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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
AT LOS ANGELES 




The Writings of 
"FIONA MACLEOD 



> » 



UNIFORM EDITION 



ARRANGED BY 

MRS. WILLIAM SHARP 



% 



Poems 

and 

Dramas 



BY 

''FIONA MACLEOD" 

(WILLIAM SHARP) 




NEW YORK 

DUFFIELD & COMPANY 

igri 



Copyright, 1901, 1903, 1907, by 
THOMAS B. MOSHER 



Copyright, 1910, by 
DUFFIELD & COMPANY 






THE TROW PRESS, NEW YORK 



£3 SO 

v.. 7 



FROM THE HILLS OF 
DREAM 

THRENODIES, SONGS AND 
OTHER POEMS 



200457 



'As Love on buried ecstasy huildeth his tower.'" 

Robert Bridges. 



TO A MEMORY 

THE HILLS OF DREAM 
St. John's Eve 1901 

There has been twilight here, since one whom some 
name Life and some Death slid between us the little 
shadow that is the unfathomable dark and silence. In 
a grave deeper than is hollowed under the windsweet 
grass lies that which was so passing fair. 

Who plays the Song of Songs upon the Hills of 
Dream.? It is said Love is that reed-player, for 
there is no song like his. 

But to-day I saw one, on these dim garths of shadow 
and silence, who put a reed to his lips and played a 
white spell of beauty. Then I knew Love and Death 
to be one, as in the old myth of Oengus of the White 
Birds and the Grey Shadows. 

Here are the broken airs that once you loved. . . . 

' ' The fable- flowering land wherein they grew 
Hath dreams for stars, and grey romance for dew." 

They are but the breath of what has been: only are 
they for this, that they do the will of beauty and regret. 



"The great winding sheets that bury all things in 
oblivion, are two: Love, that makes oblivious of Life; 
and Death, that obliterates Love." 

' ' Was it because I desired thee darkly, that thou 
could'st not know the white spell? Or was it that the 
white spell could not reach thy darkness? One god 
debaieth this: and another god answereth this: but one 
god knoweth it. With him be the issue." 

AN LEABHAR bXn. 

{The Book of White Magic.) 

"My wisdom became pregnant on lonely mountains; 
upon rugged stones she bore her young. 

"Now she runneth strangely through the hard desert 

and seeketh, and ever seeketh for soft grass, mine own 

old wisdom." 

Nietzsche. 



CONTENTS 



The signs ♦ and o relate to dates of publication. See 
Bibliographical Note. 



POEMS 

PACE 

From the Hills of Dream 17 

White Star of Time 18 

Eilidh my Fawn 0.19 

Thy Dark Eyes to Mine 20 

Green Branches 21 

Shule, Shule, Shule, Agrah! . . . . 22 

Lord of my Life . 24 

The Lonely Hunter 26 

° Cor Cordium 28 

The Rose of Flame 29 

Isla 31 

An Immortal 32 

The Vision 33 

Pulse of my Heart 34 

Mo-Lennav-a-Chree 36 

Hushing Song 38 

My Birdeen 39 

Lullaby 4° 

The Bugles of Dreamland 42 

Morag of the Glen 44 

The Hills of Ruel 45 

9 



Contents 



Sheiling Song 

° The Bandruidh 

The Moon-Child . . 

The Rune of the Four Winds 

° Dream Fantasy , 

Mater Consolatrix 



PAGE 

48 

49 
50 

52 
54 
56 



CLOSING DOORS 

At the Last 60 

In the Shadow 61 

The Star of Beauty 63 

An Old Tale of Three 64 

The Burthen of the Tide 66 

When the Dew is Falling 68 

° The Voice Among the Dunes .... 69 

The Undersong ....... 70 

Dead Love 71 

The Soul's Armageddon 72 

° Day and Night 73 

The White Peace 74 

° The Lost Star ....... 75 

The Rune of Age 76 

Miann 79 

Desire 79 



FROM THE HEART OF A WOMAN 

The Prayer of Women .... 83 

The Rune of the Passion of Woman . . 86 

The Rune of the Sorrow of Women . . . 92 

The Shepherd 97 

10 



Contents 



FOAM OF THE PAST 



Dedication 



PAGE 



Leaves, Shadows, and Dreams 
The Lament of Ian the Proud 

° Deirdre is Dead 

Heart o' Beauty 

The Monody of Isla the Singer . 

White-Hands 

° The Desire and the Lamentation of Coel 

Dalua 

The Song of Fionula .... 
° The Song of Aeifa .... 
The Sorrow of the House of Lir . 

* The Chant of Ardan the Pict . 
The Lamentation of Balva the Monk . 
The Last Night of Artan the Culdee 
Oona of the Dark Eyes and the Crying of 
° The Love-Song of Drostan 
The Cup ...... 

* The Love-Chant of Cormac Conhngas 

* The Death-Dirge for Cathal 

* The Death Dance 

* The End of Aodh-of-the-Songs . 
The Lament of Darthool 
The Love- Kiss of Dermid and Grainne 
The Tryst of Queen Hynde . 
The Song of Ahez the Pale . 
° * The War-Song of the Vikings 
The Crimson ]\Ioon 

* The Washer of the Ford . 
Tiie Mourners .... 

II 



Wind 



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59 
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Contents 



II 





PAGE 


* Milking Sian ..... 


. . i6s 


* The Kye-Song of St. Bride 


. i66 


* St. Bride's Lullaby .... 


. i68 


° * The Bird of Christ .... 


. 170 


** The Meditation of Colum , 


. 172 


° St. Christopher of the Gael 


. 174 


° The Cross of the Dumb 


. 189 


Naoi Miannain 


• 197 



THROUGH THE IVORY GATE 

The Secret Dews 201 

The Enchanted Valleys 202 

The Valley of White Poppies . . . .203 

The Valley of Silence 204 

Dream Meadows 205 

Grey Pastures 207 

Longing 208 

The Singer in the Woods 209 

By the Grey Stone 211 

The Valley of Pale Blue Flowers . . .213 

Remembrance 215 

The Veiled Avenger 216 

The Bells of Sorrow 218 

The Unknown Wind 220 

Cantilena Mundi 221 

Little Children of the Wind . . . .222 

In the Silences of the Woods . . . .223 

° In the Night 224 

The Lords of Shadow 225 

Invocation of Peace 227 

12 



Contents 
THE DIRGE OF THE FOUR CITIES 

PAGE 

The Dirge of the Four Cities . . . .231 
Finias . . . . . . . . » 233 

Falias 234 

Gorias 236 

Murias 238 

THE HOUR OF BEAUTY 

Dim Face of Beauty 243 

Dreams within Dreams 244 

A Cry on the Wind 245 

Vale, Amor ! 248 

Flame on the Wind 249 

The Rose of the Night . . . . . .251 

I-Brasil 252 

Love and Sorrow 253 

Song-in-My-Heart 254 

Mo Bron! 256 

Sorrow 257 

The Founts of Song 259 

On a Redbreast Singing at the Grave of Plato 262 
The Bells of Youth ...... 265 

Song of Apple -Trees 267 

R6seen-Dhu . .• 269 

The Shrewmouse 271 

The Last Fay 272 

The Dirge of "Clan Siubhail" . . . .274 

The Exile ' . . .275 

The Shadow 276 

Oran-Bhroin 27 S 

At the Coming of the Wild Swans . . .280 
The Weaver of Snow 282 

13 



Contents 

PAGE 

A Song of Dreams . . ... 283 

Easter ... 284 

When There is Peace 285 

Time 286 

Invocation 287 

The Secret Gate 289 

The Mystic's Prayer 291 



DRAMAS 

Foreword 297 

The Immortal Hour 3^5 

The House of Usna 397 

BibUographical Note by Mrs. William Sharp . 451 
To "Fiona Macleod," Sonnet by Alfred Noyes. 457 



14 



POEMS 



FROM THE HILLS OF DREAM 

' / would not find; 

For when I find, I know 
I shall have claspt the wandering wind 

And built a house of snow." 



FROM THE HILLS OF DREAM 

Across the silent stream 

Where the sUimber-shadows go, 
From the dim blue Hills of Dream 

I have heard the west wind blow. 

Who hath seen that fragrant land, 
Who hath seen that unscanned west ? 

Only the listless hand 

And the unpulsing breast. 

But when the west wind blows 

I see moon-lances gleam 
Where the Host of Faerie flows 

Athwart the Hills of Dream. 

And a strange song I have heard 

By a shadowy stream, 
And the singing of a snow-white bird 

On the Hills of Dream. 



17 



WHITE STAR OF TIME 

Each love-thought in thy mind doth rise 
As some white cloud at even, 

Till in sweet dews it falls on me 
Athirst for thee, my Heaven! 

My Heaven, my Heaven, thou art so far ! 

Stoop, since I cannot climb : 
I would this wandering fire were lost 

In thee, white Star of Time ! 



i8 



EILIDH MY FAWN 

Far away upon the hills at the lighting of the 

dawn 
I saw a stirring in the fern and out there leapt 

a fawn : 
And O my heart was up at that and like the 

wind it blew 
Till its shadow hovered o'er the fawn as 'mid 

the fern it flew. 

And Eilidh ! Eilidh ! Eilidh ! was the wind song 

on the hill, 
And Eilidh ! Eilidh ! Eilidh ! did the echoing 

corries fill : 
My hunting heart was glad indeed, at the 

lighting of the dawn, 
For O it was the hunting then of my bonnie, 

bonnie Fawn ! 



19 



THY DARK EYES TO MINE 

Thy dark eyes to mine, Eilidh, 

Lamps of desire ! 
O how my soul leaps 

Leaps to their fire ! 

Sure, now, if I in heaven. 

Dreaming in bliss, 
Heard but a whisper, 
But the lost echo even 

Of one such kiss — 

All of the Soul of me 

Would leap afar — 
If that called me to thee 
Aye, I would leap afar 

A falling star ! 



20 



GREEN BRANCHES 

Wave, wave, green branches, wave me far 
away 

To where the forest deepens and the hill- 
winds, sleeping, stay : 

Where Peace doth fold her twilight wings, and 
through the heart of day 

There goes the rumour of passing hours grown 
faint and grey. 

Wave, wave, green branches, my heart like a 

bird doth hover 
Above the nesting-place your green-gloom 

shadows cover : 
O come to my nesting heart, come close, come 

close, bend over, 
Joy of my heart, my life, my prince, my lover ! 



21 



SHULE, SHULE, SHULE, AGRAH!^ 

His face was glad as dawn to me, 
His breath was sweet as dusk to me, 
His eyes were burning flames to me, 
Shule, Shule, Shule, agrah ! 

The broad noon-day was night to me, 
The full-moon night was dark to me, 
The stars whirled and the poles span 
The hour God took him far from me. 

Perhaps he dreams in heaven now. 
Perhaps he doth in worship bow, 
A white flame round his foam-white brow, 
Shule, Shule, Shule, agrah! 

I laugh to think of him like this. 
Who once found all his joy and bliss 
Against my heart, against my kiss, 
Shule, Shule, Shule, agrah! 

' I do not give the correct spelling of the Gaelic. 
The line signifies "Move, move, move to me, my 
Heart's Love." 

22 



Shiile, Shule, Shule, Agrah! 

Star of my joy, art still the same 
Now thou hast gotten a new name? 
Pulse of my heart, my Blood, my Flame, 
Shule, Shule, Shule, agrah ! 



23 



LORD OF MY LIFE 

He laid his dear face next to mine, 
His eyes aflame burned close to mine, 
His heart to mine, his lips to mine, 
O he was mine, all mine, all mine. 

Drunk with old wine of love I was, 
Drunk as the wild bee in the grass : 
Yea, as the wild bee in the grass, 
Drunk, drunk, with wine of love I was ! 

His lips of life to me were fief. 
Beneath him I was but a leaf 
Blown by the wind, a shaken leaf. 
Yea, as the sickle reaps the sheaf, 

My Grief! 
He reaped me as a gathered sheaf ! 

His to be gathered, his the bliss. 
But not a greater bliss than this ! 
All of the empty world to miss 
For wild redemption of his kiss! 

My Grief! 

24 



Lord of my Life 

For hell was lost, though heaven was brief 
Sphered in the universe of thy kiss — 
So cries to thee thy fallen leaf, 
Thy gathered sheaf, 
Lord of my life, my Pride, my Chief, 

My Grief! 



25 



THE LONELY HUNTER 

Green branches, green branches, I see you 

beckon ; I follow ! 
Sweet is the place you guard, there in the 

rowan-tree hollow. 
There he lies in the darkness, under the frail 

white flowers. 
Heedless at last, in the silence, of these sweet 

midsummer hours. 

But sweeter, it may be, the moss whereon he 

is sleeping now. 
And sweeter the fragrant flowers that may 

crown his moon-white brow : 
And sweeter the shady place deep in an Eden 

hollow 
Wherein he dreams I am with him — and, 

dreaming, whispers, " Follow ! " 

Green wind from the green-gold branches, 

what is the song you bring? 
What are all songs for me, now, who no more 

care to sing? 

26 



The Lonely Hunter 

Deep in the heart of Summer, sweet is Hfe to 

me still, 
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on 

a lonely hill. 

