws the bolt._)

  CATHLEEN

  O, hold me, and hold me tightly, for the storm
  Is dragging me away.

(OONA _takes her in her arms_. A WOMAN _begins to wail_.)

  PEASANT

                       Hush!

  PEASANTS

                                 Hush!

  PEASANT WOMEN

                                        Hush!

  OTHER PEASANT WOMEN

                                              Hush!

  CATHLEEN (_half rising_)

  Lay all the bags of money in a heap,
  And when I am gone, old Oona, share them out
  To every man and woman: judge, and give
  According to their needs.

  A PEASANT WOMAN

                              And will she give
  Enough to keep my children through the dearth?

  ANOTHER PEASANT WOMAN

  O, Queen of Heaven, and all you blessed saints,
  Let us and ours be lost so she be shriven.

  CATHLEEN

  Bend down your faces, Oona and Aleel;
  I gaze upon them as the swallow gazes
  Upon the nest under the eave, before
  She wander the loud waters. Do not weep
  Too great a while, for there is many a candle
  On the High Altar though one fall. Aleel,
  Who sang about the dancers of the woods,
  That know not the hard burden of the world,
  Having but breath in their kind bodies, farewell!
  And farewell, Oona, you who played with me,
  And bore me in your arms about the house
  When I was but a child and therefore happy,
  Therefore happy, even like those that dance.
  The storm is in my hair and I must go.

(_She dies._)

  OONA

  Bring me the looking-glass.

(A WOMAN _brings it to her out of the inner room_. OONA _holds it over
the lips of_ CATHLEEN. _All is silent for a moment. And then she speaks
in a half scream_:)

                                O, she is dead!

  A PEASANT

  She was the great white lily of the world.

  A PEASANT

  She was more beautiful than the pale stars.

  AN OLD PEASANT WOMAN

  The little plant I love is broken in two.

(ALEEL _takes looking-glass from_ OONA _and flings it upon the floor so
that it is broken in many pieces_.)

  ALEEL

  I shatter you in fragments, for the face
  That brimmed you up with beauty is no more:
  And die, dull heart, for she whose mournful words
  Made you a living spirit has passed away
  And left you but a ball of passionate dust.
  And you, proud earth and plumy sea, fade out!
  For you may hear no more her faltering feet,
  But are left lonely amid the clamorous war
  Of angels upon devils.

(_He stands up; almost every one is kneeling, but it has grown so dark
that only confused forms can be seen._)

                           And I who weep
  Call curses on you, Time and Fate and Change,
  And have no excellent hope but the great hour
  When you shall plunge headlong through bottomless space.

(_A flash of lightning followed immediately by thunder._)

  A PEASANT WOMAN

  Pull him upon his knees before his curses
  Have plucked thunder and lightning on our heads.

  ALEEL

  Angels and devils clash in the middle air,
  And brazen swords clang upon brazen helms.

(_A flash of lightning followed immediately by thunder._)

  Yonder a bright spear, cast out of a sling,
  Has torn through Balor's eye, and the dark clans
  Fly screaming as they fled Moytura of old.

(_Everything is lost in darkness._)

  AN OLD MAN

  The Almighty wrath at our great weakness and sin
  Has blotted out the world and we must die.

(_The darkness is broken by a visionary light. The_ PEASANTS _seem to be
kneeling upon the_ _rocky slope of a mountain, and vapour full of storm
and ever-changing light is sweeping above them and behind them. Half in
the light, half in the shadow, stand armed angels. Their armour is old
and worn, and their drawn swords dim and dinted. They stand as if upon
the air in formation of battle and look downward with stern faces. The_
PEASANTS _cast themselves on the ground_.)

  ALEEL

  Look no more on the half-closed gates of Hell,
  But speak to me, whose mind is smitten of God,
  That it may be no more with mortal things,
  And tell of her who lies there.

(_He seizes one of the angels._)

                                   Till you speak
  You shall not drift into eternity.

  THE ANGEL

  The light beats down; the gates of pearl are wide
  And she is passing to the floor of peace,
  And Mary of the seven times wounded heart
  Has kissed her lips, and the long blessed hair
  Has fallen on her face; The Light of Lights
  Looks always on the motive, not the deed,
  The Shadow of Shadows on the deed alone.

(ALEEL _releases the_ ANGEL _and kneels_.)

  OONA

  Tell them who walk upon the floor of peace
  That I would die and go to her I love;
  The years like great black oxen tread the world,
  And God the herdsman goads them on behind
  And I am broken by their passing feet.

(_A sound of far-off horns seems to come from the heart of the Light.
The vision melts away, and the forms of the kneeling_ PEASANTS _appear
faintly in the darkness_.)



THE ROSE


     "_Sero te amavi, Pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova! Sero te
     amavi._"

  S. AUGUSTINE.


TO LIONEL JOHNSON


TO THE ROSE UPON THE ROOD OF TIME


  _Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
  Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
  Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
  The Druid, gray, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
  Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
  And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
  In dancing silver sandalled on the sea,
  Sing in their high and lonely melody.
  Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
  I find under the boughs of love and hate,
  In all poor foolish things that live a day,
  Eternal beauty wandering on her way._

  _Come near, come near, come near--Ah, leave me still
  A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
  Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
  The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,_
  _The field mouse running by me in the grass,
  And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
  But seek alone to hear the strange things said
  By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
  And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
  Come near; I would, before my time to go,
  Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
  Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days._


FERGUS AND THE DRUID


  FERGUS

  The whole day have I followed in the rocks,
  And you have changed and flowed from shape to shape.
  First as a raven on whose ancient wings
  Scarcely a feather lingered, then you seemed
  A weasel moving on from stone to stone,
  And now at last you wear a human shape,
  A thin gray man half lost in gathering night.

  DRUID

  What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

  FERGUS

  This would I say, most wise of living souls:
  Young subtle Concobar sat close by me
  When I gave judgment, and his words were wise,
  And what to me was burden without end,
  To him seemed easy, so I laid the crown
  Upon his head to cast away my care.

  DRUID

  What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

  FERGUS

  I feast amid my people on the hill,
  And pace the woods, and drive my chariot wheels
  In the white border of the murmuring sea;
  And still I feel the crown upon my head.

  DRUID

  What would you?

  FERGUS

                    I would be no more a king
  But learn the dreaming wisdom that is yours.

  DRUID

  Look on my thin gray hair and hollow cheeks
  And on these hands that may not lift the sword
  This body trembling like a wind-blown reed.
  No woman loves me, no man seeks my help,
  Because I be not of the things I dream.

  FERGUS

  A wild and foolish labourer is a king,
  To do and do and do, and never dream.

  DRUID

  Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
  Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.

  FERGUS

  I see my life go dripping like a stream
  From change to change; I have been many things,
  A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
  Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
  An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
  A king sitting upon a chair of gold,
  And all these things were wonderful and great;
  But now I have grown nothing, being all,
  And the whole world weighs down upon my heart:
  Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
  Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured bag!


THE DEATH OF CUCHULAIN


  A man came slowly from the setting sun,
  To Forgail's daughter, Emer, in her dun,
  And found her dyeing cloth with subtle care,
  And said, casting aside his draggled hair:
  "I am Aleel, the swineherd, whom you bid
  "Go dwell upon the sea cliffs, vapour hid;
  "But now my years of watching are no more."

  Then Emer cast the web upon the floor,
  And stretching out her arms, red with the dye,
  Parted her lips with a loud sudden cry.

  Looking on her, Aleel, the swineherd, said:
  "Not any god alive, nor mortal dead,
  "Has slain so mighty armies, so great kings,
  "Nor won the gold that now Cuchulain brings."

  "Why do you tremble thus from feet to crown?"

  Aleel, the swineherd, wept and cast him down
  Upon the web-heaped floor, and thus his word:
  "With him is one sweet-throated like a bird."

  "Who bade you tell these things?" and then she cried
  To those about, "Beat him with thongs of hide
  "And drive him from the door."

                                  And thus it was:
  And where her son, Finmole, on the smooth grass
  Was driving cattle, came she with swift feet,
  And called out to him, "Son, it is not meet
  "That you stay idling here with flocks and herds."

  "I have long waited, mother, for those words:
  "But wherefore now?"

                          "There is a man to die;
  "You have the heaviest arm under the sky."

  "My father dwells among the sea-worn bands,
  "And breaks the ridge of battle with his hands."

  "Nay, you are taller than Cuchulain, son."

  "He is the mightiest man in ship or dun."

  "Nay, he is old and sad with many wars,
  "And weary of the crash of battle cars."

  "I only ask what way my journey lies,
  "For God, who made you bitter, made you wise."

  "The Red Branch kings a tireless banquet keep,
  "Where the sun falls into the Western deep.
  "Go there, and dwell on the green forest rim;
  "But tell alone your name and house to him
  "Whose blade compels, and bid them send you one
  "Who has a like vow from their triple dun."

  Between the lavish shelter of a wood
  And the gray tide, the Red Branch multitude
  Feasted, and with them old Cuchulain dwelt,
  And his young dear one close beside him knelt,
  And gazed upon the wisdom of his eyes,
  More mournful than the depth of starry skies,
  And pondered on the wonder of his days;
  And all around the harp-string told his praise,
  And Concobar, the Red Branch king of kings,
  With his own fingers touched the brazen strings.
  At last Cuchulain spake, "A young man strays
  "Driving the deer along the woody ways.
  "I often hear him singing to and fro,
  "I often hear the sweet sound of his bow,
  "Seek out what man he is."

                              One went and came.
  "He bade me let all know he gives his name
  "At the sword point, and bade me bring him one
  "Who had a like vow from our triple dun."

  "I only of the Red Branch hosted now,"
  Cuchulain cried, "have made and keep that vow."

  After short fighting in the leafy shade,
  He spake to the young man, "Is there no maid
  "Who loves you, no white arms to wrap you round,
  "Or do you long for the dim sleepy ground,
  "That you come here to meet this ancient sword?"

  "The dooms of men are in God's hidden hoard."

  "Your head a while seemed like a woman's head
  "That I loved once."

                        Again the fighting sped,
  But now the war rage in Cuchulain woke,
  And through the other's shield his long blade broke,
  And pierced him.

                  "Speak before your breath is done."
  "I am Finmole, mighty Cuchulain's son."

  "I put you from your pain. I can no more."

  While day its burden on to evening bore,
  With head bowed on his knees Cuchulain stayed;
  Then Concobar sent that sweet-throated maid,
  And she, to win him, his gray hair caressed;
  In vain her arms, in vain her soft white breast.
  Then Concobar, the subtlest of all men,
  Ranking his Druids round him ten by ten,
  Spake thus, "Cuchulain will dwell there and brood,
  "For three days more in dreadful quietude,
  "And then arise, and raving slay us all.
  "Go, cast on him delusions magical,
  "That he might fight the waves of the loud sea."
  And ten by ten under a quicken tree,
  The Druids chaunted, swaying in their hands
  Tall wands of alder, and white quicken wands.

  In three days' time, Cuchulain with a moan
  Stood up, and came to the long sands alone:
  For four days warred he with the bitter tide;
  And the waves flowed above him, and he died.


THE ROSE OF THE WORLD


  Who dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
  For these red lips, with all their mournful pride,
  Mournful that no new wonder may betide,
  Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam,
  And Usna's children died.

  We and the labouring world are passing by:
  Amid men's souls, that waver and give place,
  Like the pale waters in their wintry race,
  Under the passing stars, foam of the sky,
  Lives on this lonely face.

  Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode:
  Before you were, or any hearts to beat,
  Weary and kind one lingered by His seat;
  He made the world to be a grassy road
  Before her wandering feet.


THE ROSE OF PEACE


  If Michael, leader of God's host
  When Heaven and Hell are met,
  Looked down on you from Heaven's door-post
  He would his deeds forget.

  Brooding no more upon God's wars
  In his Divine homestead,
  He would go weave out of the stars
  A chaplet for your head.

  And all folk seeing him bow down,
  And white stars tell your praise,
  Would come at last to God's great town,
  Led on by gentle ways;

  And God would bid His warfare cease.
  Saying all things were well;
  And softly make a rosy peace,
  A peace of Heaven with Hell.


THE ROSE OF BATTLE


  Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
  The tall thought-woven sails, that flap unfurled
  Above the tide of hours, trouble the air,
  And God's bell buoyed to be the water's care;
  While hushed from fear, or loud with hope, a band
  With blown, spray-dabbled hair gather at hand.
  _Turn if you may from battles never done_,
  I call, as they go by me one by one,
  _Danger no refuge holds; and war no peace,
  For him who hears love sing and never cease,
  Beside her clean-swept hearth, her quiet shade:
  But gather all for whom no love hath made
  A woven silence, or but came to cast
  A song into the air, and singing past
  To smile on the pale dawn; and gather you
  Who have sought more than is in rain or dew
  Or in the sun and moon, or on the earth,_
  _Or sighs amid the wandering, starry mirth,
  Or comes in laughter from the sea's sad lips
  And wage God's battles in the long gray ships.
  The sad, the lonely, the insatiable,
  To these Old Night shall all her mystery tell;
  God's bell has claimed them by the little cry
  Of their sad hearts, that may not live nor die._

  Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
  You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
  Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
  The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.
  Beauty grown sad with its eternity
  Made you of us, and of the dim gray sea.
  Our long ships loose thought-woven sails and wait,
  For God has bid them share an equal fate;
  And when at last defeated in His wars,
  They have gone down under the same white stars,
  We shall no longer hear the little cry
  Of our sad hearts, that may not live nor die.


A FAERY SONG


     _Sung by the people of faery over Diarmuid and Grania, who lay in
     their bridal sleep under a Cromlech._

  We who are old, old and gay,
  O so old!
  Thousands of years, thousands of years,
  If all were told:

  Give to these children, new from the world,
  Silence and love;
  And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
  And the stars above:

  Give to these children, new from the world,
  Rest far from men.
  Is anything better, anything better?
  Tell us it then:

  Us who are old, old and gay,
  O so old!
  Thousands of years, thousands of years,
  If all were told.


THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE


  I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
  And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
  Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
  And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

  And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
  Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
  There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
  And evening full of the linnet's wings.

  I will arise and go now, for always night and day
  I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
  While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
  I hear it in the deep heart's core.


A CRADLE SONG


  "_Coth yani me von gilli beg,
  'N heur ve thu more a creena_."

  The angels are stooping
  Above your bed;
  They weary of trooping
  With the whimpering dead.

  God's laughing in heaven
  To see you so good;
  The Shining Seven
  Are gay with His mood.

  I kiss you and kiss you,
  My pigeon, my own;
  Ah, how I shall miss you
  When you have grown.


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-gray waters are flowing
  Threaten the head that I love.


THE SORROW OF LOVE


  The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves,
  The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
  And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves,
  Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.

  And then you came with those red mournful lips,
  And with you came the whole of the world's tears
  And all the trouble of her labouring ships,
  And all the trouble of her myriad years.

  And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
  The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,
  And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves,
  Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.


WHEN YOU ARE OLD


  When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
  And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
  And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
  Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

  How many loved your moments of glad grace,
  And loved your beauty will love false or true;
  But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
  And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

  And bending down beside the glowing bars
  Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
  And paced upon the mountains overhead
  And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


THE WHITE BIRDS


  I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!
  We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee;
  And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low
    on the rim of the sky,
  Has awaked in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.

  A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew dabbled, the lily and rose;
  Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes,
  Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low
    in the fall of the dew:
  For I would we were changed to white birds on the
    wandering foam: I and you!

  I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,
  Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;
  Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be,
  Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!


A DREAM OF DEATH


  I dreamed that one had died in a strange place
  Near no accustomed hand;
  And they had nailed the boards above her face
  The peasants of that land,
  Wondering to lay her in that solitude,
  And raised above her mound
  A cross they had made out of two bits of wood,
  And planted cypress round;
  And left her to the indifferent stars above
  Until I carved these words:
  _She was more beautiful than thy first love,
  But now lies under boards_.


A DREAM OF A BLESSED SPIRIT


  All the heavy days are over;
  Leave the body's coloured pride
  Underneath the grass and clover,
  With the feet laid side by side.

  One with her are mirth and duty,
  Bear the gold embroidered dress,
  For she needs not her sad beauty,
  To the scented oaken press.

  Hers the kiss of Mother Mary,
  The long hair is on her face;
  Still she goes with footsteps wary,
  Full of earth's old timid grace.

  With white feet of angels seven
  Her white feet go glimmering
  And above the deep of heaven,
  Flame on flame and wing on wing.


WHO GOES WITH FERGUS?


  Who will go drive with Fergus now,
  And pierce the deep wood's woven shade,
  And dance upon the level shore?
  Young man, lift up your russet brow,
  And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
  And brood on hopes and fears no more.

