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.

THE CHURCH OF BALLYMORE.

I HAVE knelt in great cathedrals with their

wondrous naves and aisles,

Whose fairy arches blend and interlace,

Where the sunlight on the paintings like a ray

of glory smiles,

And the shadows seem to sanctify the place;

Where the organ’s tones, like echoes of an

angel’s trumpet roll,

Wafted down by seraph wings from heaven’s shore—

They are mighty and majestic, but they cannot

touch my soul

Like the little whitewashed church of

Ballymore.

Ah! modest little chapel, half-embowered in the

trees,

Though the roof above its worshippers was low,

And the earth bore traces sometimes of the

congregation’s knees,

While they themselves were bent with

toil and woe!

Milan, Cologne, St. Peter’s— by the feet of

monarchs trod—

With their monumental genius and their

lore,

Never knew in their magnificence

more trustful prayers to God

Than ascended to His throne from

Ballymore!

Its priest was plain and simple, and he scorned

to hide his brogue

In accents that we might not understand,

But there was not in the parish such a renegade

or rogue

As to think his words not heaven’s own

command!

He seemed our cares and troubles and our

sorrows to divide,

And he never passed the poorest peasant’s

door—

In sickness he was with us, and in death still by

our side—

God be with you, Father Tom, of Ballymore.

There’s a green graveyard behind it, and in

dreams at night I see

Each little modest slab and grassy mound;

For my gentle mother’s sleeping ’neath the

withered rowan tree,

And a host of kindly neighbours lie around!

The famine and the fever through our stricken

country spread,

Desolation was about me, sad and sore,

So I had to cross the waters, in strange lands to

seek my bread,

But I left my heart behind in Ballymore!

I am proud of our cathedrals— they are

emblems of our love

To an ever-mighty Benefactor shown;

And when wealth and art and beauty have

been given from above,

The devil should not have them as his own!

Their splendor has inspired me— but amidst it all

I prayed

God to grant me when life’s weary work is

o’er,

Sweet rest beside my mother in the dear

embracing shade

Of the little whitewashed church of

Ballymore!

A.M. Forrester