Green is that hill and lonely, set far in a 
shadowy place; 

White is the hunter's quarry, a lost-loved hu- 
man face : 

O hunting heart, shall you find it, with arrow 
of failing breath. 

Led o'er a green hill lonely by the shadowy 
hound of Death? 

Green branches, green branches, you sing of 
a sorrow olden. 

But now it is midsummer weather, earth- 
young, sunripe, golden : 

Here I stand and I wait, here in the rowan- 
tree hollow, 

But never a green leaf whispers, " Follow, oh. 
Follow, Follow ! " 

O never a green leaf whispers, where the 

green-gold branches swing: 
O never a song I hear now, where one was 

wont to sing 
Here in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to 

me still. 
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on 

a lonely hill. 



COR CORDIUM 

Sweet Heart, true heart, strong heart, star of 
my Hfe, oh, never 

For thee the lowered banner, the lost en- 
deavour ! 

The weapons are still unforged that thee and 
me shall dissever, 

For I in thy heart have dwelling, and thou 
hast in mine for ever. 

Can a silken cord strangle love, or a steel 
sword sever? 

Or be as a bruised reed, the flow'r of joy for 
ever ? 

Love is a beautiful dream, a deathless en- 
deavour. 

And for thee the lowered banner, O Sweet 
Heart never! 



28 



THE ROSE OF FLAME 

Oh, fair immaculate rose of the world, rose 

of my dream, my Rose! 
Beyond the ultimate gates of dream I have 

heard thy mystical call : 
It is where the rainbow of hope suspends and 

the river of rapture flows — 
And the cool sweet dews from the wells of 

peace for ever fall. 

And all my heart is aflame because of the rap- 
ture and peace. 

And I dream, in my waking dreams and deep 
in the dreams of sleep, 

Till the high sweet wonderful call that shall 
be the call of release 

Shall ring in my ears as I sink from gulf to 
gulf and from deep to deep 

Sink deep, sink deep beyond the ultimate 
dreams of all desire — 

Beyond the uttermost limit of all that the crav- 
ing spirit knows: 

29 



The Rose of Flame 

Then, then, oh then I shall be as the inner 

flame of thy fire, 
O fair immaculate rose of the world, Rose of 

my dream, my Rose ! 



30 



ISLA 

Isla, Isia, heart of my heart, it is you alone I 

am loving — 
Pulse my life, my flame, my joy, love is a 

bitter thing! 
Love has its killing pain, they say — and you 

alone I am loving — 
Isla, Isla, my pride, my king, love is a bitter 

thing ! 

Isla, Isla, in the underworld where the elfin 

music is, 
There we shall meet one day at last, as the 

wave with the wind o' the south ! 
Then you shall cry, " My Dream, my Queen ! " 

and crown me with your kiss. 
And I to my Kingdom come, my king, my 

mouth to thy mouth ! 



31 



AN IMMORTAL 

"For a mortal love an Immortal may be shapen." 

Child of no mortal birth, that yet doth live, 
Where loiterest thou, O blossom of our joy? 
Unsummon'd hence, dost thou, knowing all, 

forgive ? 
Thy rainbow-rapture, doth it never cloy? 
O exquisite dream, dear child of our desire, 
On mounting wings flitt'st thou afar from 

here? 
We cannot reach thee who dost never tire, 
Sweet phantom of delight, appear, appear! 
How lovely thou must be, wrought in strange 

fashion 
From out the very breath and soul of pas- 
sion . . . 
With eyes as proud as his, my lover, thy sire, 
When seeking through the twilight of my hair 
He finds the suddenly secret flame deep hid- 
den there. 
Twin torches flashing into fire. 



32 



THE VISION 

In a fair place 

Of whin and grass, 
I heard feet pass 
Where no one was. 

I saw a face 

Bloom like a flower — 

Nay, as the rain-bow shower 
Of a tempestuous hour. 

It was not man, nor woman : 
It was not human : 
But, beautiful and wild 
Terribly undefiled, 
I knew an unborn child. 



33 



PULSE OF MY HEART 

Are these your eyes, Isla, 
That look into mine? 

Is this smile, this laugh, 
Thine ? 

Heart of me, dear, 

O pulse of my heart, 
This is our child, our child — 

And ... we apart ! 

Wrought of thy life, Isla, 
Wrought in my womb, 

Never to feel thy kiss ! — 
Ah, bitter doom. 

Hush, hush: within thine eyes 

His eyes I see . . . 
Soft as a bird's sighs 
Thy breathings rise! . . . 
If there be Paradise 
For him and me 

(Who hold it but a dream 
Because of bitter fate) 
The first supernal gleam 

34 



Pulse of my Heart 

Beyond the flame-swept gate 
Shall be thine eyes when thou drawest near- 
None other shall it be 
Who his lost hands, with mine, and thine 
In love refound, shall intertwine . . . 
But now, alas, alas, we are far apart, 
My baby dear. 

Pulse of my Heart! 



35 



MO-LENNAV-A-CHREE 

Eilidh, Eilidh, Eilidh, dear to me, dear and 

sweet, 
In dreams I am hearing the sound of your Ht- 

tle running feet — 
The sound of your running feet that Hke the 

sea-hoofs beat 
A music by day an' night, EiHdh, on the 

sands of my heart, my Sweet ! 

Eilidh, bhie i' the eyes, flower-sweet as chil- 
dren are, 

And white as the canna that blows with the 
hill-breast wind afar, 

Whose is the light in thine eyes — the light of 
a star? — a star 

That sitteth supreme where the starry lights 
of heaven a glory are ! 

Eilidh, Eilidh, Eilidh, put off your wee hands 

from the heart o' me. 
It is pain they are making there, where no 

more pain should be : 

36 



Mo-Lennav-a-Chree 

For little running feet, an' wee white hands, 

an' croodlin' as of the sea, 
Bring tears to my eyes, Eilidh, tears, tears, out 
of the heart o' me — 

Mo-lennav-a-chree, 
Mo-lennav-a-chree ! 



37 



200457 



HUSHING SONG 

Eilidh, Eilidh, 

My bonny wee lass : 
The winds blow, 

And the hours pass. 

But never a wind 
Can do thee wrong, 

Brown Birdeen, singing 
Thy bird-heart song. 

And never an hour 
But has for thee 

Blue of the heaven 
And green of the sea : 

Blue for the hope of thee, 

Eilidh, Eilidh ; 
Green for the joy of thee, 

EiHdh, Eilidh. 

Swing in they nest, then, 
Here on my heart, 
Birdeen, Birdeen, 
Here on my heart. 
Here on my heart ! 

38 



MY BIRDEEN 

On bonnie birdeen, 

Sweet-bird of my heart — 
Tell me, my dear one, 

How shall we part ? 

He calls me, he cries 
Who is father to thee : 

O birdeen, his eyes 

In these blue eyes I see. 

Thou art wrought of our love, 
Of our joy that was slain: 

My birdeen, my dove, 
My passion, my pain. 



39 



LULLABY 
Lennavan-mo, 
Lenna van-mo, 

Who is it swinging you to and fro, 
With a long low swing and a sweet low croon, 
And the loving words of the mother's rune? 

Lennavan-mo, 

Lennavan-mo, 

Who is it swinging you to and fro ? 

I am thinking it is an angel fair, 

The Angel that looks on the gulf from the 

lowest stair 
And swings the green world upward by its 

leagues of sunshine hair. 

Lennavan-mo, 

Lennavan-mo, 

Who swingeth you and the Angel to and fro ? 

It is He whose faintest thought is a world afar, 

It is He whose wish is a leaping seven-moon'd 

star, 
It is He, Lennavan-mo, 
To whom you and I and all things flow. 

40 



Lullaby 

Lennavan-mo, 
Lennavan-mo, 
It is only a little wee lass you are, Eilidh-mo- 

chree, 
But as this wee blossom has roots in the depths 

of the sky, 
So you are at one with the Lord of Eternity — 
Bonnie wee lass that you are. 
My morning-star, 
Eilidh-mo-chree, Lennavan-mo, 
Lennavan-mo. 



41 



f 

THE BUGLES OF DREAMLAND 

Swiftly the dews of the gloaming are falling: 

Faintly the bugles of Dreamland are calling. 

O hearken, my darling, the elf-flutes are 

blowing 
The shining-eyed folk from the hillside are 

flowing, 
r the moonshine the wild-apple blossoms are 

, snowing, 
And louder and louder where the white dews 

are falling 
The far-away bugles of Dreamland are call- 
ing. 

O what are the bugles of Dreamland calling 
There where the dews of the gloaming are 
falling? 
Come away from the weary old world of 

tears, 
Come away, come away to where one never 

hears 
The slow weary drip of the slow weary 
years, 



The Bugles of Dreamland 

But peace and deep rest till the white dews 

are falling 
And the blithe bugle-laughters through 

Dreamland are calling. 

Then bugle for us, where the cool dews are 

falling, 
O bugle for us, wild elf-flutes now calling — 
For Heart's-love and I are too weary to wait 
For the dim drowsy whisper that cometh 

too late. 
The dim muffled whisper of blind empty 

fate— 
O the world's well lost now the dream-dews 

are falling. 
And the bugles of Dreamland about us are 

calling. 



43 



MORAG OF THE GLEN 

When Morag of the Glen was fey 

They took her where the Green Folk stray: 

And there they left her, night and day, 

A day and night they left her, fey. 

And when they brought her home again, 
Aye of the Green Folk was she fain : 
They brought her leannan, Roy M'Lean, 
She looked at him with proud disdain. 

For I have killed a man, she said, 
A better man than you to wed : 
I slew him when he clasped my head. 
And now he sleepeth with the dead. 

And did you see that little wren? 
My sister dear it was flew, then ! 
That skull her home, that eye her den, 
Her song is Morag o' the Glen! 

For when she went I did not go, 
But washed my hands in blood-red woe ,* 
O wren, trill out your sweet song's flow 
Morag is white as the driven snow! 

44 



THE HILLS OF RUEL 

" Over the hills and far away " — 
That is the tune I heard one day 
When heather-drowsy I lay and listened 
And watched where the stealthy sea-tide glis- 
tened. 

Beside me there on the Hills of Ruel 
An old man stooped and gathered fuel — 
And I asked him this : if his son were dead, 
As the folk in Glendaruel all said, 
How could he still believe that never 
Duncan had crossed the shadowy river. 

Forth from his breast the old man drew 
A lute that once on a rowan-tree grew : 
And, speaking no words, began to play 
" Over the hills and far away." 

" But how do you know," I said, thereafter, 
"That Duncan has heard the fairy laughter? 
How do you know he has followed the cruel 
Honey-sweet folk of the Hills of Ruel?" 

45 



The Hills of Ruel 

" How do I know? " the old man said, 
" Sure I know well my boy's not dead : 
For late on the morrow they hid him, there 
Where the black earth moistens his yellow hair, 
I saw him alow on the moor close by, 
I watched him low on the hillside lie, 
An' I heard him laughin' wild up there. 
An' talk, talk, talkin' beneath his hair — 
For down o'er his face his long hair lay 
But I saw it was cold and ashy grey. 

Aye, laughin' and talkin' wild he was, 
An' that to a Shadow out on the grass, 
A Shadow that made my blood go chill, 
For never its like have I seen on the hill. 
An' the moon came up, and the stars grew 

white, 
An' the hills grew black in the bloom o' the 

night, 
An' I watched till the death-star sank in the 

moon 
And the moonmaid fled with her flittermice 

shoon, 
Then the Shadow that lay on the moorside 

there 
Rose up and shook its wildmoss hair. 
And Duncan he laughed no more, but grey 
As the rainy dust of a rainy day. 
Went over the hills and far away." 

46 



The Hills of Ruel 

" Over the hills and far away " 
That is the tune I heard one day. 
O that I too might hear the cruel 
Honey-sweet folk of the Hills of Ruel. 



47 



SHEILING SONG 

I go where the sheep go, 
With the sheep are my feet : 

I go where the kye go, 
Their breath is so sweet : 

O lover who loves me, 

Art thou half so fleet? 
Where the sheep climb, the kye go, 

There shall we meet ! 



48 



THE BANDRUIDH^ 

My robe is of green, 

My crown is of stars — 
The grass is the green 

And the daisies the stars : 
O'er lochan and streamlet 

My breath moveth sweet . . . 
Bonnie blue lochans, 

Hillwaters fleet. 

The song in my heart 

Is the song of the birds,- 
And the wind in my heart 

Is the lowing of herds : 
The light in my eyes, 

And the breath of my mouth, 
!Are the clouds of spring-skies 

And the sound of the South. 

(The Airs of Spring) 

Grass-green from thy mouth 
The sweet sound of the South ! 

' The Bandruidh — lit. the Druidess, i. e. the Sor- 
ceress: poetically, the Green Lady, i.e. Spring. 

49 



THE MOON-CHILD 

A little lonely child am I 

That have not any soul : 
God made me as the homeless wave, 

That has no goal. 

A seal my father was, a seal 

That once was man : 
My mother loved him tho' he was 

'Neath mortal ban. 

He took a wave and drowned her. 
She took a wave and lifted him : 

And I was born where shadows are 
In sea-depths dim. 