  And no more turn aside and brood
  Upon Love's bitter mystery;
  For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
  And rules the shadows of the wood,
  And the white breast of the dim sea
  And all dishevelled wandering stars.


THE MAN WHO DREAMED OF FAERYLAND


  He stood among a crowd at Drumahair;
  His heart hung all upon a silken dress,
  And he had known at last some tenderness,
  Before earth made of him her sleepy care;
  But when a man poured fish into a pile,
  It seemed they raised their little silver heads,
  And sang how day a Druid twilight sheds
  Upon a dim, green, well-beloved isle,
  Where people love beside star-laden seas;
  How Time may never mar their faery vows
  Under the woven roofs of quicken boughs:
  The singing shook him out of his new ease.

  He wandered by the sands of Lisadill;
  His mind ran all on money cares and fears,
  And he had known at last some prudent years
  Before they heaped his grave under the hill;
  But while he passed before a plashy place,
  A lug-worm with its gray and muddy mouth
  Sang how somewhere to north or west or south
  There dwelt a gay, exulting, gentle race;
  And how beneath those three times blessed skies
  A Danaan fruitage makes a shower of moons,
  And as it falls awakens leafy tunes:
  And at that singing he was no more wise.

  He mused beside the well of Scanavin,
  He mused upon his mockers: without fail
  His sudden vengeance were a country tale,
  Now that deep earth has drunk his body in;
  But one small knot-grass growing by the pool
  Told where, ah, little, all-unneeded voice!
  Old Silence bids a lonely folk rejoice,
  And chaplet their calm brows with leafage cool,
  And how, when fades the sea-strewn rose of day,
  A gentle feeling wraps them like a fleece,
  And all their trouble dies into its peace:
  The tale drove his fine angry mood away.

  He slept under the hill of Lugnagall;
  And might have known at last unhaunted sleep
  Under that cold and vapour-turbaned steep,
  Now that old earth had taken man and all:
  Were not the worms that spired about his bones
  A-telling with their low and reedy cry,
  Of how God leans His hands out of the sky,
  To bless that isle with honey in His tones;
  That none may feel the power of squall and wave
  And no one any leaf-crowned dancer miss
  Until He burn up Nature with a kiss:
  The man has found no comfort in the grave.


THE DEDICATION TO A BOOK OF STORIES SELECTED FROM THE IRISH NOVELISTS


  There was a green branch hung with many a bell
  When her own people ruled in wave-worn Eire;
  And from its murmuring greenness, calm of faery,
  A Druid kindness, on all hearers fell.

  It charmed away the merchant from his guile,
  And turned the farmer's memory from his cattle,
  And hushed in sleep the roaring ranks of battle,
  For all who heard it dreamed a little while.

  Ah, Exiles wandering over many seas,
  Spinning at all times Eire's good to-morrow!
  Ah, worldwide Nation, always growing Sorrow!
  I also bear a bell branch full of ease.

  I tore it from green boughs winds tossed and hurled,
  Green boughs of tossing always, weary, weary!
  I tore it from the green boughs of old Eire,
  The willow of the many-sorrowed world.

  Ah, Exiles, wandering over many lands!
  My bell branch murmurs: the gay bells bring laughter,
  Leaping to shake a cobweb from the rafter;
  The sad bells bow the forehead on the hands.

  A honeyed ringing: under the new skies
  They bring you memories of old village faces,
  Cabins gone now, old well-sides, old dear places;
  And men who loved the cause that never dies.


THE LAMENTATION OF THE OLD PENSIONER


  I had a chair at every hearth,
  When no one turned to see,
  With "Look at that old fellow there,
  "And who may he be?"
  And therefore do I wander now,
  And the fret lies on me.

  The road-side trees keep murmuring
  Ah, wherefore murmur ye,
  As in the old days long gone by,
  Green oak and poplar tree?
  The well-known faces are all gone
  And the fret lies on me.


THE BALLAD OF FATHER GILLIGAN


  The old priest Peter Gilligan
  Was weary night and day;
  For half his flock were in their beds,
  Or under green sods lay.

  Once, while he nodded on a chair,
  At the moth-hour of eve,
  Another poor man sent for him,
  And he began to grieve.

  "I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,
  "For people die and die";
  And after cried he, "God forgive!
  "My body spake, not I!"

  He knelt, and leaning on the chair
  He prayed and fell asleep;
  And the moth-hour went from the fields,
  And stars began to peep.

  They slowly into millions grew,
  And leaves shook in the wind;
  And God covered the world with shade,
  And whispered to mankind.

  Upon the time of sparrow chirp
  When the moths came once more,
  The old priest Peter Gilligan
  Stood upright on the floor.

  "Mavrone, mavrone! the man has died,
  "While I slept on the chair";
  He roused his horse out of its sleep,
  And rode with little care.

  He rode now as he never rode,
  By rocky lane and fen;
  The sick man's wife opened the door:
  "Father! you come again!"

  "And is the poor man dead?" he cried,
  "He died an hour ago,"
  The old priest Peter Gilligan
  In grief swayed to and fro.

  "When you were gone, he turned and died
  "As merry as a bird."
  The old priest Peter Gilligan
  He knelt him at that word.

  "He who hath made the night of stars
  "For souls, who tire and bleed,
  "Sent one of His great angels down
  "To help me in my need.

  "He who is wrapped in purple robes,
  "With planets in His care,
  "Had pity on the least of things
  "Asleep upon a chair."


THE TWO TREES


  Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
  The holy tree is growing there;
  From joy the holy branches start,
  And all the trembling flowers they bear.
  The changing colours of its fruit
  Have dowered the stars with merry light;
  The surety of its hidden root
  Has planted quiet in the night;
  The shaking of its leafy head
  Has given the waves their melody,
  And made my lips and music wed,
  Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
  There, through bewildered branches, go
  Winged Loves borne on in gentle strife,
  Tossing and tossing to and fro
  The flaming circle of our life.
  When looking on their shaken hair,
  And dreaming how they dance and dart,
  Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
  Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

  Gaze no more in the bitter glass
  The demons, with their subtle guile,
  Lift up before us when they pass,
  Or only gaze a little while;
  For there a fatal image grows,
  With broken boughs, and blackened leaves,
  And roots half hidden under snows
  Driven by a storm that ever grieves.
  For all things turn to barrenness
  In the dim glass the demons hold,
  The glass of outer weariness,
  Made when God slept in times of old.
  There, through the broken branches, go
  The ravens of unresting thought;
  Peering and flying to and fro
  To see men's souls bartered and bought.
  When they are heard upon the wind,
  And when they shake their wings; alas!
  Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
  Gaze no more in the bitter glass.


TO IRELAND IN THE COMING TIMES


  _Know, that I would accounted be
  True brother of that company,
  Who sang to sweeten Ireland's wrong,
  Ballad and story, rann and song;
  Nor be I any less of them,
  Because the red-rose-bordered hem
  Of her, whose history began
  Before God made the angelic clan,
  Trails all about the written page;
  For in the world's first blossoming age
  The light fall of her flying feet
  Made Ireland's heart begin to beat;
  And still the starry candles flare
  To help her light foot here and there;
  And still the thoughts of Ireland brood
  Upon her holy quietude._

  _Nor may I less be counted one
  With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson,
  Because to him, who ponders well,
  My rhymes more than their rhyming tell
  Of the dim wisdoms old and deep,
  That God gives unto man in sleep.
  For the elemental beings go
  About my table to and fro.
  In flood and fire and clay and wind,
  They huddle from man's pondering mind;
  Yet he who treads in austere ways
  May surely meet their ancient gaze.
  Man ever journeys on with them
  After the red-rose-bordered hem.
  Ah, faeries, dancing under the moon,
  A Druid land, a Druid tune!_

  _While still I may, I write for you
  The love I lived, the dream I knew.
  From our birthday, until we die,
  Is but the winking of an eye;
  And we, our singing and our love,
  The mariners of night above,
  And all the wizard things that go
  About my table to and fro.
  Are passing on to where may be,
  In truth's consuming ecstasy
  No place for love and dream at all;
  For God goes by with white foot-fall.
  I cast my heart into my rhymes,
  That you, in the dim coming times,
  May know how my heart went with them
  After the red-rose-bordered hem._



THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE


  _O Rose, thou art sick._

  WILLIAM BLAKE.

TO

FLORENCE FARR


  MAURTEEN BRUIN
  BRIDGET BRUIN
  SHAWN BRUIN
  MARY BRUIN
  FATHER HART
  A FAERY CHILD

     _The Scene is laid in the Barony of Kilmacowen, in the County of
     Sligo, and at a remote time._


     SCENE.--_A room with a hearth on the floor in the middle of a deep
     alcove to the Right. There are benches in the alcove and a table;
     and a crucifix on the wall. The alcove is full of a glow of light
     from the fire. There is an open door facing the audience to the
     Left, and to the left of this a bench. Through the door one can see
     the forest. It is night, but the moon or a late sunset glimmers
     through the trees and carries the eye far off into a vague,
     mysterious world._ MAURTEEN BRUIN, SHAWN BRUIN, _and_ BRIDGET BRUIN
     _sit in the alcove at the table or about the fire. They are dressed
     in the costume of some remote time, and near them sits an old
     priest_, FATHER HART. _He may be dressed as a friar. There is food
     and drink upon the table_. MARY BRUIN _stands by the door reading a
     book. If she looks up she can see through the door into the wood._

  BRIDGET

  Because I bid her clean the pots for supper
  She took that old book down out of the thatch;
  She has been doubled over it ever since.
  We should be deafened by her groans and moans
  Had she to work as some do, Father Hart;
  Get up at dawn like me and mend and scour
  Or ride abroad in the boisterous night like you,
  The pyx and blessed bread under your arm.

  SHAWN

  Mother, you are too cross.

  BRIDGET

                              You've married her,
  And fear to vex her and so take her part.

  MAURTEEN (_to_ FATHER HART)

  It is but right that youth should side with youth;
  She quarrels with my wife a bit at times,
  And is too deep just now in the old book!
  But do not blame her greatly; she will grow
  As quiet as a puff-ball in a tree
  When but the moons of marriage dawn and die
  For half a score of times.

  FATHER HART

                                Their hearts are wild,
  As be the hearts of birds, till children come.

  BRIDGET

  She would not mind the kettle, milk the cow,
  Or even lay the knives and spread the cloth.

  SHAWN

  Mother, if only----

  MAURTEEN

                        Shawn, this is half empty;
  Go, bring up the best bottle that we have.

  FATHER HART

  I never saw her read a book before,
  What can it be?

  MAURTEEN (_to_ SHAWN)

                    What are you waiting for?
  You must not shake it when you draw the cork;
  It's precious wine, so take your time about it.

(_To Priest._)                    (SHAWN _goes_.)

  There was a Spaniard wrecked at Ocris Head,
  When I was young, and I have still some bottles.
  He cannot bear to hear her blamed; the book
  Has lain up in the thatch these fifty years;
  My father told me my grandfather wrote it,
  And killed a heifer for the binding of it--
  But supper's spread, and we can talk and eat
  It was little good he got out of the book,
  Because it filled his house with rambling fiddlers,
  And rambling ballad-makers and the like.
  The griddle-bread is there in front of you.
  Colleen, what is the wonder in that book,
  That you must leave the bread to cool? Had I
  Or had my father read or written books
  There were no stocking stuffed with yellow guineas
  To come when I am dead to Shawn and you.

  FATHER HART

  You should not fill your head with foolish dreams.
  What are you reading?

  MARY

                          How a Princess Edane,
  A daughter of a King of Ireland, heard
  A voice singing on a May Eve like this,
  And followed half awake and half asleep,
  Until she came into the Land of Faery,
  Where nobody gets old and godly and grave,
  Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise,
  Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue.
  And she is still there, busied with a dance
  Deep in the dewy shadow of a wood,
  Or where stars walk upon a mountain-top.

  MAURTEEN

  Persuade the colleen to put down the book;
  My grandfather would mutter just such things,
  And he was no judge of a dog or a horse,
  And any idle boy could blarney him;
  Just speak your mind.

  FATHER HART

                          Put it away, my colleen;
  God spreads the heavens above us like great wings
  And gives a little round of deeds and days,
  And then come the wrecked angels and set snares,
  And bait them with light hopes and heavy dreams,
  Until the heart is puffed with pride and goes
  Half shuddering and half joyous from God's peace;
  And it was some wrecked angel, blind with tears,
  Who flattered Edane's heart with merry words.
  My colleen, I have seen some other girls
  Restless and ill at ease, but years went by
  And they grew like their neighbours and were glad
  In minding children, working at the churn,
  And gossiping of weddings and of wakes;
  For life moves out of a red flare of dreams
  Into a common light of common hours,
  Until old age bring the red flare again.

  MAURTEEN

  That's true--but she's too young to know it's true.

  BRIDGET

  She's old enough to know that it is wrong
  To mope and idle.

  MAURTEEN

                      I've little blame for her;
  She's dull when my big son is in the fields,
  And that and maybe this good woman's tongue
  Have driven her to hide among her dreams
  Like children from the dark under the bed-clothes.

  BRIDGET

  She'd never do a turn if I were silent.

  MAURTEEN

  And maybe it is natural upon May Eve
  To dream of the good people. But tell me, girl,
  If you've the branch of blessed quicken wood
  That women hang upon the post of the door
  That they may send good luck into the house?
  Remember they may steal new-married brides
  After the fall of twilight on May Eve,
  Or what old women mutter at the fire
  Is but a pack of lies.

  FATHER HART

                          It may be truth.
  We do not know the limit of those powers
  God has permitted to the evil spirits
  For some mysterious end. You have done right (_to_ MARY);
  It's well to keep old innocent customs up.

(MARY BRUIN _has taken a bough of quicken wood from a seat and hung it
on a nail in the door-post. A girl child strangely dressed, perhaps in
faery green, comes out of the wood and takes it away_.)

  MARY

  I had no sooner hung it on the nail
  Before a child ran up out of the wind;
  She has caught it in her hand and fondled it;
  Her face is pale as water before dawn.

  FATHER HART

  Whose child can this be?

  MAURTEEN

                          No one's child at all.
  She often dreams that some one has gone by,
  When there was nothing but a puff of wind.

  MARY

  They have taken away the blessed quicken wood,
  They will not bring good luck into the house;
  Yet I am glad that I was courteous to them,
  For are not they, likewise, children of God?

  FATHER HART

  Colleen, they are the children of the fiend,
  And they have power until the end of Time,
  When God shall fight with them a great pitched battle
  And hack them into pieces.

  MARY

                              He will smile,
  Father, perhaps, and open His great door.

  FATHER HART

  Did but the lawless angels see that door
  They would fall, slain by everlasting peace;
  And when such angels knock upon our doors,
  Who goes with them must drive through the same storm.

(_A thin old arm comes round the door-post and knocks and beckons. It is
clearly seen in the silvery light._ MARY BRUIN _goes to door and stands
in it for a moment_. MAURTEEN BRUIN _is busy filling_ FATHER HART'S
_plate_. BRIDGET BRUIN _stirs the fire_.)

  MARY (_coming to table_)

  There's somebody out there that beckoned me
  And raised her hand as though it held a cup,
  And she was drinking from it, so it may be
  That she is thirsty.

(_She takes milk from the table and carries it to the door._)

  FATHER HART

                         That will be the child
  That you would have it was no child at all.

  BRIDGET

  And maybe, Father, what he said was true;
  For there is not another night in the year
  So wicked as to-night.

  MAURTEEN

                          Nothing can harm us
  While the good Father's underneath our roof.

  MARY

  A little queer old woman dressed in green.

  BRIDGET

  The good people beg for milk and fire
  Upon May Eve--woe to the house that gives,
  For they have power upon it for a year.

  MAURTEEN

  Hush, woman, hush!

  BRIDGET

                        She's given milk away.
  I knew she would bring evil on the house.

  MAURTEEN

  Who was it?

  MARY

                Both the tongue and face were strange.

  MAURTEEN

  Some strangers came last week to Clover Hill;
  She must be one of them.

  BRIDGET

                            I am afraid.

  FATHER HART

  The Cross will keep all evil from the house
  While it hangs there.

  MAURTEEN

                        Come, sit beside me, colleen,
  And put away your dreams of discontent,
  For I would have you light up my last days,
  Like the good glow of the turf; and when I die
  You'll be the wealthiest hereabout, for, colleen,
  I have a stocking full of yellow guineas
  Hidden away where nobody can find it.

  BRIDGET

  You are the fool of every pretty face,
  And I must spare and pinch that my son's wife
  May have all kinds of ribbons for her head.

