To the Coming Flowers

Unknown early 20th Century Irish Poet

Awake, dear sleepers, from your wintry tombs;

The sun has turned the point of Capricorn,

And ‘gins to pluck from Winter’s wings the plumes

SnowdropsOf darkness, and to wind his silver horn

For your return. Come to your homes, forlorn

In absence of your odours and your faces;

Like Rachel weeps for you the reaved morn,

As often as she views your empty places,

Erewhile the daily scene of her and your embraces.

crocusCome, pensile snowdrop, like the earliest star

That twinkles on the brow of dusky Night;

Come, like the child that peeps from door ajar,

With pallid cheek, upon a wasteful sight:

And shouldst thou rise when all around is white,

The more thou’lt demonstrate the power of God

To shield the weak against the arms of might,

To strengthen feeble shoulders for their load,

And sinking hearts ‘mid ills they could not full forebode.

Come, crocus cup, the cup where early bees

lilySip the first nectar of the liberal year,

Come and illume our green, as similes

Light up the poet’s song. And O ye dear

March violets, come near, come breathing near!

You too, fair primroses, in darksome woods

Shine forth, like heaven’s constellations clear;

And come, ye daisies, throng in multitudes,

And whiten hills and meadows with your saintly hoods.

Come with thy lilies, May; thy roses, June;

Come with your richer hues, Autumnal hours;

FoxgloveO tell your mellowing sun, your regal moon,

Your dewy drops, your soft refreshing showers,

To lift their blessing hands in Flora’s bowers,

Nor e’en to scorn the bindweed’s flossy gold,

Nor foxglove’s banner hung with purple flowers,

Nor solitary heath that cheers the wold,

Nor the last daisy shivering in November’s cold!

Anne Maria Carew

The following inscription was found in on a tombstone in the churchyard of Youghal that marks the grave of Anne Maria Carew, who died at the young age of 24 years.

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, when
hope hath built a bow’r
Like that of Eden, wreathed about
with many a thornless
flow’r,
To dwell therein securely, the self-
deceivers trust—
A whirlwind from the desert
 comes, and all is in the dust.

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, that
when the poor heart clings
With all its finest tendrils, with all
its flexile rings,
That goodly thing it cleaveth to so
fondly and so fast,
Is struck to earth by lightning, or
shattered by the blast.

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, with
beams of mortal bliss,
With looks too bright and
beautiful for such a world as
this,
One moment round about us their
angel light wings play;
Then down the veil of darkness
drops, and all is passed
away.

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, with
creatures heavenly fair,
Too finely formed to bear
the brunt more earthly natures
bear—
A little while they dwell with us,
blest ministers of love,
Then spread the wings we had not
seen, and seek their homes
above.

(Unknown Author)

Anne Maria Carew

The following inscription was found in on a tombstone in the churchyard of Youghal that marks the grave of Anne Maria Carew, who died at the young age of 24 years.

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, when                                  Anne Maria Carew

hope hath built a bow’r

Like that of Eden, wreathed about

with many a thornless

flow’r,

To dwell therein securely, the self-

deceivers trust—

A whirlwind from the desert

comes, and all is in the dust.

 

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, that

when the poor heart clings

With all its finest tendrils, with all

its flexile rings,

That goodly thing it cleaveth to so

fondly and so fast,

Is struck to earth by lightning, or

shattered by the blast.

 

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, with

beams of mortal bliss,

With looks too bright and

beautiful for such a world as

this,

One moment round about us their

angel light wings play;

Then down the veil of darkness

drops, and all is passed

away.

 

’Tis ever thus, ’tis ever thus, with

creatures heavenly fair,

Too finely formed to bear

the brunt more earthly natures

bear—

A little while they dwell with us,

blest ministers of love,

Then spread the wings we had not

seen, and seek their homes

above.

 

(Unknown Author)

The Blarney Part I

It is said by many that a sweet-talking Irishman has a “Touch of the Blarney”, a gift of speaking given to him because he has kissed the ‘Blarney Stone’. The following verse I once heard, but I cannot recall the person who wrote it, and I offer it to the readers as a basic introduction to the story that follows it.

“Oh, did you ne’er hear of the

Blarney,

‘Tis found near the banks of

Killarney,

Believe it from me, no girl’s heart is

free,

Once she hears the sweet sound of

the Blarney.”