All through the sunny blue-sweet hours 
I swim and glide in waters green : 

Never by day the mournful shores 
By me are seen. 

But when the gloom is on the wave 
A shell unto the shore I bring: 

And then upon the rocks I sit 
And plaintive sing. 

50 



The Moon-Child 



I have no playmate but the tide 
The seaweed loves with dark brown eyes 

The night-waves have the stars for play, 
For me but sighs. 



51 



THE RUNE OF THE FOUR WINDS 

By the Voice in the corries 
When the Polestar danceth : 

By the Voice on the summits 
The dead feet know : 

By the soft wet cry 

When the Heat-star troubleth : 

By the plaining and moaning 
Of the Sigh of the Rainbows : 

By the four white winds of the world, 
Whose father the golden Sun is, 
Whose mother the wheeling Moon is. 
The North and the South and the East and 

the West: 
By the four good winds of the world, 
That Man knoweth. 
That One dreadeth. 
That God blesseth — 

Be all well 

On mountain and moorland and lea. 
On loch-face and lochan and river. 

On shore and shallow and sea ! 

52 



The Rune of the Four Winds 

By the Voice of the Hollow 
Where the worm dwelleth : 



By the Voice of the Hollow 
Where the sea-wave stirs not: 

By the Voice of the Hollow 
That sun hath not seen yet: 

By the three dark winds of the world ; 
The chill dull breath of the Grave, 
The breath from the depths of the Sea, 
The breath of To-morrow : 
By the white and dark winds of the world, 
The four and the three that are seven, 
That Man knoweth, 
That One dreadeth. 
That God blesseth — 

Be all well 

On mountain and moorland and lea, 
On loch-face and lochan and river, 

On shore and shallow and sea ! 



53 



DREAM FANTASY 

"7/ Death Sleep's brother be, 
And souls bereft of sense have so sweet dreams. 
How could I wish thus still to dream and die! 

{Madrigal) 
William Drummond of Hawthornden. 

There is a land of Dream ; 
I have trodden its golden ways : 
I have seen its amber light 
From the heart of its sun-swept days ; 
I have seen its moonshine white 
On its silent waters gleam — 
Ah, the strange sweet lonely delight 
Of the Valleys of Dream. 

Ah, in that Land of Dream, 
The mystical moon-white land, 
Comes from what unknown sea — 
Adream on what unknown strand — 
A sound as of feet that flee, 
As of multitudes that stream 
From the shores of that shadowy sea 
Through the Valleys of Dream. 

54 



Dream Fantasy 

It is dark in the Land of Dream. 

There is silence in all the Land. 

Are the dead all gathered there — 

In havens, by no breath fanned? 

This stir i' the dawn, this chill wan air — 

This faint dim yellow of morning-gleam- 

O is this sleep, or waking where 

Lie hush'd the Valleys of Dream? 



55 



MATER CONSOLATRIX 

Heart's-joy must fade . . . though it borrow 

Heaven's azure for its clay : 
But the Joy that is one with Sorrow, 

Treads an immortal way: 
For each, is born To-morrow, 

For each, is Yesterday. 

Joy that is clothed with shadow 

Shall arise from the dead : 
But Joy that is clothed with the rainbow 

Shall with the bow be sped : . . . 
Where the Sun spends his fires is she, 

And where the Stars are led. 



56 



CLOSING DOORS 



CLOSING DOORS 

O sands of my heart, what wind moans low 
along thy shadowy shore? 

Is that the deep sea-heart I hear with the dying 
sob at its core? 

Each dim lost wave that lapses is like a clos- 
ing door : 

'Tis closing doors they hear at last who soon 
shall hear no more. 

Who soon shall hear no more. 

Eilidh, Eilidh, Eilidh, call low, come back, call 
low to me : 

My heart you have broken, your troth for- 
saken, but love even yet can be : 

Come near, call low, for closing doors are as 
the waves o' the sea, 

Once closed they are closed for ever, Eilidh, 
lost, lost, for thee and me. 

Lost, lost, for thee and me. 



59 



I 



AT THE LAST 

She Cometh no more : 
Time, too, is dead. 
The last tide is led 
From the last shore. 
Eternity . . . 
What is Eternity? 
But the sea coming. 
The sea going, 
For evermore. 



60 



IN THE SHADOW 

O she will have the deep dark heart, for all 

her face is fair ; 
As deep and dark as though beneath the 

shadow of her hair: 
For in her hair a spirit dwells that no white 

spirit is, 
And hell is in the hopeless heaven of that lost 

spirit's kiss. 

She has two men within the palm, the hollow 

of her hand : 
She takes their souls and blows them forth 

as idle drifted sand : 
And one falls back upon her breast that is his 

quiet home, 
And one goes out into the night and is as 

wind-blown foam. 

And when she sees the sleep of one, ofttimes 

she rises there 
And looks into the outer dark and calleth soft 

and fair: 

. 6i 



In the Shadozv 

And then the lost soul that afar within the 
dark doth roam 

Comes laughing, laughing, laughing, and cry- 
ing, Home ! Home ! 

There is no home in faithless love, O fool that 

deems her fair: 
Bitter and drear that home you seek, the name 

of it, Despair: 
Drown, drown beneath the sterile kiss of the 

engulfing wave, 
A heaven of peace it is beside this mockery 

of a grave. 



I 



62 



THE STAR OF BEAUTY 

It dwells not in the skies, 
My Star of Beauty ! 

'Twas made of her sighs, 

Her tears and agonies. 

The fire in her eyes, 

My Star of Beauty ! 

Lovely and delicate, 

My Star of Beauty ! 
How could she master Fate, 
Although she gave back hate 
Great as my love was great. 
My Star of Beauty ! 

I loved, she hated, well: 
My Star of Beauty ! 

Soon, soon the passing bell: 

She rose, and I fell : 

Soft shines in deeps of hell 
My Star of Beauty ! 



63 



AN OLD TALE OF THREE 



Ah, bonnie darling, lift your dark eyes dream- 
ing! 

See, the firelight fills the gloaming, though 
deep darkness grows without — 



[Hush, dear, hush, I hear the sea-birds 

screaming. 
And down beyond the haven the tide comes 

with a shout!] 

Ah, birdeen, sweetheart, sure he is not coming, 
He who has your hand in his, while I have 
all your heart — 

[Hush, dear, hush, I hear the wild bees hum- 
ming 

Far away in the underworld where true love 
shall not part 1] 

Darling, darling, darling, all the world is sing- 
ing, 
Singing, singing, singing a song of joy for me ! 

64 



i 



An Old Tale of Three 

[Hush, dear, hush, what wild sea-wind is 

bringing 
Gloom o' the sea about thy brow, athwart the 

eyes of thee?] 

Ah, heart o' me, darling, darling, all my heart's 
' aflame ! 

Sure, at the last we are all in all, all in all we 
two! 



At the Door 
A Voice 

This is the way I take my own, this is the boon 

I claim ! 
Sure at the last, ye are all in all, all in all, ye 

two — 

(Later, in the dark, the living brooding 
beside the dead: — ) 

Ah, hell of my heart! Ye are dust to me — 
and dust with dust may woo ! 



65 



THE BURTHEN OF THE TIDE 

The tide was dark an' heavy with the burden 

that it bore, 
I heard it talkin', whisperin', upon the weedy 

shore : 
Each wave that stirred the sea-weed was like 

a closing door, 
'Tis closing doors they hear at last who hear 

no more, no more, 

My Grief, 
No more ! 

The tide was in the salt sea-weed, and like a 

knife it tore. 
The hoarse sea-wind went moaning, sooing, 

moaning o'er and o'er, 
The wild sea-heart was brooding deep upon 

its ancient lore, 
I heard the sob, the sooing sob, the dying sob 

at its core. 

My Grief, 
Its core ! 

66 



I 

4 



The Burthen of the Tide 

The white sea-waves were wan and grey its 
ashy Hps before ; 

The whirled spume between its jaws in floods 
did seaward pour — 

O whisperin' weed, O wild sea-waves, O hol- 
low baffled roar, 

Since one thou hast, O dark dim Sea, why 
callest thou for more. 

My Grief, 
For more. 



67 



WHEN THE DEW IS FALLING 

When the dew is falling 
I have heard a calling 

Of aerial sweet voices o'er the low green hill; 
And when the noon is dying 
I have heard a crying 

Where the brown burn slippeth thro' the hol- 
lows green and still. ■" 

And O the sorrow upon me, 

The grey grief upon me, 

For a voice that whispered once, and now for 

aye is still : 
O heart forsaken, calling 
When the dew is falling, 
To the one that comes not ever o'er the low 

green hill. 



68 



THE VOICE AMONG THE DUNES 

I have heard the sea-wind sighing 
Where the dune-grasses grow, 

The sighing of the dying 
Where the salt tides flow. 

For where the salt tides flow 
The sullen dead are lifting 

Tired arms, and to and fro 
Are idly drifting. 

So through the grey dune-grasses 

Not the wind only cries, 
But a dim sea-wrought Shadow 

Breathes drowned sighs. 



69 



THE UNDERSONG 

I hear the sea-song of the blood in my heart, 
I hear the sea-song of the blood in my ears: 
And I am far apart, 
And lost in the years. 

But when I lie and dream of that which was 
Before the first man's shadow flitted on the 

grass, 
I am stricken dumb 
With sense of that to come. 

Is then this wildering sea-song but a part 
Of the old song of the mystery of the years — 
Or only the echo of the tired heart 
And of tears? 



70 



DEAD LOVE 

FROM THE GAELIC 

{Heard sung by an old woman of the 
Island of Tiree.) 

It is the grey rock I am, 
And grey rain on the rock: 
It is the grey wave ... 
That grey hound. 

What (is it) to be old: 

(It is to be as) the grey moss in winter: 

Alasdair-mo-ghaol , 

It is long since my laughter. 

Alasdair-mo-ghaol, 
The breast is shrivelled 
That you said was white 
As canna in wind. 



71 



THE SOUL'S ARMAGEDDON 

I know not where I go, 
O Wind that calls afar: 

Wind that calls for war, 
Where the Death-Moon doth glow 
In a darkness without star. 

Nor do I know the blare 
Of the bugles that call : 
Nor who rise, nor who fall : 
Nor if the torches flare 
Where the gods laugh, or crawL 

But I hear, I hear the hum, 
The multitudinous cry. 
Where myriads fly. 
And I hear a voice say, Come: 
And the same voice say. Die ! 

What is the war, O Wind? 
Lo, without shield or spear 
How can I draw it near? 

1 am deaf and dumb and blind 
With immeasurable fear. 

72 



DAY AND NIGHT 

From grey of dusk, the veils unfold 
To pearl and amethyst and gold — 

Thus is the new day woven and spun : 

From glory of blue to rainbow-spray, 
From sunset-gold to violet-grey — 
Thus is the restful night re-won. 



73 



THE WHITE PEACE 

It lies not on the sunlit hill 

Nor on the sunlit plain : 
Nor ever on any running stream 

Nor on the unclouded main — 

But sometimes, through the Soul of Man, 

Slow moving o'er his pain. 
The moonlight of a perfect peace 

Floods heart and brain. 



74 



THE LOST STAR 

A star was loosed from heaven ; 

All saw it fall, in wonder, 
Where universe clashed universe 

With solar thunder. 

The angels praised God's glory, 
To send this beacon-flare 

To show the terror of darkness 
Beneath the Golden Stair. 

But God was brooding only 
Upon new births of light ; 

The star was a drop of water 
On the hps of Eternal Light. 



75 



THE RUNE OF AGE 

O thou that on the hills and wastes of Night 

art Shepherd, 
Whose folds are flameless moons and icy 

planets, 
Whose darkling way is gloomed with ancient 

sorrows : 
Whose breath lies white as snow upon the 

olden, 
Whose sigh it is that furrows breasts grown 

milkless, 
Whose weariness is in the loins of man 
And is the barren stillness of the woman : 
O thou whom all would flee, and all must 

meet, 
Thou that the Shadow art of Youth Eter- 
nal, 
The gloom that is the hush'd air of the 

Grave, 
The sigh that is between last parted love. 
The light for aye withdrawing from weary 

eyes, 
The tide from stricken hearts for ever 

ebbing ! 

76 



The Rune of Age 

O thou the Elder Brother whom none loveth, 
Whom all men hail with reverence or mocking, 
Who broodcst on the brows of frozen summits 
Yet (Ireamcst in the eyes of babes and chil- 
dren : 
Thou, Shadow of the Heart, the Mind, the 

Life, 
Who art that dusk What-is that is already 

Has-Been, 
To thee this rune of the fathers to the sons 
And of the sons to the sons, and mothers to 

new mothers — 
To thee who art Aois, 
To thee who art Age ! 

Breathe thy frosty breath upon my hair, for 
I am weary ! 

Lay thy frozen hand upon my bones that they 
support not, 

Put thy chill upon the blood that it sustain 
not; 

Place the crown of thy fulfilling on my fore- 
head; 

Throw the silence of thy spirit on my spirit ; 

Lay the balm and benediction of thy mercy 

On the brain-throb and the heart-pulse and the 
life-spring — 

For thy child that bows his head is weary. 