  MAURTEEN

  Do not be cross; she is a right good girl!
  The butter is by your elbow, Father Hart.
  My colleen, have not Fate and Time and Change
  Done well for me and for old Bridget there?
  We have a hundred acres of good land,
  And sit beside each other at the fire.
  I have this reverend Father for my friend,
  I look upon your face and my son's face--
  We've put his plate by yours--and here he comes,
  And brings with him the only thing we have lacked,
  Abundance of good wine. (SHAWN _comes in_.) Stir up the fire,
  And put new turf upon it till it blaze;
  To watch the turf-smoke coiling from the fire,
  And feel content and wisdom in your heart,
  This is the best of life; when we are young
  We long to tread a way none trod before,
  But find the excellent old way through love,
  And through the care of children, to the hour
  For bidding Fate and Time and Change goodbye.

(MARY _takes a sod of turf from the fire and goes out through the door_.
SHAWN _follows her and meets her coming in_.)

  SHAWN

  What is it draws you to the chill o' the wood?
  There is a light among the stems of the trees
  That makes one shiver.

  MARY

                          A little queer old man
  Made me a sign to show he wanted fire
  To light his pipe.

  BRIDGET

                      You've given milk and fire
  Upon the unluckiest night of the year and brought,
  For all you know, evil upon the house.
  Before you married you were idle and fine
  And went about with ribbons on your head;
  And now--no, Father, I will speak my mind--
  She is not a fitting wife for any man----

  SHAWN

  Be quiet, Mother!

  MAURTEEN

                        You are much too cross.

  MARY

  What do I care if I have given this house,
  Where I must hear all day a bitter tongue,
  Into the power of faeries!

  BRIDGET

                              You know well
  How calling the good people by that name,
  Or talking of them over much at all,
  May bring all kinds of evil on the house.

  MARY

  Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house!
  Let me have all the freedom I have lost;
  Work when I will and idle when I will!
  Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
  For I would ride with you upon the wind.
  Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
  And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

  FATHER HART

  You cannot know the meaning of your words.

  MARY

  Father, I am right weary of four tongues:
  A tongue that is too crafty and too wise,
  A tongue that is too godly and too grave,
  A tongue that is more bitter than the tide,
  And a kind tongue too full of drowsy love,
  Of drowsy love and my captivity.

(SHAWN BRUIN _leads her to a seat at the left of the door_.)

  SHAWN

  Do not blame me; I often lie awake
  Thinking that all things trouble your bright head.
  How beautiful it is--your broad pale forehead
  Under a cloudy blossoming of hair!
  Sit down beside me here--these are too old,
  And have forgotten they were ever young.

  MARY

  O, you are the great door-post of this house,
  And I the branch of blessed quicken wood,
  And if I could I'd hang upon the post,
  Till I had brought good luck into the house.

(_She would put her arms about him, but looks shyly at the priest and
lets her arms fall._)

  FATHER HART

  My daughter, take his hand--by love alone
  God binds us to Himself and to the hearth,
  That shuts us from the waste beyond His peace,
  From maddening freedom and bewildering light.

  SHAWN

  Would that the world were mine to give it you,
  And not its quiet hearths alone, but even
  All that bewilderment of light and freedom,
  If you would have it.

  MARY

                        I would take the world
  And break it into pieces in my hands
  To see you smile watching it crumble away.

  SHAWN

  Then I would mould a world of fire and dew,
  With no one bitter, grave or over wise,
  And nothing marred or old to do you wrong,
  And crowd the enraptured quiet of the sky
  With candles burning to your lonely face.

  MARY

  Your looks are all the candles that I need.

  SHAWN

  Once a fly dancing in a beam of the sun,
  Or the light wind blowing out of the dawn,
  Could fill your heart with dreams none other knew,
  But now the indissoluble sacrament
  Has mixed your heart that was most proud and cold
  With my warm heart for ever; the sun and moon
  Must fade and heaven be rolled up like a scroll;
  But your white spirit still walk by my spirit.

(_A Voice singing in the wood._)

  MAURTEEN

  There's some one singing. Why, it's but a child.
  It sang, "The lonely of heart is withered away."
  A strange song for a child, but she sings sweetly.
  Listen, listen!

(_Goes to door._)

  MARY

                        O, cling close to me,
  Because I have said wicked things to-night.

  THE VOICE

  The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
  The wind blows over the lonely of heart,
  And the lonely of heart is withered away.
  While the faeries dance in a place apart,
  Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
  Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
  For they hear the wind laugh and murmur and sing
  Of a land where even the old are fair,
  And even the wise are merry of tongue;
  But I heard a reed of Coolaney say,
  "When the wind has laughed and murmured and sung
  The lonely of heart is withered away!"

  MAURTEEN

  Being happy, I would have all others happy,
  So I will bring her in out of the cold.

(_He brings in the faery child._)

  THE CHILD

  I tire of winds and waters and pale lights.

  MAURTEEN

  And that's no wonder, for when night has fallen
  The wood's a cold and a bewildering place,
  But you are welcome here.

  THE CHILD

                              I am welcome here.
  For when I tire of this warm little house
  There is one here that must away, away.

  MAURTEEN

  O, listen to her dreamy and strange talk.
  Are you not cold?

  THE CHILD

                      I will crouch down beside you,
  For I have run a long, long way this night.

  BRIDGET

  You have a comely shape.

  MAURTEEN

                            Your hair is wet.

  BRIDGET

  I'll warm your chilly feet.

  MAURTEEN

                              You have come indeed
  A long, long way--for I have never seen
  Your pretty face--and must be tired and hungry,
  Here is some bread and wine.

  THE CHILD

                                The wine is bitter.
  Old mother, have you no sweet food for me?

  BRIDGET

  I have some honey.

(_She goes into the next room._)

  MAURTEEN

                      You have coaxing ways,
  The mother was quite cross before you came.

(BRIDGET _returns with the honey and fills a porringer with milk_.)

  BRIDGET

  She is the child of gentle people; look
  At her white hands and at her pretty dress.
  I've brought you some new milk, but wait a while
  And I will put it to the fire to warm,
  For things well fitted for poor folk like us
  Would never please a high-born child like you.

  THE CHILD

  From dawn, when you must blow the fire ablaze,
  You work your fingers to the bone, old mother.
  The young may lie in bed and dream and hope,
  But you must work your fingers to the bone
  Because your heart is old.

  BRIDGET

                            The young are idle.

  THE CHILD

  Your memories have made you wise, old father;
  The young must sigh through many a dream and hope,
  But you are wise because your heart is old.

(BRIDGET _gives her more bread and honey_.)

  MAURTEEN

  O, who would think to find so young a girl
  Loving old age and wisdom?

  THE CHILD

                                No more, mother.

  MAURTEEN

  What a small bite! The milk is ready now.
    (_Hands it to her._) What a small sip!

  THE CHILD

                        Put on my shoes, old mother.
  Now I would like to dance now I have eaten,
  The reeds are dancing by Coolaney lake,
  And I would like to dance until the reeds
  And the white waves have danced themselves asleep.

(BRIDGET _puts on the shoes, and the_ CHILD _is about to dance, but
suddenly sees the crucifix and shrieks and covers her eyes_.)

  What is that ugly thing on the black cross?

  FATHER HART

  You cannot know how naughty your words are!
  That is our Blessed Lord.

  THE CHILD

                            Hide it away!

  BRIDGET

  I have begun to be afraid again.

  THE CHILD

                                  Hide it away!

  MAURTEEN

  That would be wickedness!

  BRIDGET

  That would be sacrilege!

  THE CHILD

                          The tortured thing!
  Hide it away!

  MAURTEEN

                Her parents are to blame.

  FATHER HART

  That is the image of the Son of God.

  THE CHILD (_caressing him_)

  Hide it away, hide it away!

  MAURTEEN

                                No, no.

  FATHER HART

  Because you are so young and like a bird,
  That must take fright at every stir of the leaves,
  I will go take it down.

  THE CHILD

                          Hide it away!
  And cover it out of sight and out of mind!

(FATHER HART _takes crucifix from wall and carries it towards inner
room_.)

  FATHER HART

  Since you have come into this barony,
  I will instruct you in our blessed faith;
  And being so keen witted you'll soon learn.

(_To the others._)

  We must be tender to all budding things,
  Our Maker let no thought of Calvary
  Trouble the morning stars in their first song.

(_Puts crucifix in inner room._)

  THE CHILD

  Here is level ground for dancing; I will dance.

(_Sings._)

  "The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
  The wind blows over the lonely of heart,
  And the lonely of heart is withered away."

(_She dances._)

  MARY (_to_ SHAWN)

  Just now when she came near I thought I heard
  Other small steps beating upon the floor,
  And a faint music blowing in the wind,
  Invisible pipes giving her feet the tune.

  SHAWN

  I heard no steps but hers.

  MARY

                              I hear them now,
  The unholy powers are dancing in the house.

  MAURTEEN

  Come over here, and if you promise me
  Not to talk wickedly of holy things
  I will give you something.

  THE CHILD

                            Bring it me, old father.

  MAURTEEN

  Here are some ribbons that I bought in the town
  For my son's wife--but she will let me give them
  To tie up that wild hair the winds have tumbled.

  THE CHILD

  Come, tell me, do you love me?

  MAURTEEN

                                  Yes, I love you.

  THE CHILD

  Ah, but you love this fireside. Do you love me?

  FATHER HART

  When the Almighty puts so great a share
  Of His own ageless youth into a creature,
  To look is but to love.

  THE CHILD

                          But you love Him?

  BRIDGET

  She is blaspheming.

  THE CHILD

                      And do you love me too?

  MARY

  I do not know.

  THE CHILD

                  You love that young man there,
  Yet I could make you ride upon the winds,
  Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
  And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

  MARY

  Queen of Angels and kind saints defend us!
  Some dreadful thing will happen. A while ago
  She took away the blessed quicken wood.

  FATHER HART

  You fear because of her unmeasured prattle;
  She knows no better. Child, how old are you?

  THE CHILD

  When winter sleep is abroad my hair grows thin,
  My feet unsteady. When the leaves awaken
  My mother carries me in her golden arms;
  I'll soon put on my womanhood and marry
  The spirits of wood and water, but who can tell
  When I was born for the first time? I think
  I am much older than the eagle cock
  That blinks and blinks on Ballygawley Hill,
  And he is the oldest thing under the moon.

  FATHER HART

  O she is of the faery people.

  THE CHILD

                                One called,
  I sent my messengers for milk and fire,
  She called again and after that I came.

(_All except_ SHAWN _and_ MARY BRUIN _gather behind the priest for
protection_.)

  SHAWN (_rising_)

  Though you have made all these obedient,
  You have not charmed my sight and won from me
  A wish or gift to make you powerful;
  I'll turn you from the house.

  FATHER HART

                                No, I will face her.

  THE CHILD

  Because you took away the crucifix
  I am so mighty that there's none can pass,
  Unless I will it, where my feet have danced
  Or where I've whirled my finger-tops.

(SHAWN _tries to approach her and cannot_.)

  MAURTEEN

                                        Look, look!
  There something stops him--look how he moves his hands
  As though he rubbed them on a wall of glass!

  FATHER HART

  I will confront this mighty spirit alone;
  Be not afraid, the Father is with us,
  The Holy Martyrs and the Innocents,
  The adoring Magi in their coats of mail,
  And He who died and rose on the third day,
  And all the nine angelic hierarchies.

(_The_ CHILD _kneels upon the settle beside_ MARY _and puts her arms
about her_.)

  Cry, daughter, to the Angels and the Saints.

  THE CHILD

  You shall go with me, newly-married bride,
  And gaze upon a merrier multitude.
  White-armed Nuala, Aengus of the Birds,
  Feacra of the hurtling foam, and him
  Who is the ruler of the Western Host,
  Finvarra, and their Land of Heart's Desire,
  Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood,
  But joy is wisdom, Time an endless song.
  I kiss you and the world begins to fade.

  SHAWN

  Awake out of that trance--and cover up
  Your eyes and ears.

  FATHER HART

                      She must both look and listen,
  For only the soul's choice can save her now.
  Come over to me, daughter; stand beside me;
  Think of this house and of your duties in it.

  THE CHILD

  Stay and come with me, newly-married bride,
  For if you hear him you grow like the rest;
  Bear children, cook, and bend above the churn,
  And wrangle over butter, fowl, and eggs,
  Until at last, grown old and bitter of tongue,
  You're crouching there and shivering at the grave.

  FATHER HART

  Daughter, I point you out the way to Heaven.

  THE CHILD

  But I can lead you, newly-married bride,
  Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise,
  Where nobody gets old and godly and grave,
  Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue,
  And where kind tongues bring no captivity;
  For we are but obedient to the thoughts
  That drift into the mind at a wink of the eye.

  FATHER HART

  By the dear Name of the One crucified,
  I bid you, Mary Bruin, come to me.

  THE CHILD

  I keep you in the name of your own heart.

  FATHER HART

  It is because I put away the crucifix
  That I am nothing, and my power is nothing.
  I'll bring it here again.

  MAURTEEN (_clinging to him_)

                            No.

  BRIDGET

                                Do not leave us.

  FATHER HART

  O, let me go before it is too late;
  It is my sin alone that brought it all.

(_Singing outside._)

  THE CHILD

  I hear them sing, "Come, newly-married bride,
  Come, to the woods and waters and pale lights."

  MARY

  I will go with you.

  FATHER HART

                      She is lost, alas!

  THE CHILD (_standing by the door_)

  But clinging mortal hope must fall from you,
  For we who ride the winds, run on the waves,
  And dance upon the mountains are more light
  Than dewdrops on the banner of the dawn.

  MARY

  O, take me with you.

  SHAWN

                        Beloved, I will keep you.
  I've more than words, I have these arms to hold you,
  Nor all the faery host, do what they please,
  Shall ever make me loosen you from these arms.

  MARY

  Dear face! Dear voice!

  THE CHILD

                        Come, newly-married bride.

  MARY

  I always loved her world--and yet--and yet----

  THE CHILD

  White bird, white bird, come with me, little bird.

  MARY

  She calls me!

  THE CHILD

                Come with me, little bird.

(_Distant dancing figures appear in the wood._)

  MARY

  I can hear songs and dancing.

  SHAWN

                                Stay with me.

  MARY

  I think that I would stay--and yet--and yet----

  THE CHILD

  Come, little bird, with crest of gold.

  MARY (_very softly_)

                                        And yet----

  THE CHILD

  Come, little bird with silver feet!

(MARY BRUIN _dies, and the_ CHILD _goes_.)

  SHAWN

                                      She is dead!

  BRIDGET

  Come from that image; body and soul are gone.
  You have thrown your arms about a drift of leaves,
  Or bole of an ash-tree changed into her image.

  FATHER HART

  Thus do the spirits of evil snatch their prey,
  Almost out of the very hand of God;
  And day by day their power is more and more,
  And men and women leave old paths, for pride
  Comes knocking with thin knuckles on the heart.

(_Outside there are dancing figures, and it may be a white bird, and
many voices singing_:)

  "The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
  The wind blows over the lonely of heart,
  And the lonely of heart is withered away;
  While the faeries dance in a place apart,
  Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
  Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
  For they hear the wind laugh and murmur and sing
  Of a land where even the old are fair,
  And even the wise are merry of tongue;
  But I heard a reed of Coolaney say--
  'When the wind has laughed and murmured and sung,
  The lonely of heart is withered away.'"



CROSSWAYS


  _"The stars are threshed, and the souls are threshed from their husks."_

  WILLIAM BLAKE.

To A.E.


THE SONG OF THE HAPPY SHEPHERD


  The woods of Arcady are dead,
  And over is their antique joy;
  Of old the world on dreaming fed;
  Gray Truth is now her painted toy;
  Yet still she turns her restless head:
  But O, sick children of the world,
  Of all the many changing things
  In dreary dancing past us whirled,
  To the cracked tune that Chronos sings,
  Words alone are certain good.
  Where are now the warring kings,
  Word be-mockers?--By the Rood
  Where are now the warring kings?
  An idle word is now their glory,
  By the stammering schoolboy said,
  Reading some entangled story:
  The kings of the old time are fled
  The wandering earth herself may be
  Only a sudden flaming word,
  In clanging space a moment heard,
  Troubling the endless reverie.

  Then nowise worship dusty deeds,
  Nor seek; for this is also sooth;
  To hunger fiercely after truth,
  Lest all thy toiling only breeds
  New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth
  Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then,
  No learning from the starry men,
  Who follow with the optic glass
  The whirling ways of stars that pass--
  Seek, then, for this is also sooth,
  No word of theirs--the cold star-bane
  Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain,
  And dead is all their human truth.
  Go gather by the humming-sea
  Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell,
  And to its lips thy story tell,
  And they thy comforters will be,
  Rewarding in melodious guile,
  Thy fretful words a little while,
  Till they shall singing fade in ruth,
  And die a pearly brotherhood;
  For words alone are certain good:
  Sing, then, for this is also sooth.