 

“Ah! Dear God, Mick! You can talk and advise me until I’m blue in the face, but it still won’t matter for I just cannot do it. That, my friend, is just the long and the short of it.”

“Would you just listen to him, surely you are not one of these bashful types are you, Eddie?”

“It’s true Mick! I’m afraid it all true.”

“Have you gone completely mad? You know that they’ll put into a museum along with other rare creatures like mermaids and Dodo-Birds! A bashful Irish man! Sure, nothing like it has ever been heard of, never mind been seen.”

“Aye, so they say. But, friend, I have caught the complaint anyway.”

“Well! May my arse trail the ground if ever I have heard the likes of this from a friend of mine!  It makes me worry about the future of our race, for if modesty gets a hold among us Irish it will be the ruin of us altogether. I shouldn’t surprise me that some of them damned English men have inoculated us with this affliction, as they travelled through our country. Now, Eddie, tell me what does it feel like when you are blushing?”

“Ah! Mick, now don’t you be laughing at me and making fun. Sure, there is none of us can help having a weakness. Anyway, it is only when I am with her that my heart seems to melt away entirely.”

“Never mind, my friend. Sure, it’s only a good man, like you, who can feel like that anyway. And so, pretty Nelly has put the spell on you and taken over your senses?”

“You could well say that, Mick, for its not one bit of sense do I have left. Sometimes I wonder if I ever possessed even an ounce of sense in my body. Do you know, Mick, no joking, but isn’t it a mighty odd thing that I can’t get my usually big mouth to utter a single word out of my head when I see her looking at me? Did you ever see Nelly’s eye, Mick?”

“I’ve seen them hundreds of times.”

“Maybe that isn’t an eye?”

“Maybe there isn’t a pair of them, now that I think on it?”

“As sure as there is an eye in a goat, I have never seen such wicked-looking innocence in the eyes of a Christian person before.  At least there is no one that I can remember.”

“Sure, man dear, it’s only right that you should think like that, Eddie.”

“Oh! Mick, the joy that beams out of those eyes, when she’s happy, is to me as good as that wonderful warm feeling you get from the softest sun-ray that ever made the world smile. But when she’s sad, oh, Christ, Christ, Mick! When those watery jewels flutter about her silken eye-lashes, or they flow slowly down upon her downy cheek, like dew upon a rose-leaf, who in the name of God could endure it? It’s as much as I can do to stand up before those merry glances, but when her eyes take to the water, then by all the powers of heaven, it bothers my heart out an’ out and I don’t know what to do.”

“Fair Play, Eddie.”

“And then there is her mouth! Did you ever see Nelly’s mouth, Mick?”

“I’ve only seen it from a distance, Eddie.”

“Well, that’s what I call a real mouth, Mick. It’s not like all those other mouths that are only to pile food and drink into. Her mouth is a soft-talking, sweet-loving mouth, with her kisses growing in tempting clusters about it, which none dare have the cheek to pluck off. Isn’t that right, Mick?”

“Now, be quiet for a while Eddie. Hold your tongue.”

“I will tell you, Mick, that if Nelly’s heart isn’t the very bed of love, why then Cupid is a total gobshite, that’s all. And then her teeth! Did you ever take notice of those teeth? I tell you that even the best pearls are simple paving-stones compared to Nelly’s teeth. Oh, how they do gleam and flash, as her beautiful round red lips part to let out a voice that is just so soft and sweet, almost like honey. Every word she speaks slips into the soul of a man, whether he likes it or not. Oh! Mike, Mike, there is absolutely no use in talking. If that woman isn’t an angel, she ought to be, and that’s all.”

“Jaysus, you really have fallen for this girl in a big way, Eddie, and that’s a fact. It’s a wonderful thing to see the talent that a boy can develop for talking such nonsense when his soft emotions get stirring in his head. Tell me, Eddie, have you ever spoken to her?”

“What? How could I? Sure, wasn’t I too busy listening to her? But, in all honesty, and between you and me, the truth of the matter is, I just couldn’t do it. Whether it was that she had bewitched me, or that my senses had got completely drowned with drinking in all her charms, making me stammer and stutter like a child, I don’t know! But every time that I attempted to say something to her, my tongue, may the devil take it, twisted and turned itself into knots, and sure devil the word would it say for itself, bad or good.”