For thy child that bows his head is weary. 

77 



The Rune of Age 

I the shadow am that seeks the Darkness. 
Age, that hath the face of Night unstarr'd 

and moonless, 
Age, that doth extinguish star and planet, 
Moon and sun and all the fiery worlds, 
Give me now thy darkness and thy silence ! 



78 



MIANN 

Miann ghaol, Sonas: 

Miami hhithe, Sith: 

Miann anama, Flathas: 

Miann Dhe . . . gile run gu brath. 



DESIRE 

The desire of love, Joy: 
The desire of Hfe, Peace : 
The desire of the soul, Heaven : 
The desire of God ... a fiame-white secret 
for ever. 



79 



FROM THE HEART OF A 
WOMAN 



THE PRAYER OF WOMEN 

O spirit that broods upon the hills 

And moves upon the face of the deep, 

And is heard in the wind, 

Save us from the desire of men's eyes, 

And the cruel lust of them. 

Save us from the springing of the cruel seed 

In that narrow house which is as the grave 

For darkness and loneliness . . . 

That women carry with them with shame, and 

weariness, and long pain, 
Only for the laughter of man's heart, 
And for the joy that triumphs therein, 
And the sport that is in his heart. 
Wherewith he mocketh us, 
Wherewith he playeth with us. 
Wherewith he trampleth upon us . . . 
Us, who conceive and bear him ; 
Us, who bring him forth ; 
Who feed him in the womb, and at the breast, 

and at the knee : 
Whom he calleth mother and wife. 
And mother again of his children and his 

children's children. 

83 



The Prayer of Women 

Ah, hour of the hours, 

When he looks at our hair and sees it is 

grey ; 
And at our eyes and sees they are dim ; 
And at our Hps straightened out with long 

pain ; 
And at our breasts, fallen and seared as a 

barren hill ; 
And at our hands, worn with toil ! 
Ah, hour of the hours, 
When, seeing, he seeth all the bitter ruin and 

wreck of us — 
All save the violated womb that curses 

him — 
All save the heart that forbeareth . . . for 

pity- 
All save the living brain that condemneth 

him — 
All save the spirit that shall not mate with 

him — 
All save the soul he shall never see 
Till he be one with it, and equal ; 
He who hath the bridle, but guideth not;' 
He who hath the whip, yet is driven ; 
He who as a shepherd calleth upon us. 
But is himself a lost sheep, crying among the 

hills! 
O Spirit, and the Nine Angels who watch 

us, 

84 



The Prayer of Women 

And Thou, White Christ, and Mary Mother 

of Sorrow, 
Heal us of the wrong of man : 
We whose breasts are weary with milk, 
Cry, cry to Thee, O Compassionate! 



85 



THE RUNE OF THE PASSION OF 
WOMAN 

We who love are those who suffer, 

We who suffer most are the those who most 

do love. 
O the heartbreak come of longing love, 
O the heartbreak come of love deferred, 
O the heartbreak come of love grown listless. 
Far upon the lonely hills I have heard the 

crying, 
The lamentable crying of the ewes. 
And dreamed I heard the sorrow of poor 

mothers 
Made lambless too and weary with that sor- 
row: 
And far upon the waves I have heard the 

crying, 
The lamentable crying of the seamews. 
And dreamed I heard the wailing of the 

women 
Whose hearts are flamed with love above the 

gravestone. 
Whose hearts beat fast but hear no fellow- 
beating. 

86 



The Rune of the Passion of IVonian 

Bitter, alas, the sorrow of lonely women, 
When no man by the ingle sits, and in the 

cradle 
No little flower-like faces flush with slumber: 
Bitter the loss of these, the lonely silence, 
The void bed, the hearthside void, 
The void heart, and only the grave not void : 
But bitterer, oh more bitter still, the longing 
Of women who have known no love at all, 

who never. 
Never, never, have grown hot and cold with 

rapture 
'Neath the lips or 'neath the clasp of longing, 
Who have never opened eyes of heaven to 

man's devotion, 
Who have never heard a husband whisper 

" wife," 
Who have lost their youth, their dreams, their 

fairness. 
In a vain upgrowing to a light that comes not. 
Bitter these : but bitterer than either, 
O most bitter for the heart of woman 
To have loved and been beloved with passion. 
To have known the height and depth, the 

vision 
Of triple-flaming love — and in the heart-self 
Sung a song of deathless love, immortal. 
Sunrise-haired, and starry-eyed and wondrous : 
To have felt the brain sustain the mighty 

87 



The Rune of the Passion of Woman 

Weight and reach of thought unspanned and 

spanless, 
To have felt the soul grow large and noble, 
To have felt the spirit dauntless, eager, sv^ift 

in hope and daring, 
To have felt the body grov^^ in fairness, 
All the glory and the beauty of the body 
Thrill with joy of living, feel the bosom 
Rise and fall with sudden tides of passion. 
Feel the lift of soul to soul, and know the 

rapture 
Of the rising triumph of the ultimate dream 
Beyond the pale place of defeated dreams : 
To know all this, to feel all this, to be a 

woman 
Crowned with the double crown of lily and 

rose 
And have the morning star to rule the golden 

hours 
And have the evening star thro' hours of 

dream. 
To live, to do, to act, to dream, to hope. 
To be a perfect woman with the full 
Sweet, wondrous, and consummate joy 
Of womanhood fulfilled to all desire — 
And then ... oh then, to know the waning of 

the vision. 
To go through days and nights of starless 

longing, 

88 



The Rime of the Passion of Woman 

Through nights and days of gloom and bitter 

sorrow : 
To see the fairness of the body passing, 
To see the beauty wither, the sweet colour 
Fade, the coming of the wintry lines 
Upon pale faces chilled with idle loving. 
The slow subsidence of the tides of living. 
To feel all this, and know the desolate sorrow 
Of the pale place of all defeated dreams, 
And to cry out with aching lips, and vainly; 
And to cry out with aching heart, and vainly ; 
And to cry out with aching brain, and vainly ; 
And to cry out with aching soul, and 

vainly ; 
To cry, cry, cry with passionate heartbreak, 

sobbing. 
To the dim wondrous shape of Love Retreat- 
ing— 
To grope blindly for the warm hand, for the 

swift touch, 
To seek blindly for the starry lamps of pas- 
sion. 
To crave blindly for the dear words of long- 
ing! 
To go forth cold, and drear, and lonely, O so 

lonely. 
With the heart-cry even as the crying, 
The lamentable crying on the hills 
When lambless ewes go desolately astray — 

89 



Tlic Rune of the Passion of IVoman 

Yea, to go forth discrowned at last, who have 

worn 
The flower-sweet lovely crown of rapturous 

love: 
To know the eyes have lost their starry 

wonder ; 
To know the hair no more a fragrant dusk 
Wherein to whisper secrets of deep longing; 
To know the breasts shall henceforth be no 

haven 
For the dear weary head that loved to lie 

there — 
To go, to know, and yet to live and suffer. 
To be as use and wont demand, to fly no 

signal 
That the soul founders in a sea of sorrow, 
But to be "true," "a woman," "patient," 

" tender," 
" Divinely acquiescent," all-forbearing. 
To laugh, and smile, to comfort, to sustain, 
To do all this — oh this is bitterest, 
O this the heaviest cross, O this the tree 
Whereon the woman hath her crucifixion. 

But, O ye women, what avail? Behold, 
Men worship at the tree, whereon is writ 
The legend of the broken hearts of women. 
And this is the end : for young and old the 
end: 

90 



The Rune of the Passion of Woman 

For fair and sweet, for those not sweet nor 

fair, 
For loved, unloved, and those who once were 

loved, 
For all the women of all this weary world 
Of joy too brief and sorrow far too long. 
This is the end : the cross, the bitter tree. 
And worship of the phantom raised on high 
Out of your love, your passion, your despair, 
Hopes unfulfilled, and unavailing tears. 



91 



THE RUNE OF THE SORROW OF 
WOMEN 

This is the rune of the women who bear in 

sorroiv: 
Who, having anguish of body, die in the pangs 

of bearing, 
Who, with the ebb at the heart, pass ere the 

wane of the babe-mouth. 

The Rune 

O we are tired, we are tired, all we who are 

women : 
Heavy the breasts with milk that never shall 

nourish : 
Heavy the womb that never again shall be 

weighty. 
For we have the burthen upon us, we have the 

burthen, 
The long slow pain, the sorrow of going, and 

the parting. 
O little hands, O little lips, farewell and fare- 
well. 
Bitter the sorrow of bearing only to end with 

the parting. 

92 



The Rune of the Sorrow of Women 



The Dream 

Far away in the east of the world a Woman 

had sorrow. 
Heavy she was with child, and the pains were 

upon her. 
And God looked forth out of heaven, and he 

spake in his pity : 
" O Mary, thou bearest the Prince of Peace, 

and thy seed shall be blessed." 
But Mary the Mother sighed, and God the 

All-Seeing wondered. 
For this is the rune he heard in the heart of 

Mary the Virgin : — 
" Man blindfold soweth the seed, and blindly 

he reapeth : 
And to the word of the Lord is a blessing 

upon the sower. 
O what of the blessing upon the field that is 

sown. 
What of the sown, not of the sower, what of 

the mother, the bearer? 
Sure it is this that I see : that everywhere over 

the world 
The man has the pain and the sorrow, the 

weary womb and the travail ! 
Everywhere patient he is, restraining the tears 

of his patience 

93 



The Rune of the Sorrow of Women 

Slow in upbraiding, swift in passion unselfish, 

Bearing his pain in silence, in silence the 
shame and the anguish : 

Slow, slow he is to put the blame on the love 
of the woman : 

Slow to say she led him astray, swift ever to 
love and excuse her ! 

O 'tis a good thing, and I am glad at the 
seeing, 

That man who has all the pain and the patient 
sorrow and waiting 

Keepeth his heart ever young and never up- 
braideth the woman 

For that she laughs in the sun and taketh the 
joy of her living 

And holdeth him to her breast, and knoweth 
pleasure 

And plighteth troth akin to the starry im- 
mortals. 

And soon forgetteth, and lusteth after an- 
other. 

And plighteth again, and again, and yet again 
and again. 

And asketh one thing only of man who is pa- 
tient and loving,' — 

This : that he swerve not ever, that faithful he 
be and loyal. 

And know that the sorrow of sorrows is only 
a law of his being, 

94 



The Rune of the Sorroiv of Women 

And all is well with Woman, and the World 

of Woman, and God. 
O 'tis a good thing, and I am glad at the 

seeing! 
And this is the rune of man the bearer of pain 

and sorrow, 
The father who giveth the babe his youth his 

joy and the life of his living! " 

(And high in His Heaven God the All-Seeing 
troubled.) 



The Rune 

O we are weary, how weary, all we of the 

burthen : 
Heavy the breasts with milk that never shall 

nourish : 
Heavy the womb that never again shall be 

fruitful : 
Heavy the hearts that never again shall be 

weighty. 
For we have the burthen upon us, we have the 

burthen, 
The long slow pain, and the sorrow of going, 

and the parting. 
O little hands, O little lips, farewell and fare- 
well : 

95 



The Rune of the Sorrow of Women 

Bitter the sorrow of bearing only to end with 

the parting, 
Bitter the sorrow of bearing only to end with 

the parting. 



96 



THE SHEPHERD 



"Verily, those herdsmen also were of the sheep!" 

Nietzsche. 



He loved me, as he said, in every part, 

And yet I could not, would not, give him 
all: 
Why should a woman forfeit her whole 
heart 
At bidding of a single shepherd's call ? 
One vast the deep, and yet each wave is free 
To answer to the moonshine's drowsy smile 
Or leap to meet the storm-wind's rapturous 
glee : 
This heart of mine a wave is oftenwhile. 
Depth below depth, strange currents cross, re- 
cross, 
The anguished eddies ebb and flow. 
But on the placid surface seldom toss 

The reckless flotsam of what seeths below: 
O placid calms and maelstrom heart of me. 
Shall it be thus till there be no more sea? 

97 



The Shepherd 

II 

" I am thy shepherd, love, that on this hill 

Of life shall tend and guard thee evermore." 
These were thy words that far-off day and still 

Lives on thine echoing lips this bond of yore. 
Yet who wert thou, O soul as I am, thus 

To take so blithely gage of shepherding? 
Were we not both astray where perilous 

Steps might each into the abysmal darkness 
fling? 
Lo, my tired soul even as a storm-stayed ewe 

Across the heights unto my shepherd cried : 
But to the sheltered Vale at last I drew 

And laid me weary by the sleeping side. 
Thou didst not hear the Shepherd calling us, 
Nor far the night wind, vibrant, ominous. 

Ill 

O shepherd of mine, lord of my little life, ' 

Guard me from knowledge even of the 
stress : 
And if I stray, take heed thou of thy wife, 

Errant from mere woman's wantonness. 
Even as the Lord of Hosts, lo, in thy hand, 

The hollow of thy hand, my soul support: 
Guide this poor derelict back unto the land 

And lead me, pilot, to thy sheltering port ! 