  I must be gone: there is a grave
  Where daffodil and lily wave,
  And I would please the hapless faun,
  Buried under the sleepy ground,
  With mirthful songs before the dawn.
  His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
  And still I dream he treads the lawn,
  Walking ghostly in the dew,
  Pierced by my glad singing through,
  My songs of old earth's dreamy youth:
  But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou!
  For fair are poppies on the brow:
  Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.


THE SAD SHEPHERD


  There was a man whom Sorrow named his friend,
  And he, of his high comrade Sorrow dreaming,
  Went walking with slow steps along the gleaming
  And humming sands, where windy surges wend:
  And he called loudly to the stars to bend
  From their pale thrones and comfort him, but they
  Among themselves laugh on and sing alway:
  And then the man whom Sorrow named his friend
  Cried out, _Dim sea, hear my most piteous story!_
  The sea swept on and cried her old cry still,
  Rolling along in dreams from hill to hill;
  He fled the persecution of her glory
  And, in a far-off, gentle valley stopping,
  Cried all his story to the dewdrops glistening,
  But naught they heard, for they are always listening,
  The dewdrops, for the sound of their own dropping.
  And then the man whom Sorrow named his friend,
  Sought once again the shore, and found a shell,
  And thought, _I will my heavy story tell
  Till my own words, re-echoing, shall send
  Their sadness through a hollow, pearly heart;
  And my own tale again for me shall sing,
  And my own whispering words be comforting,
  And lo! my ancient burden may depart_.
  Then he sang softly nigh the pearly rim;
  But the sad dweller by the sea-ways lone
  Changed all he sang to inarticulate moan
  Among her wildering whirls, forgetting him.


THE CLOAK, THE BOAT, AND THE SHOES


  "What do you make so fair and bright?"

  "I make the cloak of Sorrow:
  "O, lovely to see in all men's sight
  "Shall be the cloak of Sorrow,
  "In all men's sight."

  "What do you build with sails for flight?"

  "I build a boat for Sorrow,
  "O, swift on the seas all day and night
  "Saileth the rover Sorrow,
  "All day and night."

  "What do you weave with wool so white?

  "I weave the shoes of Sorrow,
  "Soundless shall be the footfall light
  "In all men's ears of Sorrow,
  "Sudden and light."


ANASHUYA AND VIJAYA


     _A little Indian temple in the Golden Age. Around it a garden;
     around that the forest._ ANASHUYA, _the young priestess, kneeling
     within the temple_.

  ANASHUYA

  Send peace on all the lands and flickering corn.--
  O, may tranquillity walk by his elbow
  When wandering in the forest, if he love
  No other.--Hear, and may the indolent flocks
  Be plentiful.--And if he love another,
  May panthers end him.--Hear, and load our king
  With wisdom hour by hour.--May we two stand,
  When we are dead, beyond the setting suns,
  A little from the other shades apart,
  With mingling hair, and play upon one lute.

  VIJAYA [_entering and throwing a lily at her_]

  Hail! hail, my Anashuya.

  ANASHUYA

                                No: be still.
  I, priestess of this temple, offer up
  Prayers for the land.

  VIJAYA

                        I will wait here, Amrita.

  ANASHUYA

  By mighty Brahma's ever rustling robe,
  Who is Amrita? Sorrow of all sorrows!
  Another fills your mind.

  VIJAYA

                            My mother's name.

  ANASHUYA [_sings, coming out of the temple_]

  _A sad, sad thought went by me slowly:
  Sigh, O you little stars! O, sigh and shake your blue apparel!
  The sad, sad thought has gone from me now wholly:
  Sing, O you little stars! O, sing and raise your rapturous carol
  To mighty Brahma, he who made you many as the sands,
  And laid you on the gates of evening with his quiet hands._

[_Sits down on the steps of the temple._]

  Vijaya, I have brought my evening rice;
  The sun has laid his chin on the gray wood,
  Weary, with all his poppies gathered round him.

  VIJAYA

  The hour when Kama, full of sleepy laughter,
  Rises, and showers abroad his fragrant arrows,
  Piercing the twilight with their murmuring barbs.

  ANASHUYA

  See how the sacred old flamingoes come,
  Painting with shadow all the marble steps:
  Aged and wise, they seek their wonted perches
  Within the temple, devious walking, made
  To wander by their melancholy minds.
  Yon tall one eyes my supper; swiftly chase him
  Far, far away. I named him after you.
  He is a famous fisher; hour by hour
  He ruffles with his bill the minnowed streams.
  Ah! there he snaps my rice. I told you so.
  Now cuff him off. He's off! A kiss for you,
  Because you saved my rice. Have you no thanks?

  VIJAYA [_sings_]

  _Sing you of her, O first few stars,
  Whom Brahma, touching with his finger, praises, for you hold_
  _The van of wandering quiet; ere you be too calm and old,
  Sing, turning in your cars,
  Sing, till you raise your hands and sigh, and from your car heads peer,
  With all your whirling hair, and drop many an azure tear._

  ANASHUYA

  What know the pilots of the stars of tears?

  VIJAYA

  Their faces are all worn, and in their eyes
  Flashes the fire of sadness, for they see
  The icicles that famish all the north,
  Where men lie frozen in the glimmering snow;
  And in the flaming forests cower the lion
  And lioness, with all their whimpering cubs;
  And, ever pacing on the verge of things,
  The phantom, Beauty, in a mist of tears;
  While we alone have round us woven woods,
  And feel the softness of each other's hand,
  Amrita, while----

  ANASHUYA [_going away from him_]

                    Ah me, you love another,

[_Bursting into tears._]

  And may some dreadful ill befall her quick!

  VIJAYA

  I loved another; now I love no other.
  Among the mouldering of ancient woods
  You live, and on the village border she,
  With her old father the blind wood-cutter;
  I saw her standing in her door but now.

  ANASHUYA

  Vijaya, swear to love her never more,

  VIJAYA

  Ay, ay.

  ANASHUYA

          Swear by the parents of the gods,
  Dread oath, who dwell on sacred Himalay,
  On the far Golden Peak; enormous shapes,
  Who still were old when the great sea was young
  On their vast faces mystery and dreams;
  Their hair along the mountains rolled and filled
  From year to year by the unnumbered nests
  Of aweless birds, and round their stirless feet
  The joyous flocks of deer and antelope,
  Who never hear the unforgiving hound.
  Swear!

  VIJAYA

        By the parents of the gods, I swear.

  ANASHUYA [_sings_]

  _I have forgiven, O new star!
  Maybe you have not heard of us, you have come forth so newly,
  You hunter of the fields afar!
  Ah, you will know my loved one by his hunter's arrows truly,
  Shoot on him shafts of quietness, that he may ever keep
  An inner laughter, and may kiss his hands to me in sleep._

  Farewell, Vijaya. Nay, no word, no word;
  I, priestess of this temple, offer up
  Prayers for the land.

[VIJAYA _goes_.]

                        O Brahma, guard in sleep
  The merry lambs and the complacent kine,
  The flies below the leaves, and the young mice
  In the tree roots, and all the sacred flocks
  Of red flamingo; and my love, Vijaya;
  And may no restless fay with fidget finger
  Trouble his sleeping: give him dreams of me.


THE INDIAN UPON GOD


  I passed along the water's edge below the humid trees,
  My spirit rocked in evening light, the rushes round my knees,
  My spirit rocked in sleep and sighs; and saw the moorfowl pace
  All dripping on a grassy slope, and saw them cease to chase
  Each other round in circles, and heard the eldest speak:
  _Who holds the world between His bill and made us strong or weak
  Is an undying moorfowl, and He lives beyond the sky.
  The rains are from His dripping wing, the moonbeams from His eye._
  I passed a little further on and heard a lotus talk:
  _Who made the world and ruleth it, He hangeth on a stalk,_
  _For I am in His image made, and all this tinkling tide
  Is but a sliding drop of rain between His petals wide._
  A little way within the gloom a roebuck raised his eyes
  Brimful of starlight, and he said: _The Stamper of the Skies,
  He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He
  Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?_
  I passed a little further on and heard a peacock say:
  _Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathers gay,
  He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night
  His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light._


THE INDIAN TO HIS LOVE


  The island dreams under the dawn
  And great boughs drop tranquillity;
  The peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
  A parrot sways upon a tree,
  Raging at his own image in the enamelled sea.

  Here we will moor our lonely ship
  And wander ever with woven hands,
  Murmuring softly lip to lip,
  Along the grass, along the sands,
  Murmuring how far away are the unquiet lands:

  How we alone of mortals are
  Hid under quiet bows apart,
  While our love grows an Indian star,
  A meteor of the burning heart,
  One with the tide that gleams, the wings that gleam and dart,
  The heavy boughs, the burnished dove
  That moans and sighs a hundred days:
  How when we die our shades will rove,
  When eve has hushed the feathered ways,
  With vapoury footsole among the water's drowsy blaze.


THE FALLING OF THE LEAVES


  Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
  And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
  Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
  And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

  The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
  And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
  Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
  With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.


EPHEMERA


  "Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
  "Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
  "Because our love is waning."

                                And then she:
  "Although our love is waning, let us stand
  "By the lone border of the lake once more,
  "Together in that hour of gentleness
  "When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:
  "How far away the stars seem, and how far
  "Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!"

  Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
  While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
  "Passion has often worn our wandering hearts."

  The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
  Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
  A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
  Autumn was over him: and now they stood
  On the lone border of the lake once more:
  Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
  Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
  In bosom and hair.

                     "Ah, do not mourn," he said,
  "That we are tired, for other loves await us;
  "Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
  "Before us lies eternity; our souls
  "Are love, and a continual farewell."


THE MADNESS OF KING GOLL


  I sat on cushioned otter skin:
  My word was law from Ith to Emen,
  And shook at Invar Amargin
  The hearts of the world-troubling seamen.
  And drove tumult and war away
  From girl and boy and man and beast;
  The fields grew fatter day by day,
  The wild fowl of the air increased;
  And every ancient Ollave said,
  While he bent down his fading head,
  "He drives away the Northern cold."
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._

  I sat and mused and drank sweet wine;
  A herdsman came from inland valleys,
  Crying, the pirates drove his swine
  To fill their dark-beaked hollow galleys.
  I called my battle-breaking men,
  And my loud brazen battle-cars
  From rolling vale and rivery glen,
  And under the blinking of the stars
  Fell on the pirates by the deep,
  And hurled them in the gulph of sleep:
  These hands won many a torque of gold.
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._

  But slowly, as I shouting slew
  And trampled in the bubbling mire,
  In my most secret spirit grew
  A whirling and a wandering fire:
  I stood: keen stars above me shone,
  Around me shone keen eyes of men:
  I laughed aloud and hurried on
  By rocky shore and rushy fen;
  I laughed because birds fluttered by,
  And starlight gleamed, and clouds flew high,
  And rushes waved and waters rolled.
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._

  And now I wander in the woods
  When summer gluts the golden bees,
  Or in autumnal solitudes
  Arise the leopard-coloured trees;
  Or when along the wintry strands
  The cormorants shiver on their rocks;
  I wander on, and wave my hands,
  And sing, and shake my heavy locks.
  The gray wolf knows me; by one ear
  I lead along the woodland deer;
  The hares run by me growing bold.
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._

  I came upon a little town,
  That slumbered in the harvest moon,
  And passed a-tiptoe up and down,
  Murmuring, to a fitful tune,
  How I have followed, night and day,
  A tramping of tremendous feet,
  And saw where this old tympan lay,
  Deserted on a doorway seat,
  And bore it to the woods with me;
  Of some unhuman misery
  Our married voiced wildly trolled.
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._

  I sang how, when day's toil is done,
  Orchil shakes out her long dark hair
  That hides away the dying sun
  And sheds faint odours through the air:
  When my hand passed from wire to wire
  It quenched, with sound like falling dew,
  The whirling and the wandering fire;
  But lift a mournful ulalu,
  For the kind wires are torn and still,
  And I must wander wood and hill
  Through summer's heat and winter's cold.
  _They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me,
    the beech leaves old._


THE STOLEN CHILD


  Where dips the rocky highland
  Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
  There lies a leafy island
  Where flapping herons wake
  The drowsy water rats;
  There we've hid our faery vats,
  Full of berries,
  And of reddest stolen cherries.
  _Come away, O human child!
  To the waters and the wild
  With a faery, hand in hand,
  For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand._

  Where the wave of moonlight glosses
  The dim gray sands with light,
  Far off by furthest Rosses
  We foot it all the night,
  Weaving olden dances,
  Mingling hands and mingling glances
  Till the moon has taken flight;
  To and fro we leap
  And chase the frothy bubbles,
  While the world is full of troubles
  And is anxious in its sleep.
  _Come away, O human child!
  To the waters and the wild
  With a faery, hand in hand,
  For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand._

  Where the wandering water gushes
  From the hills above Glen-Car,
  In pools among the rushes
  That scarce could bathe a star,
  We seek for slumbering trout
  And whispering in their ears
  Give them unquiet dreams;
  Leaning softly out
  From ferns that drop their tears
  Over the young streams,
  _Come away, O human child!
  To the waters and the wild
  With a faery, hand in hand,
  For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand._

  Away with us he's going,
  The solemn-eyed:
  He'll hear no more the lowing
  Of the calves on the warm hillside
  Or the kettle on the hob
  Sing peace into his breast,
  Or see the brown mice bob
  Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
  _For he comes, the human child,
  To the waters and the wild
  With a faery, hand in hand,
  From a world more full of weeping than he can understand._


TO AN ISLE IN THE WATER


  Shy one, shy one,
  Shy one of my heart,
  She moves in the firelight
  Pensively apart.

  She carries in the dishes,
  And lays them in a row.
  To an isle in the water
  With her would I go.

  She carries in the candles,
  And lights the curtained room,
  Shy in the doorway
  And shy in the gloom;

  And shy as a rabbit,
  Helpful and shy.
  To an isle in the water
  With her would I fly.


DOWN BY THE SALLEY GARDENS


  Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
  She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
  She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
  But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

  In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
  And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
  She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
  But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.


THE MEDITATION OF THE OLD FISHERMAN


  You waves, though you dance by my feet like children at play,
  Though you glow and you glance, though you purr and you dart;
  In the Junes that were warmer than these are, the waves were more gay,
  _When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart_.

  The herring are not in the tides as they were of old;
  My sorrow! for many a creak gave the creel in the cart
  That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold,
  _When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart_.

  And ah, you proud maiden, you are not so fair when his oar
  Is heard on the water, as they were, the proud and apart,
  Who paced in the eve by the nets on the pebbly shore,
  _When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart_.


THE BALLAD OF FATHER O'HART


  Good Father John O'Hart
  In penal days rode out
  To a shoneen who had free lands
  And his own snipe and trout.

  In trust took he John's lands;
  Sleiveens were all his race;
  And he gave them as dowers to his daughters,
  And they married beyond their place.

  But Father John went up,
  And Father John went down;
  And he wore small holes in his shoes,
  And he wore large holes in his gown.

  All loved him, only the shoneen,
  Whom the devils have by the hair,
  From the wives, and the cats, and the children,
  To the birds in the white of the air.

  The birds, for he opened their cages
  As he went up and down;
  And he said with a smile, "Have peace now";
  And he went his way with a frown.

  But if when any one died
  Came keeners hoarser than rooks,
  He bade them give over their keening;
  For he was a man of books.

  And these were the works of John,
  When weeping score by score,
  People came into Coloony;
  For he'd died at ninety-four.

  There was no human keening;
  The birds from Knocknarea
  And the world round Knocknashee
  Came keening in that day.

  The young birds and old birds
  Came flying, heavy and sad;
  Keening in from Tiraragh,
  Keening from Ballinafad;

  Keening from Inishmurray,
  Nor stayed for bite or sup;
  This way were all reproved
  Who dig old customs up.


THE BALLAD OF MOLL MAGEE


  Come round me, little childer;
  There, don't fling stones at me
  Because I mutter as I go;
  But pity Moll Magee.

  My man was a poor fisher
  With shore lines in the say;
  My work was saltin' herrings
  The whole of the long day.

  And sometimes from the saltin' shed,
  I scarce could drag my feet
  Under the blessed moonlight,
  Along the pebbly street.

  I'd always been but weakly,
  And my baby was just born;
  A neighbour minded her by day
  I minded her till morn.

  I lay upon my baby;
  Ye little childer dear,
  I looked on my cold baby
  When the morn grew frosty and clear.

  A weary woman sleeps so hard!
  My man grew red and pale,
  And gave me money, and bade me go
  To my own place, Kinsale.

  He drove me out and shut the door,
  And gave his curse to me;
  I went away in silence,
  No neighbour could I see.

