The Stories of Seamus No.2

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)

The Fairies

Where are the wonderful elves, and the fairy creatures bright?

Where are the tiny things that danced in the pale moonlight?

Danced in a magic ring, and fluttered in robes of white,

Like motes in the sunbeam whirled, like leaves in the forest hoar.

Hark to the sound of the sea, and the cry of the waves on the shore.

Where are the dusky gnomes who toiled in the golden ground?

So that the miners trembled hearing their hammers’ sound,

Hearing them tapping, tapping, delving in darkness bound,

A thousand tapping hammers, beneath them hammering.

Hark to the muttered thunder, the voice of the hidden spring.

Where are the forest fairies, the elves in Lincoln green,

Deep in the forest hidden, and never in cities seen,

Sought for by timid maidens, on sainted Hallowe’en,

The joy of all true lovers, a merry band were they!

Hark to the hum of the bee, in the scented blooms of May.

Where are the household fairies, who loved the embers’ glow,

Who played at games with the shadows flickering to and fro,

But left no track on the sanded floor, no trace on the fallen snow,

And filled up the little slippers the children left behind,

Hark to the howl of the tempest, the moan of the stormy wind.

The elves are waiting, waiting, for the golden days to come,

When grief shall be known no longer, nor faithful love be dumb;

Till the figures all are added up, and finished the mighty sum.

Ah yes, they are waiting, waiting, till grief shall be no more.

Hark to the rustle of raindrops, that kiss the deserted shore.

Sisters

There are occasions when you come across some lovely pieces of poetry when you study folklore and customs. The following is a poem I picked up a few weeks ago and thought it was so nice that I should share it with you. As for the author, all I know is that it is by a 19th Century Poet/Poetess. Please enjoy…

The day had gone as fades a dream;

The night had come, and rain fell fast;

While o’er the black and sluggish stream

Cold blew the wailing blast.

In pensive mood I idly raised

The curtain from the rain-splashed glass,

And as into the street I gazed,

I saw two women pass.

One shivering with the bitter cold,

Her garments heavy with the rain,

Limped by with features wan and old,

Deep farrowed by sharp pain.

A child in form, a child in years;

But from her piteous pallid face,

The weariness of life with tears

Had washed all childlike grace.

And as she passed me faint and weak,

I heard her slowly say, as though

With throbbing heart about to break:

‘”Move on!” Where shall I go?’

The other, who on furs reclined,

In brougham was driven to the play;

No thought within her vacant mind

Of those in rags that day:

With unmoved heart and idle stare,

Passed by the beggar in the street,

Who lifted up her hands in prayer,

Some charity to meet.

Both vanished in the murky night:

The outcast on a step to die;

The lady to a scene of light,

Where Joy alone did sigh.

But angels saw amid her hair

What was by human eyes unseen;

The grass that grows on graves was there,

With leaves of ghastly green.

And though her diamonds flashed the light

Upon the flatterers gathered near,

The outcast’s brow had gem more bright –

An angel’s pitying tear.

An Unknown 19th Century Irish Poet

The World’s Changes

By an unknown Irish Poet.

The Solemn Shadow that bears in his hands

The conquering Scythe and the Glass of Sands,

Paused once on his flight where the sunrise shone

On a warlike city’s towers of stone;

And he asked of a panoplied soldier near,

“How long has this fortressed city been here?”

And the man looked up, Man’s pride on his brow—

“The city stands here from the ages of old

And as it was then, and as it is now,

So will it endure till the funeral knell

Of the world be knolled,

As Eternity’s annals shall tell.

And after a thousand years were o’er,

The Shadow paused over the spot once more.

And vestige was none of a city there,

But lakes lay blue, and plains lay bare,

And the marshalled corn stood high and pale,

And a Shepherd piped of love in a vale.

“How!” spake the Shadow, “can temple and tower

Thus fleet, like mist, from the morning hour?”

But the Shepherd shook the long locks from his brow—

“The world is filled with sheep and corn;

Thus was it of old, thus is it now,

Thus, too, will it be while moon and sun

Rule night and morn,

For Nature and Life are one.”

And after a thousand years were o’er,

The Shadow paused over the spot once more.

And lo! in the room of the meadow-lands

A sea foamed far over saffron sands,

And flashed in the noontide bright and dark,

And a fisher was casting his nets from a bark;

How marvelled the Shadow!

“Where then is the plain?

And where be the acres of golden grain?”