98 



The Shepherd 

No — ^no — keep back — away — not now thy kiss : 

O shepherd, pilot, wake ! awake ! awake ! 
The deep must whelm us both ! Hark, the 
waves hiss, 
And as a shaken leaf the land doth shake ! 
Awake, O shepherding soul, and take com- 
mand ! — 
— Nay, vain, vain words : how shall he under- 
stand ? 



99 



FOAM OF THE PAST 



THRENODIES AND SONGS 
CHANTS AND DIRGES 



FOAM OF THE PAST 

TO W. B. YEATS 

In a small book in a greater, " The Little 
Book of the Great Enchantment" in The 
Book of White Magic for Wisdom) ... the 
" Leabhran Mhor Gheasadaireachd " to give 
the Gaelic name ... it is said : " When you 
have a memory out of darkness, tell to a seer, 
to a poet, and to a friend, that which you re- 
member : and if the seer say, I see it — and if 
the poet say, I hear it — and if the friend say, 
I believe it: then know of a surety that your 
remembrance is a true remembrance." But if 
our ancestral memories, or memories of the 
imagination, or reveries of the imagining mind 
wandering in a world publicly foregone yet 
inwardly actual, could become authentic only 
by a test such as this, then I fear they would 
indeed be apparent as mere foam, the froth 
of dream. For where is he who is at once 
seer and poet and friend^ Well, you have 
the great desire, which is the threshold of 
vision, and vision itself you have, which is the 

103 



Foam of the Past 

white enchantment : your words that you com- 
pel to a new and subtle music, and the un- 
known airs in your mind that shepherd those 
words into the green glens of your imagina- 
tion, would reveal you as the poet, though not 
one of your fellows acclaimed you, or none 
offered you the mistletoe bough with its old 
symbolism of wisdom and song: and, finally, 
I think I may call you friend, for we go one 
way, the dearer that it is narrow and little trod 
and leads by the whispering sedge and the 
wilderness, and meet sometimes on that way, 
and know that we seek the same Graal, and 
shall come upon it, beyond that fathomless 
hollow of green water that lies in the West 
as our poets say, the " Pool " whose breath is 
Silence and over which hangs a bow of red 
flame whitening to its moonwhite core. 

So you, perhaps, may say of some of these 
lines in " From the Hills of Dream " and 
" Foam of the Past " that they come familiarly 
to you in other than the sense of mere ac- 
quaintance. I think you, too, have known the 
dew which falls when Dalua whispers under 
the shadowy rowan-trees, and have heard the 
laughter of the Hidden Host, and known, . . . 
not the fairie folk of later legend, . . . but the 
perilous passage of the great Lords of Shadow, 
" who tread the deeps of night." You, too, 

104 



Foam of the Past 

perhaps, have feared The White Hound and 
the Red Shepherd: and have known that 
weariness, too old and deep for words, of 
which the aged Gaehc woman of the Island 
of Tiree had dim knowledge when she sang 

// is the grey rock I am, 
And the grey rain on the rock: 
It is the grey wave . . . 
That grey hound. 

You have heard The Rune of the Winds, 
the blowing of the four white winds and the 
three dark winds: perhaps, if you have not 
seen, or heard, my little Moon-Child, you re- 
member her from long ago, and her loneliness 
when she sang 

/ have no playmate but the tide 

The seaweed loves with dark brown eyes: 

The night-waves have the stars for play, 
For me but sighs. 

For all poetry is in a sense memory : all art, 
indeed, is a mnemonic gathering of the in- 
numerable and lost into the found and unique. 
I am sure that you, too, have seen the rising 
of the Crimson Moon, and have walked 
secretly with Midir of the Dew and moon- 
crown'd Brigid and wave-footed Manan. 
For you also the long way that seems brief 

105 



Foam of the Past 

and the short way that seems long, who can 
say with Dalua in The Immortal Hour 

And if I tread the long, continuous way 
Within a narrow round, not thinking it long, 
And fare a single hour thinking it many days, 
I am not first or last of the Immortal Clan 
For whom the long ways of the world are brief 
And the short ways heavy with unimagined time. 

I have listened so long to the music of the 
three harpers of Fraech, that what I most 
love now in the cadence and inward breath of 
song is that which comes across the thorn. 
You remember them, the three sons of Boinn 
of the Sidhe, that fair queen : the three har- 
pers of Fraech in the old tale of the Tain bo 
Fraich . . . who had for bard names Tear- 
Bringer, Smile-Bringer, and Sleep-Bringer : 
and how it was from the music of Uaithne, 
the self-playing harp of the Everlasting One, 
that these three were named. And I, too, like 
Befinn, sister of Boinn, am spell-bound in 
that vision of sorrowful beauty ... of beauty 
that comes secretly out of darkness and grey- 
ness and the sighing of wind, as the dew upon 
the grass and the reed by pale water: and is, 
for so brief a while : and, as the dew is gath- 
ered again swiftly and in silence, is become 
already a dream, a lost air remembered, a 

io6 



Foam of the Past 

beautiful thing that might have been. For 
that is what is hidden in the lament of the 
shennachies of old, when they sang of the 
loveliness of Befinn fading, like a leaf of May 
at the cold fires of Samhain, before the great 
flame of beauty of her son Fraech, " most 
beautiful of the men of Erin and Albin " 
. . . because of what she saw in that exceed- 
ing beauty, like the blue dusk at the heart of 
flame. " Beautiful beyond all beauty of 
youth, he was : but he has not long lived." 
That is the burden of the song. And what 
is this deep undertide of longing for that 
which is beyond wavering reach, for that 
which is covered up in the secrecies of things 
immortal, but the longing of Finnavar, daugh- 
ter of bright Oilill and dark-browed Maeve, 
for Fraech, the Son of Beauty, though she 
had never seen him, and loved only by hear- 
say, and because of the white passion in her 
heart, and because that inappeasable desire 
was more great to her than the things of life? 
Alas, what sorrowful truth lives in that dark 
saying of Boinn of the Sidhe ..." Men shall 
die who have an ear for harmonies." 

So that to you, for one, these poems, how- 
ever rude in form they may sometimes be, 
will come with that remembrance of the imag- 
ination which is the incalculable air of the 

107 



Foam of the Past 



otherworld of poetry. As you know, most of 
them have their place in tales of mine co- 
loured with the colour of a lost day and of a 
beauty that is legend : and must suffer by 
severance from their context, as pluckt pine- 
branches lose, if not their native savour, at 
least the light and gloom of their forest-com- 
pany and the smooth hand of the wind. The 
sound and colour of a barbarous day may well 
vanish in these broken recalling strains . . . 
at their best dimly caught even when, for ex- 
ample, " The Death Dance " be read in its 
due place in " The Laughter of the Queen," 
apart from which it is perhaps like an air born 
a thousand years ago on a Gaelic minstrel's 
clarsach and played anew to-day with curious 
artifice on a many-noted instrument. One or 
two at least of these threnodies and chants 
will have for you the familiar cadence of 
thought as well as of the familiar fall of 
words, for they are but adaptations of what 
long ago were chanted to rude harps made of 
applewood and yew. The songs of the Swan- 
Children of Lir have been sung by many poets : 
Deirdre's Lament on leaving Scotland, as she 
and Nathos (Naois) crossed the Irish Sea, has 
been a music in every generation of the Gael : 
and I do no more than remember, and repeat, 
with an accent of atmosphere or thought or 

1 08 



Foam of the Past 

words, which, perhaps, just reveals the differ- 
ence between paraphrase and metaphrase. 
Like Deirdre, we, too, look often yearningly 
to a land from which we were exiled in time, 
but inhabit in dream and longing, saying with 
her 

Glen of the Roes, Glen of the Roes, 

In thee I have dreamed to the fidl my happy dream: 

that where the shallow bickering Ruel flows 

1 might hear again, o'er its flashing gleam. 
The cuckoos calling by the murmuring stream. 

F. M. 



109 



LEAVES, SHADOWS, AND DREAMS 

I have seen all things pass and all men go 
Under the shadow o/ the drifting leaf: 

Green leaf, red leaf, brown leaf, 

Grey leaf blown to and fro. 
Blown to and fro. 

I have seen happy dreams rise up and pass 
Silent and swift as shadows on the grass: 

Grey shadows of old dreams. 

Grey beauty of old dreams. 
Grey shadows in the grass. 



no 



THE LAMENT OF IAN THE PROUD 

What is this crying that I hear in the wind? 
Is it the old sorrow and the old grief? 
Or is it a new thing coming, a whirling leaf 
About the grey hair of me who am weary and 

blind? 
I know not what it is, but on the moor above 

the shore 
There is a stone which the purple nets of the 

heather bind, 
And thereon is writ : She will return no more. 
O blown whirling leaf, 
And the old grief, 
And wind crying to me who am old and blind ! 



Ill 



DEIRDRE IS DEAD . . . 

"Deirdre the beautiful is dead . . . is dead!" 

{The House of Usna) 

The grey zvind weeps, the grey wind weeps, 

the grey wind zvccps: 
Dust on her breast, dust on her eyes, the grey 

wind weeps! 

Cold, cold it is under the brown sod, and cold 

under the grey grass ; 
Here only the wet wind and the flittermice and 

the plovers pass : 

I wonder if the wailing birds, and the soft 
hair-covered things 

Of the air, and the grey wind hear what sigh- 
ing song she sings 

Down in the quiet hollow where the coiled 

twilights of hair 
Are gathered into the darkness that broods on 

her bosom bare ? 

112 



Deirdre is Dead 

It is said that the dead sing, though we have 
no ears to hear, 

And that whoso Hsts is Hckt up of the Shad- 
ow, too, because of fear — 

But this would give me no fear, that I heard 
a sighing song from her lips : 

No, but as the green heart of an upthrust 
towering billow slips 

Down into the green hollow of the ingathering 

wave. 
So would I slip, and sink, and drown, in her 

grassy grave. 

For is not my desire there, hidden away under 
the cloudy night 

Of her long hair that was my valley of whis- 
pers and delight — 

And in her two white hands, like still swans 

on a frozen lake, 
Hath she not my heart that I have hidden 

there for dear love's sake ? 

Alas, there is no sighing song, no breath in 

the silence there: 
Not even the white moth that loves death flits 

through her hair 

113 



Deirdrc is Dead 

As the bird of Brigid, made of foam and the 

pale moonwhite wine 
Of dreams, flits under the sombre windless 

plumes of the pine. 

I hear a voice crying, crying, crying: is it the 

wind 
I hear, crying its old weary cry time out of 

mind? 

The grey wind weeps, the grey wind weeps, 

the grey wind zvceps: 
Dust on her breast, dust on her eyes, the grey 

wind weeps! 



114 



HEART O' BEAUTY 

O where are thy white hands, Heart o' Beauty? 

Heart o' Beauty ! 
They are as white foam on the swept sands, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 
They are as white swans i' the dusk, thy white 

hands. 
Wild swans in flight over shadowy lands, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 

lift again thy white hands. Heart o' Beauty, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 
Harp to the white waves on the yellow sands. 

Heart o' Beauty ! 
They will hearken now to these waving 

wands, 
To the magic wands of thy white hands. 

Heart o' Beauty ! 

From the white dawn till the grey dusk, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 

1 hear the unseen waves of unseen strands, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 

115 



Heart O' Beauty 

I see the sun rise and set over shadowy lands, 
But never, never, never thy white hands, thy ^ i 
white hands, 

Heart o' Beauty ! 



ii6 



THE MONODY OF ISLA THE SINGER 

"Like Bells on the wind . . ." 

Is it time to let the Hour rise and go forth as 

a hound loosed from the battle-cars? 
Is it time to let the Hour go forth, as the 

White Hound with the eyes of flame? 
For if it be not time I would have this hour 

that is left to me under the stars 
Wherein I may dream my dream again, and 

at the last whisper one name. 

It is the name of one who was more fair than 
youth to the old, than life to the young: 

She was more fair than the first love of An- 
gus the Beautiful, and though I were blind 

And deaf for a hundred ages I would see her, 
more fair than any poet has sung, 

And hear her voice like mournful bells crying 
on the wind. 



117 



WHITE-HANDS 

O where in the north, or where in the south, 

or where in the east or west 
Is she who hath the flower-white hands and 

the swandown breast? 
O, if she be west, or east she be, or in the 

north or south, 
A sword will leap, a horse will prance, ere I 

win to Honey-Mouth. 

She has great eyes, like the doe on the hill, 

and warm and sweet she is, 
O, come to me, Honey-Mouth, bend to me, 

Honey-Mouth, give me thy kiss ! 

White-Hands her name is, where she reigns 

amid the princes fair : 
White hands she moves like swimming swans 

athrough her dusk-wave hair: 
White hands she puts about my heart, white 

hands fan up my breath : 
White hands take out the heart of me, and 

grant me life or death ! 

ii8 



White-Hands 

White hands make better songs than hymns, 
white hands are young and sweet : 

O, a sword for me, O Honey-Mouth, and a 
war-horse fleet ! 

O wild sweet eyes ! O glad wild eyes ! O 

mouth, how sweet it is ! 
O, come to me, Honey-Mouth ! bend to me, 

Honey-Mouth ! give me thy kiss ! 



