The Bride

An Irish Poem

The bridal veil hangs o’er her brow;

The ring of gold is on her finger;

Her lips have breathed the marriage vow.

Why should she at the altar linger?

Why wears her gentle brow a shade?

Why dim her eye, when doubt is over?

Why does her slender form for aid

Lean tremblingly upon her lover?

Is it feeling of regret

For solemn vows lately spoken ?

fear, scarce own’d as yet.

That her new ties may soon broken ?

Ah, no! such causes darken not

The cloud that’s swiftly passing o’er her,

Her’s is a fair and happy lot

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!

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

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

The Mountain Walk

By and Unknown Irish Poet

From the haunts of busy life,

Homes of care, and paths of strife,

Up the breezy mountain way,

’Mid the upper fields of day,

Let me wander, far and lonely,

Without guide, save nature only;

And still ever as I go, Lose all thought of things below,

Cast all sorrow to the wind,

While the low vales sink behind:

Fetterless and spirit free

As the merry mountain bee.

Like a spirit, thought and eye

Buoyant between earth and sky,

There to bask in free pure light

On the joyous mountain height;

Dallying with the breeze and shower,

Claiming kin with every flower,

Catching iris dreams that glance

On the breath of circumstance.

Changing with the changeful scene—

Solemn, sombre, gay, serene:

As each change fresh wonders bring,

Weaving thought from every thing.

Oft let shadowy hollows fall,

And grey cliffs’ embattled wall

Crown the gloom with hoary height,

Where the raven wheels his flight.

Or green vale unfolding soft,

In the lonesome crags aloft

Shut the far down world from view.

There, long up ether’s darkening blue,

The eye may gaze for worlds unseen,

In the skyey void serene,

And weave visions strange and fair,

Of the starry empires there—

Spirits changeless, pure, and bright,

In their glorious vales of light;

Till some wild note break the spell

From sequester’d rural dell

Where the mountain goatherds dwell:

So to break the wild fond dream,

And to man bring down the theme;

For all earthly things impart

Thoughts of Man to human heart.

Then from towery crag on high,

If far city win the eye,

Glittering through the misty air,

’Twere a prospect meet and fair

For the lone sequestered gaze

O’er its wide uncertain maze,

Then to muse on wealth and fame,

And on every specious name

That gilds the dross of earth below,

Till, from reflection, wisdom grow.

Wisdom:—not that sense which cleaveth

To the world where all deceiveth;

Not grave prudence, hard, yet hollow—

In the beaten round to follow

Lengthened aims, in life’s short day,

While the ages glide away:

—But that moral, old and sage,

Said and sung in every age;

Old as man—yet ever new,

Heard by all, and known to few;

Murmur of Being’s wave, that still,

Unheeded as the babbling rill,

In the world’s noise, makes music only

’Midst the hush of deserts lonely.

Last, from o’er the seaward steep,

Let me view the spacious deep,

While the billows break and flow

In the caverned gloom below.

There let cloud and sunbeam flee

O’er the sunned and shadowy sea—

Light and dark in fleeting strife,

Like the vanities of life;

So to dream of joy and woe,

Imaged in the gliding show,

As they come, and as they fly,

To the verge of sea and sky;

So our joys and sorrows flee,

Onward to eternity.

Then away in spirit wrought

By the voluntary thought,

Where the heath is freshly springing,

Where the sky-borne lark is clinging

On mid air with lively song,

Which the echoing cliffs prolong;

O’er wild steep and dreamy hollow,

On, still onward let me follow.

While the airy morn is bright,

While rich noon is at its height,

Till eve falls with sober grey,

Freely let me roam away.