But the fisher dashed off the salt spray from his brow—

“The waters begirdle the earth always,

The sea ever rolled as it rolleth now:

What babblest thou about grain and fields?

By night and day Man looks for what Ocean yields.”

And after a thousand years were o’er,

The Shadow paused over the spot once more.

And the ruddy rays of the eventide

Were gilding the skirts of a forest wide;

The moss of the trees looked old, so old!

And valley and hill, the ancient mould

Was robed in sward, an evergreen cloak;

And a woodman sang as he felled an oak.

Him asked the Shadow—“Rememberest thou

Any trace of a Sea where wave those trees?”

But the woodman laughed: Said he, “I trow,

If oaks and pines do flourish and fall,

It is not amid seas;—The earth is one forest all.”

And after a thousand years were o’er,

The Shadow paused over the spot once more.

And what saw the Shadow? A city agen,

But peopled by pale mechanical men,

With workhouses filled, and prisons, and marts,

And faces that spake exanimate hearts.

Strange picture and sad! was the Shadow’s thought;

And, turning to one of the Ghastly, he sought

For a clue in words to the When and the How

Of the ominous Change he now beheld;

But the man uplifted his care-worn brow—“Change?

What was Life ever but Conflict and Change?

From the ages of eld

Hath affliction been widening its range.”

Enough! said the Shadow, and passed from the spot

At last it is vanished, the beautiful youth

Of the earth, to return with no To-morrow;

All changes have checquered Mortality’s lot;

But this is the darkest—for Knowledge and Truth

Are but golden gates to the Temple of Sorrow!

You Can Guess

THERE are grottos in Wicklow, and groves in

Kildare,

And the loveliest glens robed with shamrock in

Clare,

And in fairy Killarney ’tis easy to find

Sweet retreats where a swain can unburden his

mind;

But of all the dear spots in our emerald isle,

Where verdure and sunshine crown life with a

smile,

There’s one boreen I love, for ’twas there I

confess

I first met my fate, — what it was you can guess.

It was under the shade of its bordering trees,

One day I grew suddenly weak at the knees

At the thought of what seemed quite a terrible

task,

And yet it was but a short question to ask.

’Twas over, and since, night and morning, I

bless

The boreen that heard the soft whisper of “yes.”

And the breezes that toyed with each clustering tress;

And the question was this— but I’m sure you

can guess.

Arthur M. Forrester

The Well-Known Spot

A Poem by an Unknown late 19th Century Irish Poet

Again, with joy I view the waking shore,

Where mem’ries live for ever in their green,

And from the solemn graveyard’s checkered floor

Gaze fondly o’er the all-enchanting scene.

The same sad rooks awake their mocking cries,

And drooping willows weep the early grave,

As o’er the dead the restless spirit flies,

Tries vainly yet yon broken heart to save.

But, hush! sad soul, nor leave this hallowed spot,

Where peaceful slumber seals the closèd eye.

The lonely sleeper now awaken not

By the rude raving, or the deep-drawn sigh.

Oh, let me mourn (the fainting heart replies),

These new-made graves, which take my wond’ring sight;

Say, who beneath this little tombstone lies,

Or who this Angel guards through the long night.

When last I saw, no mounds lay heaving there,

No sexton rude had turned the resting sod.

Alas, how changed! The holy and the fair

Have sunk in death and triumphed in their God.

Then let me pause, if here my Maker stays,

And guards his saints from the inhuman foe.

His word is true; my trembling heart obeys;

Bless’d are the dead who to the Saviour go.

Now new refulgence breathes o’er all the scene;

Yon lark’s sweet warble now is sweeter still;

Yon blady grass stands out in purer green;

And softer music tinkles from the rill.

For why? O mark! The cause is written here;

The pale-faced marble tells the softened tale,

That sweeteneth the sigh, arrests the starting tear,

And lulls to silence the untimely wail.

Winter’s Death

A Poem for Our Time

Winter Scene

As thus the snows arise; and foul, and fierce, 

All winter drives along the darkened air; 

In his own loose revolving fields, the swain 

Disaster’d stands; sees other hills ascend, 

Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, 

Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain: 

Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid 

Beneath the formless wild; but wanders on 

From hill to dale, still more and more astray, 

Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, 

Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of home 

Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth 

In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul! 

Winter Trees

What black despair, what horror fills his breast! 