  The windows and the doors were shut,
  One star shone faint and green
  The little straws were turnin' round
  Across the bare boreen.

  I went away in silence:
  Beyond old Martin's byre
  I saw a kindly neighbour
  Blowin' her mornin' fire.

  She drew from me my story--
  My money's all used up,
  And still, with pityin', scornin' eye,
  She gives me bite and sup.

  She says my man will surely come,
  And fetch me home agin;
  But always, as I'm movin' round,
  Without doors or within,

  Pilin' the wood or pilin' the turf,
  Or goin' to the well,
  I'm thinkin' of my baby
  And keenin' to mysel'.

  And sometimes I am sure she knows
  When, openin' wide His door,
  God lights the stars, His candles,
  And looks upon the poor.

  So now, ye little childer,
  Ye won't fling stones at me;
  But gather with your shinin' looks
  And pity Moll Magee.


THE BALLAD OF THE FOXHUNTER


  "Now lay me in a cushioned chair
  "And carry me, you four,
  "With cushions here and cushions there,
  "To see the world once more.

  "And some one from the stables bring
  "My Dermot dear and brown,
  "And lead him gently in a ring,
  "And gently up and down.

  "Now leave the chair upon the grass:
  "Bring hound and huntsman here,
  "And I on this strange road will pass,
  "Filled full of ancient cheer."

  His eyelids droop, his head falls low,
  His old eyes cloud with dreams;
  The sun upon all things that grow
  Pours round in sleepy streams.

  Brown Dermot treads upon the lawn,
  And to the armchair goes,
  And now the old man's dreams are gone,
  He smooths the long brown nose.

  And now moves many a pleasant tongue
  Upon his wasted hands,
  For leading aged hounds and young
  The huntsman near him stands.

  "My huntsman, Rody, blow the horn,
  "And make the hills reply."
  The huntsman loosens on the morn
  A gay and wandering cry.

  A fire is in the old man's eyes,
  His fingers move and sway,
  And when the wandering music dies
  They hear him feebly say,

  "My huntsman, Rody, blow the horn,
  "And make the hills reply."
  "I cannot blow upon my horn,
  "I can but weep and sigh."

  The servants round his cushioned place
  Are with new sorrow wrung;
  And hounds are gazing on his face,
  Both aged hounds and young.

  One blind hound only lies apart
  On the sun-smitten grass;
  He holds deep commune with his heart:
  The moments pass and pass;

  The blind hound with a mournful din
  Lifts slow his wintry head;
  The servants bear the body in;
  The hounds wail for the dead.



THE WANDERINGS OF USHEEN


     "_Give me the world if Thou wilt, but grant me an asylum for my
     affections._"

  TULKA.

TO EDWIN J. ELLIS


BOOK I


  S. PATRIC

  You who are bent, and bald, and blind,
  With a heavy heart and a wandering mind,
  Have known three centuries, poets sing,
  Of dalliance with a demon thing.

  USHEEN

  Sad to remember, sick with years,
  The swift innumerable spears,
  The horsemen with their floating hair,
  And bowls of barley, honey, and wine,
  And feet of maidens dancing in tune,
  And the white body that lay by mine;
  But the tale, though words be lighter than air,
  Must live to be old like the wandering moon.

  Caolte, and Conan, and Finn were there,
  When we followed a deer with our baying hounds,
  With Bran, Sgeolan, and Lomair,
  And passing the Firbolgs' burial mounds,
  Came to the cairn-heaped grassy hill
  Where passionate Maive is stony still;
  And found on the dove-gray edge of the sea
  A pearl-pale, high-born lady, who rode
  On a horse with bridle of findrinny;
  And like a sunset were her lips,
  A stormy sunset on doomed ships;
  A citron colour gloomed in her hair,
  But down to her feet white vesture flowed,
  And with the glimmering crimson glowed
  Of many a figured embroidery;
  And it was bound with a pearl-pale shell
  That wavered like the summer streams,
  As her soft bosom rose and fell.

  S. PATRIC

  You are still wrecked among heathen dreams.

  USHEEN

  "Why do you wind no horn?" she said.
  "And every hero droop his head?
  "The hornless deer is not more sad
  "That many a peaceful moment had,
  "More sleek than any granary mouse,
  "In his own leafy forest house
  "Among the waving fields of fern:
  "The hunting of heroes should be glad."

  "O pleasant woman," answered Finn,
  "We think on Oscar's pencilled urn,
  "And on the heroes lying slain,
  On Gavra's raven-covered plain;
  "But where are your noble kith and kin,
  "And from what country do you ride?"

  "My father and my mother are
  "Aengus and Adene, my own name
  "Niam, and my country far
  "Beyond the tumbling of this tide."

  "What dream came with you that you came
  "Through bitter tide on foam wet feet?
  "Did your companion wander away
  "From where the birds of Aengus wing?"

  She said, with laughter tender and sweet:
  "I have not yet, war-weary king,
  "Been spoken of with any one;
  "Yet now I choose, for these four feet
  "Ran through the foam and ran to this
  "That I might have your son to kiss."

  "Were there no better than my son
  "That you through all that foam should run?"

  "I loved no man, though kings besought
  "Love, till the Danaan poets brought
  "Rhyme, that rhymed to Usheen's name,
  "And now I am dizzy with the thought
  "Of all that wisdom and the fame
  "Of battles broken by his hands,
  "Of stories builded by his words
  "That are like coloured Asian birds
  "At evening in their rainless lands."

  O Patric, by your brazen bell,
  There was no limb of mine but fell
  Into a desperate gulph of love!
  "You only will I wed," I cried,
  "And I will make a thousand songs,
  "And set your name all names above.
  "And captives bound with leathern thongs
  "Shall kneel and praise you, one by one,
  "At evening in my western dun."

  "O Usheen, mount by me and ride
  "To shores by the wash of the tremulous tide,
  "Where men have heaped no burial mounds,
  "And the days pass by like a wayward tune,
  "Where broken faith has never been known,
  "And the blushes of first love never have flown;
  "And there I will give you a hundred hounds;
  "No mightier creatures bay at the moon;
  "And a hundred robes of murmuring silk,
  "And a hundred calves and a hundred sheep
  "Whose long wool whiter than sea froth flows,
  "And a hundred spears and a hundred bows,
  "And oil and wine and honey and milk,
  "And always never-anxious sleep;
  "While a hundred youths, mighty of limb,
  "But knowing nor tumult nor hate nor strife,
  "And a hundred maidens, merry as birds,
  "Who when they dance to a fitful measure
  "Have a speed like the speed of the salmon herds,
  "Shall follow your horn and obey your whim,
  "And you shall know the Danaan leisure:
  "And Niam be with you for a wife."
  Then she sighed gently, "It grows late,
  "Music and love and sleep await,
  "Where I would be when the white moon climbs
  "The red sun falls, and the world grows dim."

  And then I mounted and she bound me
  With her triumphing arms around me,
  And whispering to herself enwound me;
  But when the horse had felt my weight,
  He shook himself and neighed three times:
  Caolte, Conan, and Finn came near,
  And wept, and raised their lamenting hands,
  And bid me stay, with many a tear;
  But we rode out from the human lands.

  In what far kingdom do you go,
  Ah, Fenians, with the shield and bow?
  Or are you phantoms white as snow,
  Whose lips had life's most prosperous glow?
  O you, with whom in sloping valleys,
  Or down the dewy forest alleys,
  I chased at morn the flying deer,
  With whom I hurled the hurrying spear,
  And heard the foemen's bucklers rattle,
  And broke the heaving ranks of battle!
  And Bran, Sgeolan, and Lomair,
  Where are you with your long rough hair?
  You go not where the red deer feeds,
  Nor tear the foemen from their steeds.

  S. PATRIC

  Boast not, nor mourn with drooping head
  Companions long accurst and dead,
  And hounds for centuries dust and air.

  USHEEN

  We galloped over the glossy sea:
  I know not if days passed or hours,
  And Niam sang continually
  Danaan songs, and their dewy showers
  Of pensive laughter, unhuman sound,
  Lulled weariness, and softly round
  My human sorrow her white arms wound.

  We galloped; now a hornless deer
  Passed by us, chased by a phantom hound
  All pearly white, save one red ear;
  And now a maiden rode like the wind
  With an apple of gold in her tossing hand;
  And a beautiful young man followed behind
  With quenchless gaze and fluttering hair.

  "Were these two born in the Danaan land,
  "Or have they breathed the mortal air?"

  "Vex them no longer," Niam said,
  And sighing bowed her gentle head,
  And sighing laid the pearly tip
  Of one long finger on my lip.

  But now the moon like a white rose shone
  In the pale west, and the sun's rim sank,
  And clouds arrayed their rank on rank
  About his fading crimson ball:
  The floor of Emen's hosting hall
  Was not more level than the sea,
  As full of loving phantasy,
  And with low murmurs we rode on,
  Where many a trumpet-twisted shell
  That in immortal silence sleeps
  Dreaming of her own melting hues,
  Her golds, her ambers, and her blues,
  Pierced with soft light the shallowing deeps.

  But now a wandering land breeze came
  And a far sound of feathery quires;
  It seemed to blow from the dying flame,
  They seemed to sing in the smouldering fires.
  The horse towards the music raced,
  Neighing along the lifeless waste;
  Like sooty fingers, many a tree
  Rose ever out of the warm sea;
  And they were trembling ceaselessly,
  As though they all were beating time,
  Upon the centre of the sun,
  To that low laughing woodland rhyme.
  And, now our wandering hours were done,
  We cantered to the shore, and knew
  The reason of the trembling trees:
  Round every branch the song-birds flew,
  Or clung thereon like swarming bees;
  While round the shore a million stood
  Like drops of frozen rainbow light,
  And pondered in a soft vain mood
  Upon their shadows in the tide,
  And told the purple deeps their pride,
  And murmured snatches of delight;
  And on the shores were many boats
  With bending sterns and bending bows.

  And carven figures on their prows
  Of bitterns, and fish-eating stoats,
  And swans with their exultant throats:
  And where the wood and waters meet
  We tied the horse in a leafy clump,
  And Niam blew three merry notes
  Out of a little silver trump;
  And then an answering whispering flew
  Over the bare and woody land,
  A whisper of impetuous feet,
  And ever nearer, nearer grew;
  And from the woods rushed out a band
  Of men and maidens, hand in hand,
  And singing, singing altogether;
  Their brows were white as fragrant milk,
  Their cloaks made out of yellow silk,
  And trimmed with many a crimson feather:
  And when they saw the cloak I wore
  Was dim with mire of a mortal shore,
  They fingered it and gazed on me
  And laughed like murmurs of the sea;
  But Niam with a swift distress
  Bid them away and hold their peace;
  And when they heard her voice they ran
  And knelt them, every maid and man
  And kissed, as they would never cease,
  Her pearl-pale hand and the hem of her dress.
  She bade them bring us to the hall
  Where Aengus dreams, from sun to sun,
  A Druid dream of the end of days
  When the stars are to wane and the world be done.

  They led us by long and shadowy ways
  Where drops of dew in myriads fall,
  And tangled creepers every hour
  Blossom in some new crimson flower,
  And once a sudden laughter sprang
  From all their lips, and once they sang
  Together, while the dark woods rang,
  And made in all their distant parts,
  With boom of bees in honey marts,
  A rumour of delighted hearts.
  And once a maiden by my side
  Gave me a harp, and bid me sing,
  And touch the laughing silver string;
  But when I sang of human joy
  A sorrow wrapped each merry face,
  And, Patric! by your beard, they wept,
  Until one came, a tearful boy;
  "A sadder creature never stept
  "Than this strange human bard," he cried;
  And caught the silver harp away,
  And, weeping over the white strings, hurled
  It down in a leaf-hid, hollow place
  That kept dim waters from the sky;
  And each one said, with a long, long sigh,
  "O saddest harp in all the world,
  "Sleep there till the moon and the stars die!"

  And now still sad we came to where
  A beautiful young man dreamed within
  A house of wattles, clay, and skin;
  One hand upheld his beardless chin,
  And one a sceptre flashing out
  Wild flames of red and gold and blue,
  Like to a merry wandering rout
  Of dancers leaping in the air;
  And men and maidens knelt them there
  And showed their eyes with teardrops dim,
  And with low murmurs prayed to him,
  And kissed the sceptre with red lips,
  And touched it with their finger-tips.

  He held that flashing sceptre up.
  "Joy drowns the twilight in the dew,
  "And fills with stars night's purple cup,
  "And wakes the sluggard seeds of corn,
  "And stirs the young kid's budding horn.
  "And makes the infant ferns unwrap,
  "And for the peewit paints his cap,
  "And rolls along the unwieldy sun,
  "And makes the little planets run:
  "And if joy were not on the earth,
  "There were an end of change and birth,
  "And earth and heaven and hell would die,
  "And in some gloomy barrow lie
  "Folded like a frozen fly;
  "Then mock at Death and Time with glances
  "And wavering arms and wandering dances.

  "Men's hearts of old were drops of flame
  "That from the saffron morning came,
  "Or drops of silver joy that fell
  "Out of the moon's pale twisted shell;
  "But now hearts cry that hearts are slaves,
  "And toss and turn in narrow caves;
  "But here there is nor law nor rule,
  "Nor have hands held a weary tool;
  "And here there is nor Change nor Death,
  "But only kind and merry breath,
  "For joy is God and God is joy."
  With one long glance on maid and boy
  And the pale blossom of the moon,
  He fell into a Druid swoon.

  And in a wild and sudden dance
  We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance
  And swept out of the wattled hall
  And came to where the dewdrops fall
  Among the foamdrops of the sea,
  And there we hushed the revelry;
  And, gathering on our brows a frown,
  Bent all our swaying bodies down,
  And to the waves that glimmer by
  That sloping green De Danaan sod
  Sang "God is joy and joy is God.
  "And things that have grown sad are wicked,
  "And things that fear the dawn of the morrow
  "Or the gray wandering osprey Sorrow."

  We danced to where in the winding thicket
  The damask roses, bloom on bloom,
  Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom,
  And bending over them softly said,
  Bending over them in the dance,
  With a swift and friendly glance
  From dewy eyes: "Upon the dead
  "Fall the leaves of other roses,
  "On the dead dim earth encloses:
  "But never, never on our graves,
  "Heaped beside the glimmering waves,
  "Shall fall the leaves of damask roses.
  "For neither Death nor Change comes near us,
  "And all listless hours fear us,
  "And we fear no dawning morrow,
  "Nor the gray wandering osprey Sorrow."

  The dance wound through the windless woods;
  The ever-summered solitudes;
  Until the tossing arms grew still
  Upon the woody central hill;
  And, gathered in a panting band,
  We flung on high each waving hand,
  And sang unto the starry broods:
  In our raised eyes there flashed a glow
  Of milky brightness to and fro
  As thus our song arose: "You stars,
  "Across your wandering ruby cars
  "Shake the loose reins: you slaves of God
  "He rules you with an iron rod,
  "He holds you with an iron bond,
  "Each one woven to the other,
  "Each one woven to his brother
  "Like bubbles in a frozen pond;
  "But we in a lonely land abide
  "Unchainable as the dim tide,
  "With hearts that know nor law nor rule,
  "And hands that hold no wearisome tool
  "Folded in love that fears no morrow,
  "Nor the gray wandering osprey Sorrow."

  O Patric! for a hundred years
  I chased upon that woody shore
  The deer, the badger, and the boar.
  O Patric! for a hundred years
  At evening on the glimmering sands,
  Beside the piled-up hunting spears,
  These now outworn and withered hands
  Wrestled among the island bands.
  O Patric! for a hundred years
  We went a-fishing in long boats
  With bending sterns and bending bows,
  And carven figures on their prows
  Of bitterns and fish-eating stoats.
  O Patric! for a hundred years
  The gentle Niam was my wife;
  But now two things devour my life;
  The things that most of all I hate;
  Fasting and prayers.

  S. PATRIC

                      Tell on.

  USHEEN

                                Yes, yes,
  For these were ancient Usheen's fate
  Loosed long ago from heaven's gate,
  For his last days to lie in wait.