“Well, now, allow me to think for a moment, and let me give you a wee bit of advice, Eddie. The next time you see that girl, just take it easy. Keep your feelings in check! Put a big stone on them and simply ask her about the weather. Your problem is, you see, that you want to pour out all you have to say at once, and your throat is too small and narrow to let it all through.”

“Be patient and cool, sure that’s good advice, Mick, if I can but follow it. This love is a great and troublesome affection, isn’t it?”

“It’s tremendous, Eddie. I had it once myself.”

“How did you catch it?”

“I didn’t catch it at all. I took to it naturally.”

“And did you ever get cured, Mick? Tell me.”

“I was completely cured.”

“How did that happen?”

“I got married.”

“Oh God, let’s just go to work.”

From this conversation between two friends, Mick Riley and Eddie Flynn, it is quite clear that fabled Cupid’s arrow, “Feathered with pleasure and tipped with pain,” had firmly embedded itself in Eddie’s heart. Putting it plain and simple, Eddie Flynn was completely infatuated with Miss Nelly Malone. During a rest period at work they had indulged in this discussion and, when the conversation was ended, the two men resumed their mowing. Mick, the settled “married man” began to hum a sprightly air, which kept time to the stroke of his scythe. Meanwhile, the love-struck Eddie joined in, every now and then, with strictly orthodox sighs as an accompaniment.

It certainly was a most clear signal of just how strongly attracted Eddie was to pretty Nell. There was never a more noble heart that ever beat than the honest, manly heart that now throbbed with the first pangs of a passion that was both pure and unselfish. After an hour or two of labour, the two men rested again. Eddie was feeling rather sad and he remained silent. There is something within Irish men that makes them regard suffering as sacred and, having respect for this suffering in his friend, Mick also kept quiet. Finally, Eddie looked up. He was still a little downcast and there was a sheepish expression on his face, but there was the slight trace of a smile that crept across his lips as he said, “Mick, do you know what?”

“What?” said Mick.

“I’ve written a bit of a song about Nelly.”

You didn’t,” smiled Mick, with an ambiguity in his voice that made it obvious that he believed his friend. “Is it a song?” he asked tactfully, “Sure why shouldn’t you? Haven’t you the great heart of a poet, and the ability to write songs that are as good as anyone else’s? Give us a wee blast of it, Eddie.”

“Damn the bit of it will I sing! Sure, you’ll only laugh at me, Mick.”

“Me? Not at all, Eddie!” replied Mick in such a manner that Eddie was convinced that his friend would not make fun of his efforts to sing. After pausing for a minute or two to prepare, Eddie cleared his throat nervously and, with a fine, clear voice, he began to sing:

blarneystone“All you sporting young heroes, with

hearts so light and free,

Take care how you come near

the town of Tralee;

For the witch of all witches that

ever wove a spell

In the town of Tralee, at this moment

does dwell.

 

“Oh, then, don’t venture near her, be

warned by me,

For the devil all out is the Rose of

Tralee.

 

“She’s as soft and as bright as a

young summer morn,

Her breath’s like the breeze

from the fresh blossomed thorn,

Her cheek has the sea shell’s pale

delicate hue,

And her lips are like rose leaves just

bathed in the dew;

 

“So, then, don’t venture near her, be

warned by me,

For she’s mighty destructive, this

Rose of Tralee.

 

“Oh! her eyes of dark blue, they so

heavenly are

Like the night sky of summer,

and each holds a star;

Were her tongue mute as silence,

man’s life they’d control;

But eyes and tongue both are too

much for one’s soul.

 

“Young men, stay at home, then,

and leave her to me,

For I’d die with delight for the Rose

of Tralee.”