When for the dusky spot, which fancy feign’d 

His tufted cottage rising through the snow, 

He meets the roughness of the middle waste 

Far from the track and blest abode of man, 

While round him might resistless closes fast, 

And every tempest, howling o’er his head, 

Renders the savage wildness more wild. 

Then throng the busy shapes into his mind, 

Of covered pits unfathomably deep, 

A dire descent! beyond the power of frost; 

Of faithless bogs; Of precipices huge 

Smoothed up with snow; and what is land, unknown, 

What water of the still unfrozen spring, In the loose marsh or solitary lake, 

Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. 

These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks 

Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, 

Thinking o’er all the bitterness of death, 

Mix’d with the tender anguish nature shoots 

Through the wrung bosom of the dying man—

His wife—his children—and his friends unseen. 

In vain for him the officious wife prepares 

The fire, fair, blazing, and the vestment warm. 

In vain his little children, peeping out 

Into the mingling storm, demand their sire 

With tears of artless innocence. Alas! 

Nor wife, nor children more shall he behold—

Nor friends, nor sacred home. On every nerve 

The deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense, 

And, o’er his inmost vitals creeping cold, 

Lays him along the snows, a stiffened corpse, 

Stretch’d out, and bleaching in the northern  blast.

Boreen in the Snow

ANONYMOUS IRISH POET

AN IRISH SCHOOLHOUSE.

By Arthur M. Forrester. (1889)

An Old Irish Schoolhouse

Upon the rugged ladder rungs— whose

pinnacle is Fame—

How often have ambitious pens deep graven

Harvard’s name; The gates of glory Cambridge men o’er

all the world assail,

And rulers in the realm of thought look back

with pride to Yale.

To no such Alma Mater can my Muse in

triumph raise

Its Irish voice in canticles of gratitude and

praise;

Yet still I hold in shrine of gold, and until death

I will,

The little schoolhouse, thatched with straw,

that lay behind the hill.

When in the balmy morning, racing down the

green boreen

Toward its portal, ivy-framed, our curly heads

were seen,

We felt no shame for ragged coats, nor blushed

for shoeless feet,

But bubbled o’er with laughter dear old

master’s smile to meet;

Yet saw beneath his homespun garb an awe-

inspiring store

Of learning’s fearful mysteries and academic

lore.

No monarch wielded sceptre half so potent as

his quill

In that old schoolhouse, thatched with straw,

that lay behind the hill.

Perhaps— and yet ’tis hard to think— our

boastful modern school

Might feel contempt for master, for his

methods and his rule;

Would scorn his simple ways— and in the rapid

march of mind

His patient face and thin gray locks would lag

far, far behind.

No matter; he was all to us, our guide and

mentor then;

He taught us how to face life’s fight with all the

grit of men;

To honor truth, and love the right, and in the

future fill

Our places in the world as he had done behind

the hill.

He taught us, too, of Ireland’s past; her glories

and her wrongs—

Our lessons being varied with the most

seditious songs:

We were quite a nest of rebels, and with boyish

fervor flung

Our hearts into the chorus of rebellion when

we sung.

In truth, this was the lesson, above all, we

conned so well

That some pursued the study in the English

prison cell,

And others had to cross the seas in curious

haste, but still

All living love to-day, as then, the school

behind the hill.

The wind blows through the thatchless roof in

stormy gusts to-day;

Around its walls young foxes now, in place of

children, play;

The hush of desolation broods o’er all the

country-side;

The pupils and their kith and kin are scattered

far and wide.

But wheresoe’er one scholar on the face of earth

may roam,

When in a gush of tears comes back the

memory of home,

He finds the brightest picture limned by

Fancy’s magic skill,

The little schoolhouse, thatched with straw,

that lay behind the hill.

THE OLD BOREEN.

By Arthur M. Forrester. (1890)

Embroidered with shamrocks and

spangled with daisies,

Tall foxgloves like sentinels guarding the

way,

The squirrel and hare played bo-peep in its

mazes,

The green hedgerows wooed it with odorous

spray;

The thrush and the linnet piped overtures in it,

The sun’s golden rays bathed its bosom of

green.

Bright scenes, fairest skies, pall to-day on my

eyes,

For I opened them first on an Irish boreen!

It flung o’er my boyhood its beauty and

gladness,

Rich homage of perfume and color it paid;

It laughed with my joy— in my moments of

sadness

What solace I found in its pitying shade.