  When one day by the tide I stood,
  I found in that forgetfulness
  Of dreamy foam a staff of wood
  From some dead warrior's broken lance:
  I turned it in my hands; the stains
  Of war were on it, and I wept,
  Remembering how the Fenians stept
  Along the blood-bedabbled plains,
  Equal to good or grievous chance:
  Thereon young Niam softly came
  And caught my hands, but spake no word
  Save only many times my name,
  In murmurs, like a frighted bird.
  We passed by woods, and lawns of clover,
  And found the horse and bridled him,
  For we knew well the old was over.
  I heard one say "His eyes grow dim
  "With all the ancient sorrow of men";
  And wrapped in dreams rode out again
  With hoofs of the pale findrinny
  Over the glimmering purple sea:
  Under the golden evening light.
  The immortals moved among the fountains
  By rivers and the woods' old night;
  Some danced like shadows on the mountains,
  Some wandered ever hand in hand,
  Or sat in dreams on the pale strand;
  Each forehead like an obscure star
  Bent down above each hooked knee:
  And sang, and with a dreamy gaze
  Watched where the sun in a saffron blaze
  Was slumbering half in the sea ways;
  And, as they sang, the painted birds
  Kept time with their bright wings and feet;
  Like drops of honey came their words,
  But fainter than a young lamb's bleat.

  "An old man stirs the fire to a blaze,
  "In the house of a child, of a friend, of a brother
  "He has over-lingered his welcome; the days,
  "Grown desolate, whisper and sigh to each other;
  "He hears the storm in the chimney above,
  "And bends to the fire and shakes with the cold,
  "While his heart still dreams of battle and love,
  "And the cry of the hounds on the hills of old.

  "But we are apart in the grassy places,
  "Where care cannot trouble the least of our days,
  "Or the softness of youth be gone from our faces,
  "Or love's first tenderness die in our gaze.
  "The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
  "And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
  "Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
  "She limps along in an aged whiteness;
  "A storm of birds in the Asian trees
  "Like tulips in the air a-winging,
  "And the gentle waves of the summer seas,
  "That raise their heads and wander singing.
  "Must murmur at last 'Unjust, unjust';
  "And 'My speed is a weariness,' falters the mouse
  "And the kingfisher turns to a ball of dust,
  "And the roof falls in of his tunnelled house.

  "But the love-dew dims our eyes till the day
  "When God shall come from the sea with a sigh
  "And bid the stars drop down from the sky,
  "And the moon like a pale rose wither away."


BOOK II


  Now, man of croziers, shadows called our names
  And then away, away, like whirling flames;
  And now fled by, mist-covered, without sound,
  The youth and lady and the deer and hound;
  "Gaze no more on the phantoms," Niam said,
  And kissed my eyes, and, swaying her bright head
  And her bright body, sang of faery and man
  Before God was or my old line began;
  Wars shadowy, vast, exultant; faeries of old
  Who wedded men with rings of Druid gold;
  And how those lovers never turn their eyes
  Upon the life that fades and flickers and dies,
  But love and kiss on dim shores far away
  Rolled round with music of the sighing spray:
  But sang no more, as when, like a brown bee
  That has drunk full, she crossed the misty sea
  With me in her white arms a hundred years
  Before this day; for now the fall of tears
  Troubled her song.

                        I do not know if days
  Or hours passed by, yet hold the morning rays
  Shone many times among the glimmering flowers
  Woven into her hair, before dark towers
  Rose in the darkness, and the white surf gleamed
  About them; and the horse of faery screamed
  And shivered, knowing the Isle of many Fears,
  Nor ceased until white Niam stroked his ears
  And named him by sweet names.

                               A foaming tide
  Whitened afar with surge, fan-formed and wide,
  Burst from a great door marred by many a blow
  From mace and sword and pole-axe, long ago
  When gods and giants warred. We rode between
  The seaweed-covered pillars, and the green
  And surging phosphorus alone gave light
  On our dark pathway, till a countless flight
  Of moonlit steps glimmered; and left and right
  Dark statues glimmered over the pale tide
  Upon dark thrones. Between the lids of one
  The imaged meteors had flashed and run
  And had disported in the stilly jet,
  And the fixed stars had dawned and shone and set,
  Since God made Time and Death and Sleep: the other
  Stretched his long arm to where, a misty smother,
  The stream churned, churned, and churned--his lips apart,
  As though he told his never slumbering heart
  Of every foamdrop on its misty way:
  Tying the horse to his vast foot that lay
  Half in the unvesselled sea, we climbed the stairs
  And climbed so long, I thought the last steps were
  Hung from the morning star; when these mild words
  Fanned the delighted air like wings of birds:
  "My brothers spring out of their beds at morn,
  "A-murmur like young partridge: with loud horn
  "They chase the noontide deer;
  "And when the dew-drowned stars hang in the air
  "Look to long fishing-lines, or point and pare
  "An ash-wood hunting spear.

  "O sigh, O fluttering sigh, be kind to me;
  "Flutter along the froth lips of the sea,
  "And shores, the froth lips wet:
  "And stay a little while, and bid them weep:
  "Ah, touch their blue-veined eyelids if they sleep,
  "And shake their coverlet.

  "When you have told how I weep endlessly,
  "Flutter along the froth lips of the sea
  "And home to me again,
  "And in the shadow of my hair lie hid,
  "And tell me how you came to one unbid,
  "The saddest of all men."

  A maiden with soft eyes like funeral tapers,
  And face that seemed wrought out of moonlit vapours,
  And a sad mouth, that fear made tremulous
  As any ruddy moth, looked down on us;
  And she with a wave-rusted chain was tied
  To two old eagles, full of ancient pride,
  That with dim eyeballs stood on either side.
  Few feathers were on their dishevelled wings,
  For their dim minds were with the ancient things.

  "I bring deliverance," pearl-pale Niam said.

  "Neither the living, nor the unlabouring dead,
  "Nor the high gods who never lived, may fight
  "My enemy and hope; demons for fright
  "Jabber and scream about him in the night;
  "For he is strong and crafty as the seas
  "That sprang under the Seven Hazel Trees,
  "And I must needs endure and hate and weep,
  "Until the gods and demons drop asleep,
  "Hearing Aed touch the mournful strings of gold."

  "Is he so dreadful?"

                      "Be not over bold,
  "But flee while you may flee from him."

                                         Then I:
  "This demon shall be pierced and drop and die,
  "And his loose bulk be thrown in the loud tide."

  "Flee from him," pearl-pale Niam weeping cried,
  "For all men flee the demons"; but moved not
  My angry, king remembering soul one jot;
  There was no mightier soul of Heber's line;
  Now it is old and mouse-like: for a sign
  I burst the chain: still earless, nerveless, blind,
  Wrapped in the things of the unhuman mind,
  In some dim memory or ancient mood
  Still earless, nerveless, blind, the eagles stood.

  And then we climbed the stair to a high door;
  A hundred horsemen on the basalt floor
  Beneath had paced content: we held our way
  And stood within: clothed in a misty ray
  I saw a foam-white seagull drift and float
  Under the roof, and with a straining throat
  Shouted, and hailed him: he hung there a star,
  For no man's cry shall ever mount so far;
  Not even your God could have thrown down that hall;
  Stabling His unloosed lightnings in their stall,
  He had sat down and sighed with cumbered heart,
  As though His hour were come.

                                We sought the part
  That was most distant from the door; green slime
  Made the way slippery, and time on time
  Showed prints of sea-born scales, while down through it
  The captive's journeys to and fro were writ
  Like a small river, and, where feet touched, came
  A momentary gleam of phosphorus flame.
  Under the deepest shadows of the hall
  That maiden found a ring hung on the wall,
  And in the ring a torch, and with its flare
  Making a world about her in the air,
  Passed under a dim doorway, out of sight
  And came again, holding a second light
  Burning between her fingers, and in mine
  Laid it and sighed: I held a sword whose shine
  No centuries could dim: and a word ran
  Thereon in Ogham letters, "Mananan";
  That sea god's name, who in a deep content
  Sprang dripping, and, with captive demons sent
  Out of the seven-fold seas, built the dark hall
  Rooted in foam and clouds, and cried to all
  The mightier masters of a mightier race;
  And at his cry there came no milk-pale face
  Under a crown of thorns and dark with blood,
  But only exultant faces.

                          Niam stood
  With bowed head, trembling when the white blade shone,
  But she whose hours of tenderness were gone
  Had neither hope nor fear. I bade them hide
  Under the shadows till the tumults died
  Of the loud crashing and earth shaking fight,
  Lest they should look upon some dreadful sight;
  And thrust the torch between the slimy flags.
  A dome made out of endless carven jags,
  Where shadowy face flowed into shadowy face,
  Looked down on me; and in the self-same place
  I waited hour by hour, and the high dome,
  Windowless, pillarless, multitudinous home
  Of faces, waited; and the leisured gaze
  Was loaded with the memory of days
  Buried and mighty. When through the great door
  The dawn came in, and glimmered on the floor
  With a pale light, I journeyed round the hall
  And found a door deep sunken in the wall,
  The least of doors; beyond on a dim plain
  A little runnel made a bubbling strain,
  And on the runnel's stony and bare edge
  A husky demon dry as a withered sedge
  Swayed, crooning to himself an unknown tongue:
  In a sad revelry he sang and swung
  Bacchant and mournful, passing to and fro
  His hand along the runnel's side, as though
  The flowers still grew there: far on the sea's waste
  Shaking and waving, vapour vapour chased,
  While high frail cloudlets, fed with a green light,
  Like drifts of leaves, immovable and bright,
  Hung in the passionate dawn. He slowly turned:
  A demon's leisure: eyes, first white, now burned
  Like wings of kingfishers; and he arose
  Barking. We trampled up and down with blows
  Of sword and brazen battle-axe, while day
  Gave to high noon and noon to night gave way;
  And when at withering of the sun he knew
  The Druid sword of Mananan, he grew
  To many shapes; I lunged at the smooth throat
  Of a great eel; it changed, and I but smote
  A fir-tree roaring in its leafless top;
  I held a dripping corpse, with livid chop
  And sunken shape, against my face and breast,
  When I tore down the tree; but when the west
  Surged up in plumy fire, I lunged and drave
  Through heart and spine, and cast him in the wave,
  Lest Niam shudder.

                      Full of hope and dread
  Those two came carrying wine and meat and bread,
  And healed my wounds with unguents out of flowers
  That feed white moths by some De Danaan shrine;
  Then in that hall, lit by the dim sea shine,
  We lay on skins of otters, and drank wine,
  Brewed by the sea-gods, from huge cups that lay
  Upon the lips of sea-gods in their day;
  And then on heaped-up skins of otters slept.
  But when the sun once more in saffron stept,
  Rolling his flagrant wheel out of the deep,
  We sang the loves and angers without sleep,
  And all the exultant labours of the strong:

  But now the lying clerics murder song
  With barren words and flatteries of the weak.
  In what land do the powerless turn the beak
  Of ravening Sorrow, or the hand of Wrath?
  For all your croziers, they have left the path
  And wander in the storms and clinging snows,
  Hopeless for ever: ancient Usheen knows,
  For he is weak and poor and blind, and lies
  On the anvil of the world.

  S. PATRIC

                            Be still: the skies
  Are choked with thunder, lightning, and fierce wind,
  For God has heard, and speaks His angry mind;
  Go cast your body on the stones and pray,
  For He has wrought midnight and dawn and day.

  USHEEN

  Saint, do you weep? I hear amid the thunder
  The Fenian horses; armour torn asunder;
  Laughter and cries; the armies clash and shock;
  All is done now; I see the ravens flock;
  Ah, cease, you mournful, laughing Fenian horn!

  We feasted for three days. On the fourth morn
  I found, dropping sea foam on the wide stair,
  And hung with slime, and whispering in his hair,
  That demon dull and unsubduable;
  And once more to a day-long battle fell,
  And at the sundown threw him in the surge,
  To lie until the fourth morn saw emerge
  His new healed shape: and for a hundred years
  So warred, so feasted, with nor dreams nor fears,
  Nor languor nor fatigue: and endless feast,
  An endless war.

                  The hundred years had ceased;
  I stood upon the stair: the surges bore
  A beech bough to me, and my heart grew sore,
  Remembering how I had stood by white-haired Finn
  Under a beech at Emen and heard the thin
  Outcry of bats.

                  And then young Niam came
  Holding that horse, and sadly called my name;
  I mounted, and we passed over the lone
  And drifting grayness, while this monotone,
  Surly and distant, mixed inseparably
  Into the clangour of the wind and sea.

  "I hear my soul drop down into decay,
  "And Mananan's dark tower, stone by stone,
  "Gather sea slime and fall the seaward way,
  "And the moon goad the waters night and day,
  "That all be overthrown.

  "But till the moon has taken all, I wage
  "War on the mightiest men under the skies,
  "And they have fallen or fled, age after age:
  "Light is man's love, and lighter is man's rage;
  "His purpose drifts and dies."

  And then lost Niam murmured, "Love, we go
  "To the Island of Forgetfulness, for lo!
  "The Islands of Dancing and of Victories
  "Are empty of all power."

                          "And which of these
  "Is the Island of Content?"

                            "None know," she said;
  And on my bosom laid her weeping head.


BOOK III


  Fled foam underneath us, and around us, a wandering and milky smoke,
  High as the saddle girth, covering away from our glances the tide;
  And those that fled, and that followed, from the
    foam-pale distance broke;
  The immortal desire of immortals we saw in their faces, and sighed.

  I mused on the chase with the Fenians, and Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair,
  And never a song sang Niam, and over my finger-tips
  Came now the sliding of tears and sweeping of mist-cold hair,
  And now the warmth of sighs, and after the quiver of lips.

  Were we days long or hours long in riding, when rolled in a grisly peace,
  An isle lay level before us, with dripping hazel and oak?
  And we stood on a sea's edge we saw not; for whiter
    than new-washed fleece
  Fled foam underneath us, and round us, a wandering and milky smoke.

  And we rode on the plains of the sea's edge; the sea's edge
    barren and gray,
  Gray sand on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
  Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away
  Like an army of old men longing for rest from the moan of the seas.

  But the trees grew taller and closer, immense in their wrinkling bark;
  Dropping; a murmurous dropping; old silence and that one sound;
  For no live creatures lived there, no weasels moved in the dark:
  Long sighs arose in our spirits, beneath us bubbled the ground.

  And the ears of the horse went sinking away in the hollow night,
  For, as drift from a sailor slow drowning the gleams
    of the world and the sun,
  Ceased on our hands and our faces, on hazel and oak leaf, the light,
  And the stars were blotted above us, and the whole of the world was one.

  Till the horse gave a whinny; for, cumbrous with stems
    of the hazel and oak,
  A valley flowed down from his hoofs, and there in the long grass lay,
  Under the starlight and shadow, a monstrous slumbering folk,
  Their naked and gleaming bodies poured out and heaped in the way.

  And by them were arrow and war-axe, arrow and shield and blade;
  And dew-blanched horns, in whose hollow a child of three years old
  Could sleep on a couch of rushes, and all inwrought and inlaid,
  And more comely than man can make them with bronze and silver and gold.

  And each of the huge white creatures was huger than fourscore men;
  The tops of their ears were feathered, their hands were
    the claws of birds,
  And, shaking the plumes of the grasses and the leaves of the mural glen,
  The breathing came from those bodies, long-warless,
    grown whiter than curds.

  The wood was so spacious above them, that He who had stars for His flocks
  Could fondle the leaves with His fingers, nor go from
    His dew-cumbered skies;
  So long were they sleeping, the owls had builded their nests
    in their locks,
  Filling the fibrous dimness with long generations of eyes.

  And over the limbs and the valley the slow owls wandered and came,
  Now in a place of star-fire, and now in a shadow place wide;
  And the chief of the huge white creatures, his knees
    in the soft star-flame,
  Lay loose in a place of shadow: we drew the reins by his side.

  Golden the nails of his bird-claws, flung loosely along the dim ground;
  In one was a branch soft-shining, with bells more many than sighs,
  In midst of an old man's bosom; owls ruffling and pacing around,
  Sidled their bodies against him, filling the shade with their eyes.

  And my gaze was thronged with the sleepers; no,
    not since the world began,
  In realms where the handsome were many, nor in glamours by demons flung,
  Have faces alive with such beauty been known to the salt eye of man,
  Yet weary with passions that faded when the seven-fold seas were young.

  And I gazed on the bell-branch, sleep's forebear,
    far sung by the Sennachies.
  I saw how those slumberers, grown weary, there camping in grasses deep,
  Of wars with the wide world and pacing the shores of the wandering seas,
  Laid hands on the bell-branch and swayed it, and fed of unhuman sleep.

  Snatching the horn of Niam, I blew a lingering note;
  Came sound from those monstrous sleepers, a sound like
    the stirring of flies.
  He, shaking the fold of his lips, and heaving the pillar of his throat,
  Watched me with mournful wonder out of the wells of his eyes.

  I cried, "Come out of the shadow, king of the nails of gold!
  "And tell of your goodly household and the goodly works of your hands,
  "That we may muse in the starlight and talk of the battles of old;
  "Your questioner, Usheen, is worthy, he comes from the Fenian lands."