119 



THE DESIRE AND THE LAMENTA- 
TION OF COEL 

(The noise of harps and tympans. From the wood 
comes the loud chanting voice of Co el) : 

O, 'tis a good house, and a palace fair, the 
Dun of Macha, 
And happy with a great household is Macha 
there : 
Druids she has, and bards, minstrels, harpers, 

knights ; 4 

Hosts of servants she has, and wonders 

beautiful and rare, 
But nought so wonderful and sweet as her 
face queenly fair, 
O Macha of the Ruddy Hair ! 

{Choric Voices in a loud, swelling chant): 
O Macha of the Ruddy Hair! 

(CoEL chants) : 
The colour of her great Diin is the shining 
whiteness of lime, 
And within it are floors strewn with green 
rushes and couches white; 

120 



The Desire and the Lamentation of Coel 

Soft wondrous silks and blue gold-claspt 
mantles and furs 
Are there, and jewelled golden cups for 

revelry by night: 
Thy grianan of gold and glass is filled with 
sunshine-light, 

O Macha, queen by day, queen by 
night ! 

{Choric Voices): 

O Macha, queen by day, queen by 
night! 

Beyond the green portals, and the brown and 
red thatch of wings 
Striped orderly, the wings of innumerous 
stricken birds, 
A wide shining floor reaches from wall to 
wall, wondrously carven 
Out of a sheet of silver, whereon are graven 

swords 
Intricately ablaze : mistress of many hoards 
Art thou, Macha of few words ! 

{Choric Voices): 

Macha of few words! 

Fair indeed is thy couch, but fairer still is thy 
throne, 

121 



The Desire and the Lamentation of Coel 

A chair it is, all of a blaze of wonderful yel- 
low gold: 
There thou sittest, and watchest the women 
going to and fro, 
Each in garments fair and with long locks 

twisted fold in fold : 
With the joy that is in thy house men would 
not grow old, 

O Macha, proud, austere, cold. 



{Choric Voices): 

O Macha, proud, austere, cold! 

Of a surety there is much joy to be had of 
thee and thine, 
There in the song-sweet sunlit bowers in 
that place ; 
Wounded men might sink in sleep and be well 
content 
So to sleep, and to dream perchance, and 

know no other grace 
Then to wake and look betimes on thy 
proud queenly face, 

O Macha of the Proud Face ! 



{Choric Voices): 

O Macha of the Proud Face! 

122 



The Desire and the Lamentation of Coel 

And if there be any here who wish to know 
more of this wonder, 
Go, you will find all as I have shown, as I 
have said : 
From beneath its portico, thatched with wings 
of birds blue and yellow 
Reaches a green lawn, where a fount is fed 
From crystal and gems : of crystal and gold 
each bed 

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy 
Head! 

{Choric Voices): 

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy 
Head! 

In that great house where Macha the queen 
has her pleasaunce 
There is everything in the whole world that 
a man might desire. 
God is my witness that if I say little it is for 
this, 
That I am grown faint with wonder, and 

can no more admire. 
But say this only, that I live and die in the 
fire 

Of thine eyes, O Macha, my desire, 
With thine eyes of fire ! 

123 



The Desire and the Lamentation of Coel 
{Choric Voices in a loud swelling chant): 

But say this only, that we live and die in the 
fire 

Of thine eyes, Macha, Dream, De- 
sire, 
With thine eyes of fire! 

{Choric Voices repeat their refrains, but 
fainter, and becoming more faint. Last van- 
ishing sound of the harps and tympans.) 

{The Voice of Coel) : 
And where now is Macha of the proud face 
and the ruddy hair, 
Macha of few words, proud, austere, cold, 
with the eyes of fire ? 
Is she calhng to the singers down there under 
the grass, 
Is she saying to the bard, sing: and to the 

minstrel, where is thy lyre? 
Or is that her voice that I hear, lonelier and 

further and higher 
Than the wild wailing wind on the moor 
that echoes my desire, 

O Macha of the proud face 
And the eyes of fire! 



T24 



DALUA^ 

I have heard you calling, Dalua 

Dalua ! 
I have heard you on the hill, 
By the pool-side still, 
Where the lapwings shrill 

Dalua . . . dalua . . . dalua! 

What is it you call, Dalua, 

Dalua ! 
When the rains fall, 
When the mists crawl 
And the curlews call 

Dalua . . . dalua . . . dalua! 

I am the Fool, Dalua, 
Dalua! 
When men hear me, their eyes 
Darken: the shadow in the skies 
Droops: and the keening-zvoman cries 
Dalua . . . Dalua . . . Dalua 

' DalQa, one of the names of a mysterious being 
in the Celtic mythology, the Fairy Fool. 



125 



1 



THE SONG OF FIONULA 

Sleep, sleep, brothers dear, sleep and dream, 
Nothing so sweet lies hid in all your years. 

Life is a storm-swept gleam 

In a rain of tears: 
Why wake to a bitter hour, to sigh, to weep? 
How better far to sleep — 

To sleep and dream. 

To sleep and dream, ah, that were well indeed : 

Better than sighs, better than tears. 
Ye can have nothing better for your meed 

In all the years. 
Why wake to a bitter hour, to sigh, to weep? 

How better far to sleep — 
To sleep and dream, ah, that is well indeed ! 



126 



THE SONG OF AEIFA 
From The Swan-Children of Lir 

Speed hence, speed hence, O lone white swans, 

Across the wind-sprent foam ; 
The wave shall be your father now, 
And the wind alone shall kiss your brow, 

And the waste be your home. 

Speed hence, speed hence, O lone white swans, 

Your age-long quest to make ; 
Three hundred years on Moyle's wild breast, 
Three hundred years on the wilder west. 

Three hundred years on this lake. 

Speed hence, speed hence, O lone white swans, 

And Lir shall call in vain 
For all his aching heart and tears, 
For all the weariness of his years, 

Ye shall not come again. 

Speed hence, speed hence, O lone white swans, 

Till the ringing of Christ's bell; 
Then at the last ye shall have rest, 
And Death shall take ye to his breast 

At the ringing of Christ's bell. 

127 



THE SORROW OF THE HOUSE OF LIR 

Happy our father Lir afar, 
With mead, and songs of love and war : 
The salt brine, and the white foam, 
With these his children have their home. 

In the sweet days of long ago 
Soft-clad we wandered to and fro : 
But now cold winds of dawn and night 
Pierce deep our feathers thin and light. 

The hazel mead in cups of gold 
We feasted from in days of old : 
The sea-weed now our food, our wine 
The salt, keen, bitter, barren brine. 

On soft warm couches once we pressed: 
White harpers lulled us to our rest : 
Our beds are now where the sea raves, 
Our lullaby the clash of waves. 

Alas ! the fair sweet days are gone 
When love was ours from dawn to dawn: 
Our sole companion now is pain, 
Through frost and snow, through storm and 
rain. 

128 



I 



The Sorrow of the House of Lir 

Beneath my wings my brothers he 
When the fierce ice-winds hurtle by : 
On either side and 'neath my breast 
Lir's sons have known no other rest. 

Ah, kisses we shall no more know, 
Ah, love so dear exchanged for woe, 
All that is sweet for us is o'er, 
Homeless we are from shore to shore. 



129 



THE CHANT OF ARDAN THE PICT 

O Colum and monks of Christ 

It is peace we are having this night: 

Sure, peace is a good thing, 

And I am glad with the gladness. 

We worship one God, 
Though ye call him De — 
And I say not, O Dial 
But cry Bea'uil ! 

For it is one faith for man. 
And one for the living world, 
And no man is wiser than another — 
And none knoweth much. 

None knoweth a better thing than this: 
The Sword, Love, Song, Honour, Sleep. 
None knoweth a surer thing than this : 
Birth, Sorrow, Pain, Weariness, Death. 



130 



THE LAMENTATION OF BALVA THE 

MONK 

Balva the old monk I am called : when I was 

young, Balva Honeymouth. 
That was before Colum the White came to 

lona in the West. 
She whom I loved was a woman whom I won 

out of the South, 
And I had a good heaven with my lips on 

hers and with breast to breast. 

Balva the old monk I am called : were it not 

for the fear 
That the soul of Colum the White would meet 

my soul in the Narrows 
That sever the living and dead, I would rise 

up from here 
And go back to where men pray with spears 

and arrows. 

Balva the old monk I am called : ugh ! ugh ! 

the cold bell of the matins — 'tis dawn! 
Sure it's a dream I have had that I was in a 

warm wood with the sun ashine, 

131 



The Lamentation of Balva the Monk 

And that against me in the pleasant greenness 
was a soft fawn, 

And a voice that whispered " Balva Honey- 
mouth, drink, I am thy wine ! " 



132 



THE LAST NIGHT OF ARTAN THE 
CULDEE 

It is but a little thing to sit here in the silence 

and the dark : 
For I remember the blazing noon when I saw 

Oona the White : 
I remember the day when we sailed the Moyle 

in our skin-built barque ; 
And I remember when Oona's lips were on 

mine in the heart of the night. 

So it is a little thing to sit here, hearing 

nought, seeing nought : 
When the dawn breaks they will hurry me 

hence to the new-dug grave : 
It will be quiet there, if it be true what the 

good Colum has taught, 
And I shall hear Oona's voice as a sleeping 

seal hears the moving wave. 



133 



OONA OF THE DARK EYES AND THE 
CRYING OF WIND 

I have fared far in the dim woods : 

And I have known sorrow and grief, 

And the incalculable years 

That haunt the solitudes. 

Where now are the multitu'^es 

Of the Field of Spears? 

Old tears 

Fall upon them as rain, 

Their eyes are quiet under the brown leaf. 

I have seen the dead, innumerous: 

I too shall lie thus, 

And thou, Congal, thou too shalt lie 

Still and white 

Under the starry sky. 

And rise no more to any Field of Spears, 

But, under the brown leaf, 

Remember grief 

And the old, salt, bitter tears. 

And I have heard the crying of wind. 
It is the crying that is in my heart: 

134 



Oona of the Dark Eyes 

Oona of the Dark Eyes, Oona of the Dark 

Eyes, 
Oona, Oona, Oona, Heart of my Heart! 
But there is only crying of wind 
Through the silences of the sky, 
Dews that fall and rise, 
The faring of long years. 
And the coverlet of the brown leaf 
For the old familiar grief 
And the old tears. 



135 



THE LOVE-SONG OF DROSTAN 

(From " Drostan and Yseul": an unpublished 

drama.) 

Drostan : You have drunken of the cup of 
wisdom. Let me also drink. 

[Suddenly snatches a small clar- 
sach from the woman's hand, and to 
its wild and rude music chants — 

In the days of the Great Fires when the hills 

were aflame, 
Aed the Shining God lay by a foamwhite 

mountain, 
The white thigh of moon-crown'd Dana, 

Beautiful Mother. 
And the wind fretted the blue with the tossed 

curling clouds 
Of her tangled hair, and like two flaming stars 

were her eyes 
Torches of sunfire and moonfire : and her vast 

breasts 
Heaved as the sea heaves in the white calms, 

and the wind of her sighs 

136 



The Love-Song of Drostan 

Were as the winds of sunrise soaring the 

peaks of the eagles — 
Dana, Mother of the Gods, moon-crown'd, 

sea-shod, wonderful ! 

" Fire of my love," she cried. . , . Aed of the 

Sunlight and Shadow 
Laughed : and he rose till he grew more vast 

than Dana : 
The sun was his trampling foot, and he wore 

the moon as a feather : 
And he lay by Dana : and the world swayed, 

and the stars swung. 
Thus was Oengus born, Lord of Love, Son of 

Wisdom and Death. 

Hear us, Oengus, Beautiful, Terrible, Sun- 
Lord and Death-Lord! 

Give us the white flame of love born of Aed 
and of Dana — 

Hearken, thou Pulse of hearts, and let the 
white doves from your lips 

Cover zvith passionate zvings the silence be- 
tween us. 

Where a white fazvn leaps and only Vseiil and 
I behold it. 



T^yj 



♦ 



THE CUP 

Chuir Muiril mirr ami, 
Chuir Uiril mil ann, 
Chuir Muirinn fion ann, 
'S chuir Michal ann buadh. 

" Muriel placed myrrh in it: 
Uriel placed honey in it: 
Murien placed wine in it: 
And Michael strength." 

The Cup of bitter-sweet I know 
Tliat witli old wine of love doth glow: 
The dew of tears to it doth go, 
And wisdom is its hidden woe. 

Were I but young again to throw 
This cup where the wild thistles grow, 
Or where, oblivious, ceaseless, slow, 
The grey tumultuous waters flow ! 



138 



THE LOVE-CHANT OF CORMAC 
CONLINGAS 

Oime, Oime, woman of the white breasts, 

Eihclh ! 1 
Woman of the golden hair, and Hps of the 

red, red rowan ! 

Oime, O-ri, Oime ! 

Where is the swan that is whiter, with breast 

more smooth, 
Or the wave on the sea that moves as thou 

movest, Eilidh — 

Oime, a-ro ; Oime, a-ro ! 

It is the marrow in my bones that is aching, 

aching, EiHdh : 
It is the blood in my body that is a bitter wild 

tide, Oime ! 

O-ri, Ohion, O-ri, arone ! 