When Love, to my rapture, rejoiced in my

capture,

My fetters the curls of a brown-haired colleen,

What draught from his chalice, in mansion or

palace,

So sweet as I quaffed in the dear old boreen?

But green fields were blighted and fair skies

beclouded,

Stern frost and harsh rain mocked the poor

peasant’s toil,

Ere they burst into blossom the buds were

enshrouded,

The seed ere its birth crushed in merciless

soil;

Wild tempests struck blindly, the landlord, less

kindly,

Aimed straight at our hearts with a “death

sentence” keen;

The blast spared our sheeling, which he, more

unfeeling,

Left roofless and bare to affright the boreen.

A dirge of farewell through the hawthorn was

pealing,

The wind seemed to stir branch and leaf with

a sigh,

As, down on a tear-bedewed shamrock sod

kneeling,

I kissed the old boreen a weeping good-by;

And vowed that should ever my patient

endeavor

The grains of success from life’s harvest-field

glean,

Where’er fortune found me, whatever ties

bound me,

My eyes should be closed in the dear old

boreen.

Ah! Fate has been cruel, in toil’s endless duel

With sickness and want I have earned only

scars;

Life’s twilight is nearing— its day disappearing

My weary soul sighs to escape through its

bars; But ere fields elysian shall dazzle

its vision,

Grant, Heaven, that its flight may be winged

through the scene

Of streamlet and wild-wood, the home of my

childhood,

The grave of my kin, and the dear old boreen!

Funeral Among the Little People

The term of Fairy life appears…

Restricted to a thousand years ; `

And hence, ’tis said, the envious spite,

With which some fairy elves delight ‘

To vex those days with care and strife,

Which prelude man’s immortal life.

Though Fancy’s eye at eve has seen

Bright fairies dancing on the green ;

And oft returning traced at morn

The rings by frequent footsteps worn ;

Though Fancy’s eye has Puck espied

While many a trick malign he tried;

Or kinder sprites has seen at night,

Aid human toils with elfish might

Their bounty oft in gifts has known,

Or proved-their wants by trivial loan;

Their utmost weakness still was hid,

A sight to prying gaze forbid,

Till one strange night, revealed at last

To rustic Wight, with awe aghast.

Amid the drifted sands of Hayle,

The home of many a fairy tale,

From far St. Ives old Richard came,

With pilchards laden for his dame.

Retarded by the burden’s weight,

He crossed the mystic Towyn late.

From cloudless skies a moon serene,

With silvery light illumined the scene ;

A deadened hell, with toll suppressed,

Alone disturbed the landscape’s rest ;

As up the hill his course he wound,

With wondering ears he caught the sound,

And when towards Lelant church he drew,

Bright lights within it gleamed to view.

Then nameless fears his heart assailed,

Yet hope inquisitive prevailed;

With cautious steps, with movement still,

He ventured towards a window sill,

Peeped in, and dazzled by the light,

Saw only, all within was bright.

At length, along the centre aisle,

With progress slow, in double file

He saw a long procession move

Through crowds impressed with sorrowing love.

Their tiny torches, slips of pine,

On all the fair, assembly shine,

And flowers of phosphorescent light

Cast radiance from the altar’s height.

No coffin, sable robes, or pal],

Obscured this fairy funeral.

They wreaths of ting roses wore,

And sprays of blossomed myrtle bore ;.

Six to the bier their shoulders pressed,

Whereon, attired in flowing vest,

A fairy lady, so minute

No human type her form might suit,

So fair, so exquisite, her face,

Our language fails to speak its grace ;

So lovely, in that sad display,

Like “ a dead seraph ” there she lay.

White flowers the little corpse o’erspread,

White blossoms wreathed the beauteous head,

And twined among the hair’s gold thread.

The bier approached the altar rail,

They rested it within the pale,

While close beneath that altar’s shade,

With many a pickaxe small, and spade,

A host of little sextons gave

Their toil to shape a little grave.

With all the reverence of love,

Then tenderest hands the corpse remove,

And fondest looks all thronging pressed

To see her, ere her latest rest.

The corpse was lowered, and off they tear

Their wreaths, and breaking in despair

Their flowery branches wildly spread,

And loudly wail, Our Queen is dead !

Our Queen is dead ! A sexton’s spade

Then dust on that fair body laid,—

And thrilling from the host arose

A shriek, so eloquent of woes,

That Richard, from his caution thrown,

Augments its clamour with his own.

That very instant all was rout,

And every fairy light went out.

Unknown