  Half open his eyes were, and held me, dull with
    the smoke of their dreams;
  His lips moved slowly in answer, no answer out of them came;
  Then he swayed in his fingers the bell-branch, slow dropping
    a sound in faint streams
  Softer than snow-flakes in April and piercing the marrow like flame.

  Wrapt in the wave of that music, with weariness more than of earth,
  The moil of my centuries filled me; and gone like a sea-covered stone
  Were the memories of the whole of my sorrow and the memories
    of the whole of my mirth,
  And a softness came from the starlight and filled me full to the bone.

  In the roots of the grasses, the sorrels, I laid my body as low;
  And the pearl-pale Niam lay by me, her brow on the midst of my breast;
  And the horse was gone in the distance, and years after years 'gan flow;
  Square leaves of the ivy moved over us, binding us down to our rest.

  And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot;
  How the fetlocks drip blood in the battle, when
    the fallen on fallen lie rolled;
  How the falconer follows the falcon in the weeds of the heron's plot,
  And the names of the demons whose hammers made armour for Conhor of old.

  And, man of the many white croziers, a century there I forgot;
  That the spear-shaft is made out of ashwood, the shield
    out of ozier and hide;
  How the hammers spring on the anvil, on the spearhead's burning spot;
  How the slow, blue-eyed oxen of Finn low sadly at evening tide.

  But in dreams, mild man of the croziers, driving the dust
    with their throngs,
  Moved round me, of seamen or landsmen, all who are winter tales;
  Came by me the kings of the Red Branch, with roaring
    of laughter and songs,
  Or moved as they moved once, love-making or piercing
    the tempest with sails.

  Came Blanid, Mac Nessa, tall Fergus who feastward of old time slunk,
  Cook Barach, the traitor; and warward, the spittle
    on his beard never dry,
  Dark Balor, as old as a forest, car borne, his mighty head sunk
  Helpless, men lifting the lids of his weary and death-making eye.

  And by me, in soft red raiment, the Fenians moved in loud streams,
  And Grania, walking and smiling, sewed with her needle of bone,
  So lived I and lived not, so wrought I and wrought not,
    with creatures of dreams,
  In a long iron sleep, as a fish in the water goes dumb as a stone.

  At times our slumber was lightened. When the sun was on silver or gold;
  When brushed with the wings of the owls, in the dimness
    they love going by;
  When a glow-worm was green on a grass leaf, lured from
    his lair in the mould;
  Half wakening, we lifted our eyelids, and gazed on the grass with a sigh.

  So watched I when, man of the croziers, at the heel of a century fell,
  Weak, in the midst of the meadow, from his miles in the midst of the air,
  A starling like them that forgathered 'neath a moon waking
    white as a shell.
  When the Fenians made foray at morning with Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair.

  I awoke: the strange horse without summons out of the distance ran,
  Thrusting his nose to my shoulder; he knew in his bosom deep
  That once more moved in my bosom the ancient sadness of man,
  And that I would leave the immortals, their dimness,
    their dews dropping sleep.

  O, had you seen beautiful Niam grow white as the waters are white,
  Lord of the croziers, you even had lifted your hands and wept:
  But, the bird in my fingers, I mounted, remembering alone that delight
  Of twilight and slumber were gone, and that hoofs impatiently stept.

  I cried, "O Niam! O white one! if only a twelve-houred day,
  "I must gaze on the beard of Finn, and move where the old men and young
  "In the Fenians' dwellings of wattle lean on the chessboards and play,
  "Ah, sweet to me now were even bald Conan's slanderous tongue!

  "Like me were some galley forsaken far off in Meridian isle.
  "Remembering its long-oared companions, sails turning
    to thread-bare rags;
  "No more to crawl on the seas with long oars mile after mile,
  "But to be amid shooting of flies and flowering of rushes and flags."

  Their motionless eyeballs of spirits grown mild with mysterious thought
  Watched her those seamless faces from the valley's glimmering girth;
  As she murmured, "O wandering Usheen, the strength of the
    bell-branch is naught,
  "For there moves alive in your fingers the fluttering sadness of earth.

  "Then go through the lands in the saddle and see what the mortals do,
  "And softly come to your Niam over the tops of the tide;
  "But weep for your Niam, O Usheen, weep; for if only your shoe
  "Brush lightly as haymouse earth's pebbles, you will come
    no more to my side.

  "O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?"
  "I saw from a distant saddle; from the earth she made her moan;
  "I would die like a small withered leaf in the autumn,
    for breast unto breast
  "We shall mingle no more, nor our gazes empty their sweetness lone.

  "In the isles of the farthest seas where only the spirits come.
  "Were the winds less soft than the breath of a pigeon
    who sleeps on her nest,
  "Nor lost in the star-fires and odours the sound of the sea's vague drum?
  "O flaming lion of the world, O when will you turn to your rest?"

  The wailing grew distant; I rode by the woods of the wrinkling bark,
  Where ever is murmurous dropping, old silence and that one sound;
  For no live creatures live there, no weasels move in the dark;
  In a reverie forgetful of all things, over the bubbling ground.

  And I rode by the plains of the sea's edge, where all is barren and gray,
  Gray sands on the green of the grasses and over the dripping trees,
  Dripping and doubling landward, as though they would hasten away,
  Like an army of old men lounging for rest from the moan of the seas.

  And the winds made the sands on the sea's edge turning and turning go,
  As my mind made the names of the Fenians. Far from the hazel and oak,
  I rode away on the surges, where, high as the saddle bow,
  Fled foam underneath me, and round me, a wandering and milky smoke.

  Long fled the foam-flakes around me, the winds fled out of the vast,
  Snatching the bird in secret; nor knew I, embosomed apart,
  When they froze the cloth on my body like armour riveted fast,
  For Remembrance, lifting her leanness, keened in the gates of my heart.

  Till fattening the winds of the morning, an odour of new-mown hay
  Came, and my forehead fell low, and my tears like berries fell down;
  Later a sound came, half lost in the sound of a shore far away,
  From the great grass-barnacle calling, and later the shore-weeds brown.

  If I were as I once was, the strong hoofs crushing
    the sand and the shells,
  Coming out of the sea as the dawn comes, a chaunt of love on my lips,
  Not coughing, my head on my knees, and praying, and wroth with the bells,
  I would leave no saint's head on his body from Rachlin to Bera of ships.

  Making way from the kindling surges, I rode on a bridle-path
  Much wondering to see upon all hands, of wattles and woodwork made,
  Your bell-mounted churches, and guardless the sacred cairn and the rath,
  And a small and a feeble populace stooping with mattock and spade.

  Or weeding or ploughing with faces a-shining with much-toil wet;
  While in this place and that place, with bodies unglorious,
    their chieftains stood,
  Awaiting in patience the straw-death, croziered one, caught in your net:
  Went the laughter of scorn from my mouth like the roaring
    of wind in a wood.

  And because I went by them so huge and so speedy with eyes so bright,
  Came after the hard gaze of youth, or an old man lifted his head:
  And I rode and I rode, and I cried out, "The Fenians hunt
    wolves in the night,
  So sleep thee by daytime." A voice cried, "The Fenians
    a long time are dead."

  A whitebeard stood hushed on the pathway, the flesh
    of his face as dried grass,
  And in folds round his eyes and his mouth, he sad
    as a child without milk;
  And the dreams of the islands were gone, and I knew how
    men sorrow and pass,
  And their hound, and their horse, and their love, and their eyes
    that glimmer like silk.

  And wrapping my face in my hair, I murmured, "In old age they ceased";
  And my tears were larger than berries, and I murmured,
    "Where white clouds lie spread
  "On Crevroe or broad Knockfefin, with many of old they feast
  "On the floors of the gods." He cried, "No, the gods
    a long time are dead."

  And lonely and longing for Niam, I shivered and turned me about,
  The heart in me longing to leap like a grasshopper into her heart;
  I turned and rode to the westward, and followed the sea's old shout
  Till I saw where Maive lies sleeping till starlight and midnight part.

  And there at the foot of the mountain, two carried a sack full of sand,
  They bore it with staggering and sweating, but fell
    with their burden at length:
  Leaning down from the gem-studded saddle, I flung it
    five yards with my hand,
  With a sob for men waxing so weakly, a sob for the Fenian's old strength.

  The rest you have heard of, O croziered one; how, when divided the girth,
  I fell on the path, and the horse went away like a summer fly;
  And my years three hundred fell on me, and I rose,
    and walked on the earth,
  A creeping old man, full of sleep, with the spittle
    on his beard never dry.

  How the men of the sand-sack showed me a church with its belfry in air;
  Sorry place, where for swing of the war-axe in my dim eyes
    the crozier gleams;
  What place have Caolte and Conan, and Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair?
  Speak, you too are old with your memories, an old man surrounded
    with dreams.

  S. PATRIC

  Where the flesh of the footsole clingeth on the burning stones
    is their place;
  Where the demons whip them with wires on the burning stones of wide hell,
  Watching the blessed ones move far off, and the smile on God's face,
  Between them a gateway of brass, and the howl of the angels who fell.

  USHEEN

  Put the staff in my hands; for I go to the Fenians, O cleric, to chaunt
  The war-songs that roused them of old; they will rise, making clouds
    with their breath
  Innumerable, singing, exultant; the clay underneath them shall pant,
  And demons be broken in pieces, and trampled beneath them in death.

  And demons afraid in their darkness; deep horror of eyes and of wings,
  Afraid their ears on the earth laid, shall listen and rise up and weep;
  Hearing the shaking of shields and the quiver of stretched bowstrings,
  Hearing hell loud with a murmur, as shouting and mocking we sweep.

  We will tear out the flaming stones, and batter the gateway of brass
  And enter, and none sayeth "No" when there enters the strongly
   armed guest;
  Make clean as a broom cleans, and march on as oxen move over young grass;
  Then feast, making converse of wars, and of old wounds,
    and turn to our rest.

  S. PATRIC

  On the flaming stones, without refuge, the limbs of the Fenians are tost;
  None war on the masters of Hell, who could break up the world
    in their rage;
  But kneel and wear out the flags and pray for your soul that is lost
  Through the demon love of its youth and its godless and passionate age.

  USHEEN

  Ah, me! to be shaken with coughing and broken with old age and pain,
  Without laughter, a show unto children, alone with remembrance and fear;
  All emptied of purple hours as a beggar's cloak in the rain,
  As a hay-cock out on the flood, or a wolf sucked under a weir.

  It were sad to gaze on the blessed and no man I loved of old there;
  I throw down the chain of small stones! when life in my body has ceased,
  I will go to Caolte, and Conan, and Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair,
  And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in flames or at feast.



GLOSSARY AND NOTES


_The Pronunciation of the Irish Words._--When I wrote the greater number
of these poems I had hardly considered the question seriously. I copied
at times somebody's perhaps fanciful phonetic spelling, and at times the
ancient spelling as I found it in some literal translation, pronouncing
the words always as they were spelt. I do not suppose I would have
defended this system at any time, but I do not yet know what system to
adopt. The modern pronunciation, which is usually followed by those who
spell the words phonetically, is certainly unlike the pronunciation of
the time when classical Irish literature was written, and, so far as I
know, no Irish scholar who writes in English or French has made that
minute examination of the way the names come into the rhythms and
measures of the old poems which can alone discover the old
pronunciation. A French Celtic scholar gave me the pronunciation of a
few names, and told me that Mr. Whitley Stokes had written something
about the subject in German, but I am ignorant of German. If I ever
learn the old pronunciation, I will revise all these poems, but at
present I can only affirm that I have not treated my Irish names as
badly as the mediæval writers of the stories of King Arthur treated
their Welsh names.

_Mythological Gods and Heroes._--I refer the reader for such names as
Balor and Finn and Usheen to Lady Gregory's "Cuchulain of Muirthemne"
and to her "Gods and Fighting Men."

_The Ballad of Father Gilligan._--A tradition among the people of
Castleisland, Kerry.

_The Ballad of Father O'Hart._--This ballad is founded on the story of a
certain Father O'Hart, priest of Coloony, Sligo, in the last century, as
told by the present priest of Coloony in his _History of Ballisodare and
Kilvarnet_. The robbery of the lands of Father O'Hart was a kind of
robbery which occurred but rarely during the penal laws. Catholics,
forbidden to own landed property, evaded the law by giving a Protestant
nominal possession of their estates. There are instances on record in
which poor men were nominal owners of immense estates.

_The Ballad of the Foxhunter._--Founded on an incident, probably itself
a Tipperary tradition, in Kickham's _Knockagow_.

_Bell-branch._--A legendary branch whose shaking casts all men into a
sleep.

_The Countess Cathleen._--I found the story of the Countess Cathleen in
what professed to be a collection of Irish folk-lore in an Irish
newspaper some years ago. I wrote to the compiler, asking about its
source, but got no answer, but have since heard that it was translated
from _Les Matinées de Timothè Trimm_ a good many years ago, and has been
drifting about the Irish press ever since. Léo Lespès gives it as an
Irish story, and though the editor of _Folklore_ has kindly advertised
for information, the only Christian variant I know of is a Donegal tale,
given by Mr. Larminie in his _West Irish Folk Tales and Romances_, of a
woman who goes to hell for ten years to save her husband, and stays
there another ten, having been granted permission to carry away as many
souls as could cling to her skirt. Léo Lespès may have added a few
details, but I have no doubt of the essential antiquity of what seems to
me the most impressive form of one of the supreme parables of the world.
The parable came to the Greeks in the sacrifice of Alcestis, but her
sacrifice was less overwhelming, less apparently irremediable. Léo
Lespès tells the story as follows:--

     Ce que je vais vous dire est un récit du carême Irlandais. Le
     boiteux, l'aveugle, le paralytique des rues de Dublin ou de
     Limerick, vous le diraient mieux que moi, cher lecteur, si vous
     alliez le leur demander, un sixpense d'argent à la main.--Il n'est
     pas une jeune fille catholique à laquelle on ne l'ait appris
     pendant les jours de préparation à la communion sainte, pas un
     berger des bords de la Blackwater qui ne le puisse redire à la
     veillée.

     Il y a bien longtemps qu'il apparut tout-à-coup dans la vielle
     Irlande deux marchands inconnus dont personne n'avait ouï parler,
     et qui parlaient néanmoins avec la plus grande perfection la langue
     du pays. Leurs cheveux étaient noirs et ferrés avec de l'or et
     leurs robes d'une grande magnificence.

     Tous deux semblaient avoir le même âge; ils paraissaient être des
     hommes de cinquante ans, car leur barbe grisonnait un peu.

     Or, à cette époque, comme aujourd'hui, l'Irlande était pauvre, car
     le soleil avait été rare, et des récoltes presque nulles. Les
     indigents ne savaient à quel sainte se vouer, et la misère devenait
     de plus en plus terrible.

     Dans l'hôtellerie où descendirent les marchands fastueux on chercha
     à pénétrer leurs desseins: mais ce fut en vain, ils demeurèrent
     silencieux et discrets.

     Et pendant qu'ils demeurèrent dans l'hôtellerie, ils ne cessèrent
     de compter et de recompter des sacs de pièces d'or, dont la vive
     clarté s'apercevait à travers les vitres du logis.

     Gentlemen, leur dit l'hôtesse un jour, d'où vient que vous êtes si
     opulents, et que, venus pour secourir la misère publique, vous ne
     fassiez pas de bonnes oeuvres?

     --Belle hôtesse, répondit l'un d'eux, nous n'avons pas voulu aller
     au-devant d'infortunes honorables, dans la crainte d'être trompés
     par des misères fictives: que la douleur frappe à la porte, nous
     ouvrirons.

     Le lendemain, quand on sut qu'il existait deux opulents étrangers
     prêts à prodiguer l'or, la foule assiégea leur logis; mais les
     figures des gens qui en sortaient étaient bien diverses. Les uns
     avaient la fierté dans le regard, les autres portaient la honte au
     front. Les deux trafiquants achetaient des âmes pour le démon.
     L'âme d'un vieillard valait vingt pièces d'or, pas un penny de
     plus; car Satan avait eu le temps d'y former hypothèque. L'âme
     d'une épose en valait cinquante quand elle était jolie, ou cent
     quand elle était laide. L'âme d'une jeune fille se payait des prix
     fous: les fleurs les plus belles et les plus pures sont les plus
     chères.

     Pendant ce temps, il existait dans la ville un ange de beauté, la
     comtesse Ketty O'Connor. Elle était l'idole du peuple, et la
     providence des indigents. Dès qu'elle eut appris que des mécréants
     profitaient de la misère publique pour dérober des coeurs à Dieu,
     elle fit appeler son majordome.

     --Master Patrick, lui dit elle, combien ai-je de pièces d'or dans
     mon coffre?

     --Cent mille.

     --Combien de bijoux?

     --Peur autant d'argent.

     --Combien de châteux, de bois et de terres?