Potheen

A poem by “Barney Maglone” aka Robert Arthur Wilson (1820-75)

Of all the navygations
That ever left the shore
I tell this mortal nation
‘Tis potheen I adore.
I have the tender crathur
All in her punchy dhress
And when she’s mother-naked
I love her none the less.
If she had but a night-dhress
Of Shugar on her skin,
I’m not the boy that would refuse
To take the swate one in.
Well I mind the lively night
Her mother, Sall, lay in;
How did I press the babe
Between my nose and chin.
An’ if she was ould as
Methoosalem’s first hat,
I’d love her as the crame’s loved by
That sleekit bastem, the cat.
If mighty Dutheronomy
That hayro of renown,
Likewise July-us Saizer
That won the British Crown –
If Hector an’ bowld Vaynus,
With Lusy-an the ass,
Also Neb-you-codnazzur,
So mighty at the grass –
Were all with Martin Luther,
With Gladstone, and with Lowe,
I’d box them left and right afore
I’d let my charmer go.
It’s thrue she has been thricky,
As Irish maids do be;
An’ I must own that sometimes
She’s played a prank on me.
She rowled me in the soft mud
One night she got me down,
When I was just meanderin’
About a mile from town.
She gave my eyes a paintin’
And gave my nose a swell,
Another winther’s evenin’
When huggin’ her too well.
But all these lovin’ capers
I aisily forgive
An’ if she knocks my branes out,
I’ll love her while I live.
I’d face the French and Prooshans’
An’ the Permissive Bill,
Afore, I’d lose my darlin’
The daughter of the still!

End

The Fairy Thorn

A Poem written in Ireland by Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886)

Get up, our Anna dear, from the weary spinning wheel;

For your father’s on the hill, and your mother is asleep:

Come up above the crags, and we’ll dance a highland-reel

Around the fairy thorn on the steep.

At Anna Grace’ door ’twas thus the maidens cried,
Three merry maiden fair in kirtles of the green,
And Anna laid the rock and the weary wheel aside,
The fairest of the four, I ween.
They’re glancing through the glimmer of the quiet eve,
Away in milky wavings of neck and ancle bare;
The heavy-sliding stream in its sleepy song they leave,
And the craigs in the ghostly air.
And linking hand in hand, and swinging as they go,
The maids along the hill-side have ta’en their fearless way,
Till they come to where the rowan trees in lonely beauty grow
Beside the Fairy Hawthorn grey.
The Hawthorn stand between the ashes tall and slim,
Like matron with her twin grand-daughters at her knee;
The Rowan berries cluster o’er low head grey and dim
In ruddy kisses sweet to see.
The merry maidens four have ranged them in a row,
Between each lovely couple a stately rowan stem,
And away in maze’s wavy, like skimming birds they go,
Oh, never caroll’d bird like them!
But solemn in the silence of the silvery haze
That drinks away their voices in echoless repose
And dreamily the evening has still’d the haunted braes,
And dreamier the gloaming grows.
And sinking one by one, like lark-notes from the sky
When the falcon’s shadow saileth across the open shaw,
Are hush’d the maidens’ voices, as cowering down they lie
In the flutter of their sudden awe.
Far, from the air above, and the grassy ground beneath,
And from the mountain-ashes and the old Whitethorn between,
A power of faint enchantment doth through their beings breathe,
And they sink down together on the green.
They sink together silent, and stealing side by side,
They fling their lovely arms o’er their drooping necks so fair,
Then vainly arrive again their naked arms to hide,
For their shrinking necks again are bare.
Thus clasp’d and prostrate all with their heads together bow’d,
Soft o’er their bosoms beating – the only human sound –
They hear the silky footsteps of the silent fairy crowd.
Like a river in the air, gliding round.
No scream can any raise, no prayer can any say,
But wild, wild, the terror of the speechless three –
For they feel fair Anna Grace drown silently away,
By whom they dare not look to see.
They fed their tresses twine with her parting locks of gold,
And the curls elastic falling as her head withdraws;
They feel her sliding arms from their tranced arms unfold.
But they may not look to see the cause:
For heavy on their senses the faint enchantment lies
Through all that night of anguish and perilous amaze;
And neither fear nor wonder can open their quivering eyes
Or their limbs from the cold ground raise.
Till out of night the earth has roll’d her dewy side,
With every haunted mountain and streamy vale below;
When, as the mist dissolves in the yellow morning tide,
The maiden’s trance dissolveth so.
Then fly the ghastly three as swiftly as they may,
And tell their tale of sorrow to anxious friends in vain –
They pined away and died within the year and day,
And ne’er was Anna Grace seen again.

End