Is it the heart of thee calling that I am hear- 
ing, Eilidh, 

Or the wind in the wood, or the beating of 
the sea, Eilidh, 

Or the beating of the sea? 

' Eilidh is pronounced Eily. 



The Love-Chant of Connac Conlingas 

Shule, shule agrah, shule agrah, shule agrah, 

Shule ! 
Heart of me, move to me ! move to me, heart 

of me, Eilidh, Eilidh, 
Move to me! 

Ah ! let the wild hawk take it, the name of me, 

Cormac Conlingas, 
Take it and tear at thy heart with it, heart 

that of old was so hot with it, 

Eilidh, Eihdh, O-ri, Eihdh, Eilidh! 



140 



THE DEATH-DIRGE FOR CATHAL 

Out of the wild hills I am hearing a voice, O 

Cathal ! 
And I am thinking it is the voice of a bleeding 

sword. 
Whose is that sword? I know it well: it is 

the sword of the Slayer — 
Him that is called Death, and the song that it 

sings I know : — 

where is Cathal mac Art, the white cup 

for the thirst of my lips? 

Out of the cold greyness of the sea I am hear- 
ing, O Cathal, 

1 am hearing a wave-muffled voice, as of one 

who drowns in the depths : 
Whose is that voice ? I know it well : it is the 

voice of the Shadow — 
Her that is called the Grave, and the song that 

she sings I know : — 
O where is Cathal mac Art, that has warmth 

for the chill that I have? 

141 



The Death-Dirge for Cafhal 

Out of the hot greenness of the wood I am 
hearing, O Cathal, 

I am hearing a rustling step, as of one stum- 
bling blind. 

Whose is that rustling step ? I know it well : 
the rustling walk of the Blind One — 

Her that is called Silence, and the song that 
she sings I know : — 

O where is Cathal mac Art, that has tears to 
water my stillness? 



142 



THE DEATH DANCE 

O arone a-ree, eily arone, arone ! 

'Tis a good thing to be sailing across the seas ! 

How the women smile and the children are 

laughing glad 
When the galleys go out into the blue sea — 

arone ! 

O eily arone, arone ! 

But the children may laugh less when the 
wolves come, 

And the women may smile less in the win- 
ter-cold — 

For the Summer-sailors will not come again, 
arone ! 

arone a-ree, eily arone, arone ! 

1 am thinking they will not sail back again, 

O no! 
The yellow-haired men that came sailing 

across the sea: 
For 'tis wild apples they would be, and swing 

on green branches. 
And sway in the wind for the corbies to preen 

their eyne, 

O eily arone, eily a-ree! 

143 



The Death Dance 

And it is pleasure for Scathach the Queen to 
see this : 

To see the good fruit that grows on the Tree 
of the Stones : 

Long black fruit it is, wind-swayed by its yel- 
low roots, 

And like men they are with their feet danc- 
ing in the void air ! 

O, O, arone, a-ree, eily arone ! 

O arone a-ree, eily arone, arone, 
O, O, arone, a-ree, eily arone! 



144 



THE END OF AODH-OF-THE-SONGS 

The swift years slip and slide adown the 

steep ; 
The slow years pass ; neither will come again. 
Yon huddled years have weary eyes that weep, 
These laugh, these moan, these silent frown, 

these plain, 
These have their lips curl'd up with proud 

disdain. 

years with tears, and tears through weary 

years. 
How weary I who in your arms have lain : 
Now, I am tired : the sound of sHpping spears 
Moves soft, and tears fall in a bloody rain. 
And the chill footless years go over me who 

am slain. 

1 hear, as in a wood, dim with old light, the 

rain, 
Slow falling ; old, old, weary, human tears : 
And in the deepening dark my comfort is my 

Pain, 
Sole comfort left of all my hopes and fears, 
Pain that alone survives, gaunt hound of the 

shadowy years. 

145 



THE LAMENT OF DARTHOOL 

lonmhuin tir, an tir ud shoir — 
Alba go na h'-iongantaihh; 
Nocha ttiocfainn aistc ale, 
Muna ttagainn le Naoise. 

O woods of Oona, I can hear the singing 
Of the west wind among the branches green 
And the leaping and laughing of cool waters 

springing, 
And my heart aches for all that has been, 
For all that has been, my Home, all that has 

been! 

Glenmassan ! O Glenmassan ! 

High the sorrel there, and the sweet fragrant 

grasses : 
It would be well if I were listening now to 

where 
In Glenmassan the sun shines and the cool 

west wind passes, 
Glenmassan of the grasses! 

146 



The Lament of Darthool 

Lock Etive, O fair Loch Etive, that was my 
first home, 

I think of thee now when on the grey-green 
sea — 

And beneath the mist in my eyes and the fly- 
ing foam 

I look back wearily, 

I look back wearily to thee ! 

Glen Orchy, O Glen Orchy, fair sweet glen, 
Was ever I more happy than in thy shade? 
Was not Nathos there the happiest of men? 
O may thy beauty never fade, 
Most fair and sweet and beautiful glade. 

Glen of the Roes, Glen of the Roes, 
In thee I have dreamed to the full my happy 
dream : 

that where the shallow bickering Ruel 

flows. 

1 might hear again, o'er its flashing gleam, 
The cuckoos calling by the murmuring stream. 



147 



THE LOVE-KISS OF DERMID AND 
GRAINNE 

When by the twiht sea these twain were come 
Dermid spake no one word, Grainne was 

dumb, 
And in the hearts of both deep silence was. 
" Sorrow upon me, love," whispered the grass ; 
" Sorrow upon me, love, " the sea-bird cried ; 
" Sorrow upon me, love," the lapsed wave 

sighed. 

" For what the King has willed, that thing 

must be, 
O Dermid ! As two waves upon this sea 
Wind-swept we are, — the wind of his dark 

mind. 
With fierce inevitable tides behind." 
" What would you have, O Grainne : he is 

King." 
" I would we were the birds that come with 

Spring, 
The purple-feathered birds that have no home, 
The birds that love, then fly across the 

foam." 

148 



The Love-Kiss of Derniid and Grainne 

" Give me thy mouth, O Dermid," Grainne 

said 
Thereafter, and whispering thus she leaned 

her head — 
Ah, supple, subtle snake she glided there 
Till, on his breast, a kiss-deep was her hair 
That twisted serpent-wise in gold red pain 
From where his lips held high their proud dis- 
dain. 
" Here, here," she whispered low, " here on 

my mouth 
The swallow, Love, hath found his haunted 
South." 

Then Dermid stooped and passionlessly 

kissed. 
But therewith Grainne won what she had 

missed. 
And that night was to her, and all sweet 

nights 
Thereafter, as Love's flaming swallow-flights 
Of passionate passion beyond speech to 

tell. 
But Dermid knew how vain was any spell 

Against the wrath of Finn: and Grainne's 

breath 
To him was ever chill with Grainne's death ; 
Full well he knew that in a soundless place 

149 



The Love-Kiss of Dcrmid and Grainne 

His ov/n wraith stood and with a moon-white 

face 
Watched its own shadow laugh and shake its 

spear 
Far in a phantom dell against a phantom deer. 



150 



THE TRYST OF QUEEN HYNDE 

Queen Hynde was in the rowan-wood with 

scarlet fruit aflame, 
Her face was as the berries were, one sun-hot 

wave of shame. 

With scythes of fire the August sun mowed 
down vast swathes of shade : 

With blazing eyes the waiting queen stared on 
her steel-blue blade. 

"What, thirsty hound," she muttered low, 

" with thirst you flash and gleam : 
Bide, bide a wee, my bonnie hound, I'll show 
ye soon a stream ! " 

The sun had tossed against the West his 

broken scythes of fire 
When Lord Gillanders bowed before his 

Queen and Sweet Desire. 

She did not give him smile or kiss; her hand 

she did not give : 
" But are ye come for death," she said, " or 

are ye come to live ? " 

151 



The Tryst of Queen Hynde 

Gillanders reined and looked at her : " Hynde, 

Queen and Love," he said, 
" I wooed in love, I come in love, to this the 

tryst we made: 

" Why are your eyes so fierce and wild ? why 

is your face so white? 
I love you with all my love," he said, " by day 

and by night." 

" What o' the word that's come to me, of how 

my lord's to wed 
The lilywhite maid o' one that has a gold 

crown on his head? 

" What o' the word that yesternight ye wan- 
toned with my name. 

And on a windy scorn let loose the blown leaf 
o' my shame ? " 

The Lord Gillanders looked at her, and never 

a word said he. 
But sprang from off his great black horse and 

sank upon his knee. 

" This is my love," said white Queen Hynde, 
" and this, and this, and this " — 

Four times she stabbed him to the heart while 
she his lips did kiss. 

152 



The Tryst of Queen Hynde 

She left him in the darkhng wood : and as she 

rode she sang 
(The httle notes swirled in and out amid the 

horsehoof clang) 

My love was sweet, was szveet, was sweet, 

but not so sweet as now! 
A deep long sleep my sweet love has beneath 

the rowan-bough. 

They let her in, they lifted swords, his head 

each one did bare : 
Slowly she bowed, slowly she passed, slowly 

she clomb the stair : 

Her little son she lifted up, and whispered 

'neath his cries — 
" The old king's son, they say ; mayhap ; he has 

Gillander's eyes." 



153 



THE SONG OF AHEZ THE PALE 

But this was in the old, old, far-off days, 
But this was in the old, old, far-off days. 

They rode beneath the ancient boughs, and as 

they rode she sang. 
But at the last both silent were: only the 
horse-hoofs rang. 

Guenn took up his sword, and she felt its shin- 
ing blade, 

And she laughed and vowed it fitted ill for the 
handling of a maid. 

He looked at her, and darkly smiled, and said 

she was a queen : 
For she could swing the white sword high and 

love its dazzling sheen. 

She lifted up the great white sword and swung 

it o'er his head — 
" Ah, you may smile, my lord, now you may 

smile," she said. 

For this was in the old, old, far-off days, 
For this was in the old, old, far-off days. 

154 



THE WAR-SONG OF THE VIKINGS 

Let loose the hounds of war, 

The whirHng swords ! 
Send them leaping afar, 
Red in their thirst for war; 
Odin laughs in his car 

At the screaming of the sw^ords ! 

Far let the white-ones fly, 

The whirling swords ! 
Afar off the ravens spy 
Death-shadows cloud the sky. 
Let the wolves of the Gael die 

'Neath the screaming swords ! 

The Shining Ones yonder 

High in Valhalla 
Shout now, with thunder: 
Drive the Gaels under, 
Cleave them asunder — 

Swords of Valhalla! 



155 



THE CRIMSON MOON 

Behind the Legions of the Sun, the Star Bat- 
tahons of the night, 

The reddening of the West I see, from morn 
till dusk, from dusk till light. 

A day must surely come at last, and that day 
soon, 

W'hen the Hidden People shall march out be- 
neath the Crimson Moon. 

Our palaces shall crumble then, our towers 
shall fall away, 

And on the plains our burning towns shall 
flaunt a desolate day : 

The cities of our pride shall wear tiaras of red 
flame, 

And all our phantom glory be an idle wind- 
blown name. 

What shall our vaunt be on that day, or who 

thereon shall hear 
The laughter of our laughing lips become the 

wail of fear? 
Our vaunt shall be the windy dust in eddies 

far and wide, 

156 



The Crimson Moon 

The hearing, theirs who follow us with swift 
and dreadful stride. 

A cry of lamentation, then, shall sweep from 

land to land : 
A myriad waving hands shall shake above a 

myriad strand : 
The Day shall swoon before a Shade of vast 

ancestral Night, 
Till a more dreadful Morn awake to flood and 

spume of light. 

This is the prophecy of old, before the roam- 
ing tribes of Man 

Spread Multitude athwart the heirdom of an 
earlier Clan — 

Before the gods drank Silence, and hid their 
way with cloud, 

And Man uprose and claimed the Earth and 
all the starry crowd. 

So Man conceived and made his dream, till at 

the last he smiled to see 
Its radiant skirts brush back the stars from 

Immortality : 
He crowned himself with the Infinite, and 

gave his Soul a Home, 
And then the quiet gods awoke and blew his 

life to foam. 

157 



The Crimson Moon 

This is the Dream I see anew, when all the 
West is red with light, 

Behind the Legions of the Sun, the Star Bat- 
tahons of the night. 

Verily the day may come at last, and that day 
soon, 

When the Hidden People shall march out be- 
neath the Crimson Moon. 



158 



THE WASHER OF THE FORD 

There is a lonely stream afar in a lone dim 

land; 
It hath white dust for shore it has, white bones 

bestrew the strand : 
The only thing that liveth there is a naked 

leaping sword ; 
But I, who a seer am, have seen the whirling 

hand 

Of the Washer of the Ford. 

A shadowy shape of cloud and mist, of gloom 

and dusk, she stands. 

The Washer of the Ford : 
She laughs, at times, and strews the dust 

through the hollow of her hands. 
She counts the sins of all men there, and slays 

the red-stained horde — 
The ghosts of all the sins of men must know 

the whirling sword 

Of the Washer of the Ford. 