     --Pour le double de ces sommes.

     --Eh bien! Patrick, vendez tout ce qui n'est pas or et
     apportez-m'en le montant. Je ne veux garder à moi que ce castel et
     le champ qui l'entoure.

     Deux jours après, les ordres de la pieuse Ketty étaient exécutés et
     le trésor était distribué aux pauvres au fur et à mesure de leurs
     besoins.

     Ceci ne faisait pas le compte, dit la tradition, des
     commis-voyageurs du malin esprit, qui ne trouvaient plus d'âmes à
     acheter.

     Aidés par un valet infâme, ils pénétrèrent dans la retraite de la
     noble dame et lui dérobèrent le reste de son trésor ... en vain
     lutta-t-elle de toutes ses forces pour sauver le contenu de son
     coffre, les larrons diaboliques furent les plus forts. Si Ketty
     avait eu les moyens de faire un signe de croix, ajoute la légende
     Irlandaise, elle les eût mis en fuite, mais ses mains étaient
     captives--Le larcin fut effectué. Alors les pauvres sollicitèrent
     en vain près de Ketty dépouillée, elle ne pouvait plus secourir
     leur misère;--elle les abandonnait à la tentation. Pourtant il n'y
     avait plus que huit jours à passer pour que les grains et lea
     fourrages arrivassent en abondance des pays d'Orient. Mais, huit
     jours, c'était un siècle: huit jours nécessitaient une somme
     immense pour subvenir aux exigences de la disette, et les pauvres
     allaient ou expirer dans les angousses de la faim, ou, reniant les
     saintes maximes de l'Evangile, vendre à vil prix leur âme, le plus
     beau présent de la munificence du Seigneur tout-puissant.

     Et Ketty n'avait plus une obole, car elle avait abandonné son
     châteux aux malheureux.

     Elle passa douze heures dans les larmes et le deuil, arrachant ses
     cheveux couleur de soleil et meurtrissant son sein couleur du lis:
     puis elle se leva résolue, animée par un vif sentiment de
     désespoir.

     Elle se rendit chez les marchands d'âmes.

     --Que voulez-vous? dirent ils.

     --Vous achetez des âmes?

     --Oui, un peu malgré vous, n'est ce pas, sainte aux yeux de saphir?

     --Aujourd'hui je viens vous proposer un marché, reprit elle.

     --Lequel?

     --J'ai une âme a vendre; mais elle est chère.

     --Qu'importe si elle est précieuse? l'âme, comme le diamant,
     s'apprécie à sa blancheur.

     --C'est la mienne, dit Ketty.

     Les deux envoyés de Satan tressaillirent. Leurs griffes
     s'allongèrent sous leurs gants de cuir; leurs yeux gris
     étincelèrent--l'âme, pure, immaculée, virginale de Ketty!...
     c'était une acquisition inappréciable.

     --Gentille dame, combien voulez-vous?

     --Cent cinquante mille écus d'or.

     --C'est fait, dirent les marchands: et ils tendirent à Ketty un
     parchemin cacheté de noir, qu'elle signa en frissonnant.

     La somme lui fut comptée.

     Des qu'elle fut rentrée, elle dit au majordome:

     --Tenez, distribuez ceci. Avec la somme que je vous donne les
     pauvres attendront la huitaine nécessaire et pas une de leurs âmes
     ne sera livrée au démon.

     Puis elle s'enferma et recommanda qu'on ne vint pas la déranger.

     Trois jours se passèrent; elle n'appela pas; elle ne sortit pas.

     Quand on ouvrit sa porte, on la trouva raide et froide: elle était
     morte de douleur.

     Mais la vente de cette âme si adorable dans sa charité fut déclarée
     nulle par le Seigneur: car elle avait sauvé ses concitoyens de la
     morte éternelle.

     Après la huitaine, des vaisseaux nombreux amenèrent à l'Irlande
     affamée d'immenses provisions de grains.

     La famine n'était plus possible. Quant aux marchands, ils
     disparurent de leur hôtellerie, sans qu'on sût jamais ce qu'ils
     étaient devenus.

     Toutefois, les pêcheurs de la Blackwater prétendent qu'ils sont
     enchainés dans une prison souterraine par ordre de Lucifer jusqu'au
     moment où ils pourront livrer l'âme de Ketty qui leur a échappé. Je
     vous dis la légende telle que je la sais.

     --Mais les pauvres l'ont raconté d'âge en âge et les enfants de
     Cork et de Dublin chantent encore la ballade dont voici les
     derniers couplets:--

  Pour sauver les pauvres qu'elle aime
      Ketty donna
  Son esprit, sa croyance même:
      Satan paya
  Cette âme au dévoûment sublime,
      En écus d'or,
  Disons pour racheter son crime,
      _Confiteor_.

  Mais l'ange qui se fit coupable
      Par charité
  Au séjour d'amour ineffable
      Est remonté.
  Satan vaincu n'eut pas de prise
      Sur ce coeur d'or;
  Chantons sous la nef de l'église,
      _Confiteor_.

     N'est ce pas que ce récit, né de l'imagination des poètes
     catholiques de la verte Erin, est une véritable récit de carême?

_The Countess Cathleen_ was acted in Dublin in 1899, with Mr. Marcus St.
John and Mr. Trevor Lowe as the First and Second Demon, Mr. Valentine
Grace as Shemus Rua, Master Charles Sefton as Teig, Madame San Carola as
Mary, Miss Florence Farr as Aleel, Miss Anna Mather as Oona, Mr. Charles
Holmes as the Herdsman, Mr. Jack Wilcox as the Gardener, Mr. Walford as
a Peasant, Miss Dorothy Paget as a Spirit, Miss M. Kelly as a Peasant
Woman, Mr. T.E. Wilkinson as a Servant, and Miss May Whitty as The
Countess Kathleen. They had to face a very vehement opposition stirred
up by a politician and a newspaper, the one accusing me in a pamphlet,
the other in long articles day after day, of blasphemy because of the
language of the demons or of Shemus Rua, and because I made a woman sell
her soul and yet escape damnation, and of a lack of patriotism because I
made Irish men and women, who, it seems, never did such a thing, sell
theirs. The politician or the newspaper persuaded some forty Catholic
students to sign a protest against the play, and a Cardinal, who avowed
that he had not read it, to make another, and both politician and
newspaper made such obvious appeals to the audience to break the peace,
that a score or so of police were sent to the theatre to see that they
did not. I had, however, no reason to regret the result, for the stalls,
containing almost all that was distinguished in Dublin, and a gallery of
artisans alike insisted on the freedom of literature.

After the performance in 1899 I added the love scene between Aleel and
the Countess, and in this new form the play was revived in New York by
Miss Wycherley as well as being played a good deal in England and
America by amateurs. Now at last I have made a complete revision to make
it suitable for performance at the Abbey Theatre. The first two scenes
are almost wholly new, and throughout the play I have added or left out
such passages as a stage experience of some years showed me encumbered
the action; the play in its first form having been written before I knew
anything of the theatre. I have left the old end, however, in the
version printed in the body of this book, because the change for
dramatic purposes has been made for no better reason than that
audiences--even at the Abbey Theatre--are almost ignorant of Irish
mythology--or because a shallow stage made the elaborate vision of armed
angels upon a mountain-side impossible. The new end is particularly
suited to the Abbey stage, where the stage platform can be brought out
in front of the proscenium and have a flight of steps at one side up
which the Angel comes, crossing towards the back of the stage at the
opposite side. The principal lighting is from two arc lights in the
balcony which throw their lights into the faces of the players, making
footlights unnecessary. The room at Shemus Rua's house is suggested by a
great grey curtain--a colour which becomes full of rich tints under the
stream of light from the arcs. The two or more arches in the third scene
permit the use of a gauze. The short front scene before the last is just
long enough when played with incidental music to allow the scene set
behind it to be changed. The play when played without interval in this
way lasts a little over an hour.

The play was performed at the Abbey Theatre for the first time on
December 14, 1911, Miss Maire O'Neill taking the part of the Countess,
and the last scene from the going out of the Merchants was as follows:--

     (MERCHANTS _rush out_. ALEEL _crawls into the middle of the room;
     the twilight has fallen and gradually darkens as the scene goes
     on_.)

  ALEEL

  They're rising up--they're rising through the earth,
  Fat Asmodel and giddy Belial,
  And all the fiends. Now they leap in the air.
  But why does Hell's gate creak so? Round and round.
  Hither and hither, to and fro they're running.

(_He moves about as though the air was full of spirits._ OONA _enters_.)

  Crouch down, old heron, out of the blind storm.

  OONA

  Where is the Countess Cathleen? All this day
  Her eyes were full of tears, and when for a moment
  Her hand was laid upon my hand, it trembled.
  And now I do not know where she is gone.

  ALEEL

  Cathleen has chosen other friends than us,
  And they are rising through the hollow world.
  Demons are out, old heron.

  OONA

                             God guard her soul.

  ALEEL

  She's bartered it away this very hour,
  As though we two were never in the world.

(_He kneels beside her, but does not seem to hear her words. The_
PEASANTS _return. They carry the_ COUNTESS CATHLEEN _and lay her upon
the ground before_ OONA _and_ ALEEL. _She lies there as if dead._)

  OONA

  O, that so many pitchers of rough clay
  Should prosper and the porcelain break in two!

(_She kisses the hands of_ CATHLEEN.)

  A PEASANT

  We were under the tree where the path turns
  When she grew pale as death and fainted away.

  CATHLEEN

  O, hold me, and hold me tightly, for the storm
  Is dragging me away.

(OONA _takes her in her arms_. A WOMAN _begins to wail_.)

  PEASANTS

                       Hush!

  PEASANTS

                             Hush!

  PEASANT WOMEN

                                   Hush!

  OTHER PEASANT WOMEN

                                         Hush!

  CATHLEEN (_half rising_)

  Lay all the bags of money in a heap,
  And when I am gone, old Oona, share them out
  To every man and woman: judge, and give
  According to their needs.

  A PEASANT WOMAN

                            And will she give
  Enough to keep my children through the dearth?

  ANOTHER PEASANT WOMAN

  O, Queen of Heaven, and all you blessed saints,
  Let us and ours be lost, so she be shriven.

  CATHLEEN

  Bend down your faces, Oona and Aleel;
  I gaze upon them as the swallow gazes
  Upon the nest under the eave, before
  She wander the loud waters. Do not weep
  Too great a while, for there is many a candle
  On the High Altar though one fall. Aleel,
  Who sang about the dancers of the woods,
  That know not the hard burden of the world,
  Having but breath in their kind bodies, farewell!
  And farewell, Oona, you who played with me
  And bore me in your arms about the house
  When I was but a child--and therefore happy,
  Therefore happy even like those that dance.
  The storm is in my hair and I must go.

(_She dies._)


  OONA

  Bring me the looking-glass.

(A WOMAN _brings it to her out of inner room_. OONA _holds glass over
the lips of_ CATHLEEN. _All is silent for a moment, then she speaks in a
half-scream._)

                              O, she is dead!

  A PEASANT

  She was the great white lily of the world.

  A PEASANT

  She was more beautiful than the pale stars.

  AN OLD PEASANT WOMAN

  The little plant I loved is broken in two.

(ALEEL _takes looking-glass from_ OONA _and flings it upon floor, so
that it is broken in many pieces_.)

  ALEEL

  I shatter you in fragments, for the face
  That brimmed you up with beauty is no more;
  And die, dull heart, for you that were a mirror
  Are but a ball of passionate dust again!
  And level earth and plumy sea, rise up!
  And haughty sky, fall down!

  A PEASANT WOMAN

                              Pull him upon his knees,
  His curses will pluck lightning on our heads.

  ALEEL

  Angels and devils clash in the middle air,
  And brazen swords clang upon brazen helms.
  Look, look, a spear has gone through Belial's eye!

(_A winged_ ANGEL, _carrying a torch and a sword, enters from the_ R.
_with eyes fixed upon some distant thing. The_ ANGEL _is about to pass
out to the_ L. _when_ ALEEL _speaks. The_ ANGEL _stops a moment and
turns_.)

  Look no more on the half-closed gates of Hell,
  But speak to me whose mind is smitten of God,
  That it may be no more with mortal things:
  And tell of her who lies there.

(_The_ ANGEL _turns again and is about to go, but is seized by_ ALEEL.)

                                  Till you speak
  You shall not drift into eternity.

  THE ANGEL

  The light beats down; the gates of pearl are wide.
  And she is passing to the floor of peace,
  And Mary of the seven times wounded heart
  Has kissed her lips, and the long blessed hair
  Has fallen on her face; the Light of Lights
  Looks always on the motive, not the deed,
  The Shadow of Shadows on the deed alone.

(ALEEL _releases the_ ANGEL _and kneels_.)

  OONA

  Tell them to walk upon the floor of peace,
  That I would die and go to her I love;
  The years like great black oxen tread the world,
  And God the herdsman goads them on behind,
  And I am broken by their passing feet.

_Down by the Salley Gardens._--An extension of three lines sung to me by
an old woman at Ballisodare.

_Findrinny (Findruine)._--A kind of white bronze.

_Finvarra (Finbar)._--The king of the faeries of Connaught.

_Hell._--In the older Irish books Hell is always cold, and it may be
because the Fomoroh, or evil powers, ruled over the north and the
winter. Christianity adopted as far as possible the Pagan symbolism in
Ireland as elsewhere, and Irish poets, when they spoke of "the cold
flagstone of Hell," may have repeated Pagan symbolism. The folk-tales,
and Keating in his description of Hell, make use, however, of the
ordinary symbolism of fire.

_The Lamentation of the Pensioner._--This poem is little more than a
translation into verse of the very words of an old Wicklow peasant. Fret
means doom or destiny.

_The Land of Heart's Desire._--This little play was produced at the
Avenue Theatre in the spring of 1894, with the following cast:--Maurteen
Bruin, Mr. James Welch; Shawn Bruin, Mr. A.E.W. Mason; Father Hart, Mr.
G.R. Foss; Bridget Bruin, Miss Charlotte Morland; Maire Bruin, Miss
Winifred Fraser; A Faery Child, Miss Dorothy Paget. It ran for a little
over six weeks. It was revived in America in 1901, when it was taken on
tour by Mrs. Lemoyne. It has been played two or three times
professionally since then in America and a great many times in England
and America by amateurs. Till lately it was not part of the repertory of
the Abbey Theatre, for I had grown to dislike it without knowing what I
disliked in it. This winter, however, I have made many revisions and now
it plays well enough to give me pleasure. It is printed in this book in
the new form, which was acted for the first time on February 22, 1912,
at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. At the Abbey Theatre, where the platform
of the stage comes out in front of the curtain, the curtain falls before
the priest's last words. He remains outside the curtain and the words
are spoken to the audience like an epilogue.

_The Meditation of the Old Fisherman._--This poem is founded upon some
things a fisherman said to me when out fishing in Sligo Bay.

_Northern Cold._--The Fomor, the powers of death and darkness and cold
and evil, came from the north.

_Nuala._--The wife of Finvarra.

_Rose._--The rose is a favourite symbol with the Irish poets, and has
given a name to several poems both Gaelic and English, and is used in
love poems, in addresses to Ireland like Mr. Aubrey de Vere's poem
telling how "The little black rose shall be red at last," and in
religious poems, like the old Gaelic one which speaks of "the Rose of
Friday," meaning the Rose of Austerity.

_Salley._--Willow.

_Seven Hazel-trees._--There was once a well overshadowed by seven sacred
hazel-trees, in the midst of Ireland. A certain woman plucked their
fruit, and seven rivers arose out of the well and swept her away. In my
poems this well is the source of all the waters of this world, which are
therefore seven-fold.

_The Wanderings of Usheen._--The poem is founded upon the middle Irish
dialogues of S. Patric and Usheen and a certain Gaelic poem of the last
century. The events it describes, like the events in most of the poems
in this volume, are supposed to have taken place rather in the
indefinite period, made up of many periods, described by the folk-tales,
than in any particular century; it therefore, like the later Fenian
stories themselves, mixes much that is mediæval with much that is
ancient. The Gaelic poems do not make Usheen go to more than one island,
but a story in _Silva Gadelica_ describes "four paradises," an island to
the north, an island to the west, an island to the south, and Adam's
paradise in the east.

  _Printed in Great Britain by_

  UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED
  WOKING AND LONDON

  Transcriber's Notes:
  Page 16: 'thictkes' changed to 'thickets'
  Page 172: 'He brings in' could be 'She brings in'
  Page 263: 'Before this duy' changed to 'Before this day'
  Page 290: 'Far from the hazel and oak.' changed to 'Far from
    the hazel and oak,'
  Page 295: 'move far off' could be 'move far oft'





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