poetry

The Dream Of Those Days

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The dream of those days when first I sung thee is o’er
Thy triumph hath stain’d the charm thy sorrows then wore;
And even the light which Hope once shed o’er thy chains,
Alas, not a gleam to grace thy freedom remains.

Say, is it that slavery sunk so deep in thy heart,
That still the dark brand is there, though chainless thou art;
And Freedom’s sweet fruit, for which thy spirit long burn’d,
Now, reaching at last thy lip, to ashes hath turn’d?

Up Liberty’s steep by Truth and Eloquence led,
With eyes on her temple fix’d, how proud was thy tread!
Ah, better thou ne’er hadst lived that summit to gain,
Denied in the porch, than thus dishonour the fane.

 

– Thomas Moore

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Song Of The Evil Spirits Of The Woods

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Now the vapor, hot and damp,
Shed by day’s expiring lamp,
Through the misty ether spreads
Every ill the white man dreads;
Fiery fever’s thirsty thrill,
Fitful ague’s shivering chill!

Hark! I hear the traveller’s song,
As he winds the woods along;-
Christian, ’tis the song of fear;
Wolves are round thee, night is near,
And the wild thou dar’st to roam-
Think, ’twas once the Indian’s home!

Hither, sprites, who love to harm,
Wheresoe’er you work your charm,
By the creeks, or by the brakes,
Where the pale witch feeds her snakes,
And the cayman loves to creep,
Torpid, to his wintry sleep:
Where the bird of carrion flits,
And the shuddering murderer sits,
Lone beneath a roof of blood;
While upon his poisoned food,
From the corpse of him he slew
Drops the chill and gory dew.

Hither bend ye, turn ye hither,
Eyes that blast and wings that wither
Cross the wandering Christian’s way,
Lead him, ere the glimpse of day,
Many a mile of maddening error
Through the maze of night and terror,
Till the morn behold him lying
On the damp earth, pale and dying.
Mock him, when his eager sight
Seeks the cordial cottage-light;
Gleam then, like the lightning-bug,
Tempt him to the den that’s dug
For the foul and famished brood
Of the she wolf, gaunt for blood;
Or, unto the dangerous pass
O’er the deep and dark morass,
Where the trembling Indian brings
Belts of porcelain, pipes, and rings,
Tributes, to be hung in air,
To the Fiend presiding there!

Then, when night’s long labor past,
Wildered, faint, he falls at last,
Sinking where the causeway’s edge
Moulders in the slimy sedge,
There let every noxious thing
Trail its filth and fix its sting;
Let the bull-toad taint him over,
Round him let mosquitoes hover,
In his ears and eyeballs tingling,
With his blood their poison mingling,
Till, beneath the solar fires,
Rankling all, the wretch expires!

 

– Thomas Moore

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Irish Love Song

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Well, if the thing is over, better it is for me,
The lad was ever a rover, loving and laughing free,
Far too clever a lover not to be having still
A lass in the town and a lass by the road and a lass by the farther hill —
Love on the field and love on the path and love in the woody glen —
(Lad, will I never see you, never your face again?)

Ay, if the thing is ending, now I’ll be getting rest,
Saying my prayers and bending down to be stilled and blest,
Never the days are sending hope till my heart is sore
For a laugh on the path and a voice by the gate and a step
on the shieling floor —
Grief on my ways and grief on my work and grief till the evening’s dim —
(Lord, will I never hear it, never a sound of him?)

Sure if it’s done forever, better for me that’s wise,
Never the hurt, and never tears in my aching eyes,
No more the trouble ever to hide from my asking folk
Beat of my heart at click o’ the latch, and throb if his name is spoke;
Never the need to hide the sighs and the flushing thoughts and the fret,
And after awhile my heart will hush and my hungering hands forget . . .
Peace on my ways, and peace in my step, and maybe my heart grown light —
(Mary, helper of heartbreak, send him to me to-night!)

 

– Margaret Widdemer

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Irish Whiskey

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Mourning a lost love,
At a table for two.
With a bottle of whiskey,
Keeping him blue.

No consoling words,
Does he want to hear.
He just thinks of her face,
And that brings the tears.

Maybe by drinking,
He can forget.
Not knowing that drinking,
Keeps her in his head.

In the morning he’ll rise,
And start once again.
Drinking Irish Whiskey.
That eases his pain.

 

– Juan Olivarez

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22nd May – On This Day In History

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Born:

1813 Richard Wagner (composer)

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Died:

1972 Cecil Day Lewis (poet)

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On This Day:

1933 Reported first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster

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Have a good Tuesday, 22nd May

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An Irish Word

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Canny has always been an Irish word
to my ear, so too its cousin crafty,
suggesting not only an appreciation of close-work,
fine-making, handwrought artistry,

but a highly evolved reliance on one’s wits to survive,
stealth in the shadow of repressive institutions,
“silence, exile, and cunning,” in Joyce’s admonition,
ferret-sly, fox-quick, silvery, and elusive.

Craft, akin to croft—
a shepherd’s crooked hawthorn staff,
wind-polished wolds and peat-spent moorlands
high in the Blue Stack Mountains.

Akin to draught—a pint of creamy stout
or a good stout draught horse
or a draughty old house
like the one in which my grandfather was born

near Drimnaherk, slate-roofed, hard-angled,
ringed by thistles in a soil-starved coomb.
His four brothers left home
bound for Australia, South Africa, Liverpool, and Los Angeles

losing track of each other at once and forever
as if to loose the hawsers and set sail
were to sever every filial tether.
His name was Francis Daniel Campbell

but my grandmother Anna was a Monaghan
and her people had been
Maguires, Morans, Mohans, Meehans,
and other alliterative, slant-rhymed clans

all the way back to the nameless
bog dwellers and kine folk.
When her father died suddenly in New York,
he left three baby daughters and a widowed seamstress

with no recourse but retreat
to the old Rose Cottage overlooking Donegal Bay
in a parish of trellised thorns and ricked hay,
taking in mending and needlework to eat.

Market days they rode the train into Derry
to sell embroidered linens and hand-tatted lace,
kerchiefs monogrammed z to a.
She was nearing thirty

when she married and recrossed the Atlantic
and from her my own mother
had a recipe for soda bread, piles of drop-stitch
tablecloths, and a small stoneware pitcher

hand-painted in folksy script—
Be Canny Wi’ the Cream.
Nothing could move my brother and I to screams
of laughter like that tiny pitcher,

so serious of purpose, so quaintly archaic,
as we slurped down bowls of Frosted Flakes
before school in the breakfast nook.
The scrupulous economy of the world it bespoke,

the frugality toward which it gestured,
were as inscrutable to us then
as the great sea cliffs at Slieve League when
we drove to the top at Amharc Mór

on a road so thickly fleeced with mist
we might have been lost if not for the sheep
materializing like guardian imps,
imperturbable creatures, black-faced ephreets,

the ocean one vast, invisible gong
struck by padded mallets or mailed fists.
Amharc Mór means “the grand view” in Irish
but all we saw was fog.

 

– Campbell McGrath

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21st May – On This Day In History

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Born:

1688 Alexander Pope (poet)

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Died:

2000 Sir John Gielgud (actor)

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On This Day:

1927 Charles Lindbergh lands in Paris in The Spirit Of St Louis after making the first solo air crossing of the Atlantic

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Have a good Monday, 21st May

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