She stoops and laughs when in the dust she 

sees a writhing limb : 
" Go back into the ford," she says, " and 

hither and thither swim ; 

159 



The Washer of the Ford 

Then I shall wash you white as snow, and 

shall take you by the hand, 
And slay you there in silence with this my 

whirling brand. 
And trample you into the dust of this white, 
windless sand " — 

This is the laughing word 
Of the Washer of the Ford 
Along that silent strand. 



I 
1 



« 



1 60 



THE MOURNERS 
{From the Breton) 

When they had made the cradle 

Of ivory and of gold, 
Their hearts were heavy still 

With the sorrov^f of old. 

And ever as they rocked, the tears 

Ran down, sad tears : 
Who is it lieth dead therein. 

Dead all these weary years? 

And still they rock that cradle there 

Of ivory and of gold : 
For in their minds the shadow is 

The Shadow of Old. 

They weep, and know not what they weep ; 

They wait a vain re-birth : 
Vanity of vanities, alas. 

For there is but one birth 

On the wide green earth. 

J6i 



FOAM OF THE PAST 
II 



MILKING SIAN 

Give up thy milk to her who calls 
Across the low green hills of Heaven 
And stream-cool meads of Paradise ! 

Across the low green hills of Heaven 
How sweet to hear the milking call, 
The milking call i' the meads of Heaven 

Stream-cool the meads of Paradise, 
Across the low green hills of Heaven. 

Give up thy milk to her who calls, 
Sweet voiced amid the Starry Seven. 
Give up thy milk to her who calls 1 



i65 



THE KYE-SONG OF ST. BRIDE 

O sweet St. Bride of the 

Yellow, yellow hair : 
Paul said, and Peter said. 
And all the saints alive or dead 
Vowed she had the sweetest head, 
Bonnie, sweet St. Bride of the 

Yellow, yellow hair. 

White may my milkin' be, 

White as thee : 
Thy face is white, thy neck is white, 
Thy hands are white, thy feet are white, 
For thy sweet soul is shinin' bright — 

O dear to me, 

O dear to see 

St. Briget white ! 

Yellow may my butter be. 

Firm, and round : 
Thy breasts are sweet, 
Firm, round and sweet, 
So may my butter be : 
So may my butter be O 

Briget sweet ! 

i66 



The Kyc-Song of St. Bride 

Safe thy way is, safe, O 

Safe, St. Bride : 
May my kye come home at even, 
None be faUin', none be leavin', 
Dusky even, breath-sweet even, 
Here, as there, where O 

St. Bride thou 
Keepest tryst with God in heav'n, 
Seest the angels bow 
And souls be shriven — 
Here, as there, 'tis breath-sweet even 

Far and wide — 
Singeth thy little maid 
Safe in thy shade 

Briget, Bride ! 



167 



ST. BRIDE'S LULLABY 

Oh, Baby Christ, so dear to me, 

Sang Briget Bride: 
How sweet thou art. 
My baby dear. 
Heart of my heart ! 

Heavy her body was with thee, 
Mary, beloved of One in Three — 

Sang Briget Bride — 
Mary, who bore thee, Httle lad : 
But light her heart was, light and glad 
With God's love clad. 

Sit on my knee. 

Sang Briget Bride : 
Sit here 
O Baby dear, 

Close to my heart, my heart : 
For I thy foster-mother am, 
My helpless lamb ! 
O have no fear, 

Sang good St. Bride. 
1 68 



St. Bride's Lullaby 

None, none, 
No fear have T : 
So let me cling 
Close to thy side 
While thou dost sing, 
O Briget Bride ! 

My Lord, my Prince, I sing ; 
My Baby dear, my King ! 
Sang Briget Bride. 



169 



THE BIRD OF CHRIST 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

Christ upon the Cross : 
My little nest was near, 

Hidden in the moss. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

Christ was pale and wan : 
His eyes beheld me singing 

Bron, Bron, mo Bron ! ^ 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

" Come near, O wee brown bird ! " 
Christ spake, and lo, I lighted 

Upon the Living Word. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

I heard the mocking scorn ! 
But Holy, Holy, Holy, 

I sang against a thorn ! 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

Ah, his brow was bloody : 
Holy, Holy, Holy, 

All my breast was ruddy. 

i"0 my Grief, my Grief!" 
170 



The Bird of Christ 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

Christ's-Bird shalt thou be 
Thus said Mary Virgin 

There on Calvary. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 

A wee brown bird am I: 
But my breast is ruddy 

For I saw Christ die. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, 
By this ruddy feather, 

Colum, call thy monks, and 
All the birds together. 



171 



THE MEDITATION OF COLUM 
Before the Miracle of the Fishes and the Flies 



Praise be to God, and a blessing too at that, 

and a blessing ! 
For Colum the White, Colum the Dove, hath 

worshipped ; 
Yea he hath worshipped and made of a desert 

a garden. 
And out of the dung of men's souls hath made 

a sweet savour of burning. 

II 

A savour of burning, most sweet, a fire for 
the altar. 

This he hath made in the desert ; the hell-saved 
all gladden. 

Sure he hath put his benison, too, on milch- 
cow and bullock. 

On the fowls of the air, and the man-eyed 
seals, and the otter. 

172 



The Meditation of Colum 

III 

But where in his Dun in the great blue main- 
land of Heaven 

God the Allfather broodeth, where the harpers 
are harping His glory ; 

There where He sitteth, where a river of ale 
poureth ever, 

His great sword broken, His spear in the dust, 
He broodeth. 

IV 

And this is the thought that moves in His 

brain, as a cloud filled with thunder 
Moves through the vast hollow sky filled with 

the dust of the stars : 
What boots it the glory of Colum, since he 

maketh a Sabbath to bless me 
And hath no thought of my sons in the deeps 

of the air and the sea? 



173 



ST. CHRISTOPHER OF THE GAEL 

Behind the wattle-woven house 
Nial the Mighty gently crept 
From out a screen of ashtree boughs 
To where a captive white-robe slept. 

Lightly he moved, as though ashamed ; 
To right and left he glanced his fears. 
Nial the Mighty was he named 
Though but an untried youth in years — 

But tall he was, as tall as he, 
White Dermid of the magic sword, 
Or Torcall of the Hebrid Sea 
Or great Cuhoolin of the Ford ; 

Strong as the strongest, too, he was : 
As Balor of the Evil Eye ; 
As Fionn who kept the Ulster Pass 
From dawn till blood-flusht sunset sky. 

Much had he pondered all that day 
The mystery of the men who died 
On crosses raised along the way, 
And perished singing side by side. 

174 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

Modred the chief had sailed the Moyle, 
Had reached lona's guardless-shore, 
Had seized the monks when at their toil 
And carried northward, bound, a score. 

Some he had thrust into the deep, 
To see if magic fins would rise : 
Some from high rocks he forced to leap, 
To see wings fall from out the skies : 

Some he had pinned upon tall spears, 
Some tossed on shields with brazen clang, 
To see if through their blood and tears 
Their god would hear the hymns they sang. 

But when his oarsmen flung their oars, 
And laughed to see across the foam 
The glimmer of the highland shores 
And smoke-wreaths of the hidden home, 

Modred was weary of his sport. 
All day he brooded as he strode 
Betwixt the reef-encircled port 
And the oak-grove of the Sacred Road. 

At night he bade his warriors raise 
Seven crosses where the foamswept strand 
Lay still and white beyond the blaze 
Of the hundred camp-fires of the land. 

175 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

The women milked the late-come kye, 
The children raced in laughing glee ; 
Like sheep from out the fold of the sky 
Stars leapt and stared at earth and sea. 

At times a wild and plaintive air 

Alade delicate music far away: 

A hill- fox barked before its lair : 

The white owl hawked its shadowy prey. 

But at the rising of the moon 
The druids came from grove and glen, 
And to the chanting of a rune 
Crucified St. Columba's men. 

They died in silence side by side, 
But first they sang the evening hymn : 
By midnight all but one had died, 
At dawn he too was grey and grim. 

One monk alone had Modred kept, 

A youth with hair of golden-red, 

Who never once had sighed or wept. 

Not once had bowed his proud young head. 

Broken he lay, and bound with thongs. 
Thus had he seen his brothers toss 
Like crows transfixed upon great prongs. 
Till death crept up each silent cross, 

176 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

Night grew to dawn, to scarlet mom ; 
Day waned to firelit, starlit night: 
But still with eyes of passionate scorn 
He dared the worst of Modred's might. 

When from the wattle-woven house 
Nial the Mighty softly stepped, 
And peered beneath the ashtree boughs 
To where he thought the whiterobe slept, 

He heard the monk's words rise in prayer, 
He heard a hymn's ascending breath — 
" Christ, Son of God, to Thee I fare 
This night upon the wings of death." 

Nial the Alighty crossed the space, 
He waited till the monk had ceased ; 
Then, leaning o'er the foam-white face, 
He stared upon the dauntless priest. 

" Speak low," he said, " and tell me this : 
Who is the king you hold so great ? — 
Your eyes are dauntless flames of bhss 
Though Modred taunts you with his hate :- 

" This god or king, is He more strong 
Than ^lodred is ? And does He sleep 
That thus your death-in-life is long, 
And bonds your aching body keep ? " 

177 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

The monk's eyes stared in Nial's eyes: 
" Young giant with a child's white heart, 
I see a cross take shape and rise, 
And thou upon it nailed art ! " 

Nial looked back : no cross he saw 
Looming from out the dreadful night: 
Yet all his soul was filled with awe, 
A thundercloud with heart of light. 

" Tell me thy name," he said, " and why 
Thou waitest thus the druid knife, 
And carest not to Hve or die? 
Monk, hast thou little care of life? " 

" Great care of that I have," he said, 
And looked at Nial with eyes of fire: 
" My life begins when I am dead. 
There only is my heart's desire." 

Nial the mighty sighed. " Thy words 
Are as the idle froth of foam, 
Or clashing of triumphant swords 
When Modred brings the foray home. 

" My name is Nial : Nial the Strong : 
A lad in years, but as you see 
More great than heroes of old song 
Or any lordly men that be. 

178 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

" To Modred have I come from far, 
O'er many a hill and strath and stream, 
To be a mighty sword in war, 
And this because I dreamed a dream : 

" My dream was that my strength so great 
Should serve the greatest king there is: 
Modred the Pict thus all men rate, 
And so I sought this far-off Liss. 

" But if there be a greater yet, 
A king or god whom he doth fear, 
My service he shall no more get, 
My strength shall rust no longer here." 

The monk's face gladdened. " Go, now, go : 
To Modred go : he sitteth dumb. 
And broods on what he fain would know : 
And say, ' O King, the Cross is come! ' 

" Then shall the king arise in wrath, 
And bid you go from out his sight. 
For if he meet you on his path 
He'll leave you stark and still and white. 

" Thus shall he show, great king and all. 
He fears the glorious Cross of Christ, 
And dreads to hear slain voices call 
For vengeance on the sacrificed. 

179 



St. Christopher of tJie Gael 

" But, Nial, come not here again : 
Long before dawn my soul shall be 
Beyond the reach of any pain 
That Modred dreams to prove on me. 

" Go forth thyself at dawn, and say 
' This is Christ's holy natal morn, 
My king is He from forth this day 
When He to save mankind was born ' : 

" Go forth and seek a lonely place 
Where a great river fills the wild ; 
There bide, and let thy strength be grace, 
And wait the Coming of a Child. 

" A wondrous thing shall then befall: 
And when thou seek'st if it be true, 
Green leaves along thy staff shall crawl, 
With flowers of every lovely hue." 

The monk's face whitened, like sea-foam : 
Seaward he stared, and sighed " I go — 
Farewell — my Lord Christ calls me home ! " 
Nial stooped and saw death's final throe. 

An hour before the dawn he rose 
And sought out Modred, brooding, dumb; 
" O King," he said, " my bond I close. 
King Christ I seek : the Cross is come ! " 

1 80 



5"^ Christopher of the Gael 

Swift as a stag's leap from a height 
King Modred drew his dreadful sword: 
Then as a snow-wraith, silent, white, 
He stared and passed without a word. 

Before the flush of dawn was red 
A druid came to Nial the Great : 
" The doom of death hath Modred said, 
Yet fears this Christ's mysterious hate : 

" So get you hence, you giant-thewed man : 
Go your own way : come not again : 
No more are you of Modred's clan : 
Go now, forthwith, lest you be slain." 

Nial went forth with gladsome face ; 

No more of Modred's clan he was : 

"Now, now," he cried, "Christ's trail I'll 

trace. 
And nowhere turn, and nowhere pause." 

He laughed to think how Modred feared 
The wrath of Christ, the monk's white king: 
" A greater than Modred hath appeared, 
To Him my sword and strength I bring." 

All day, all night, he walked afar : 
He saw the moon rise white and still : 
The evening and the morning star: 
The sunrise burn upon the hill. 

i8i 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

He heard the moaning of the seas, 
The vast sigh of the sunswept plain, 
The myriad surge of forest-trees ; 
Saw dusk and night return again. 

At falHng of the dusk he stood 
Upon a wild and desert land : 
Dark fruit he gathered for his food, 
Drank water from his hollowed hand 

Cut from an ash a mighty bough 

And trimmed and shaped it to the half : 

" Safe in the desert am I now, 

With sword," he said, " and with this staff." 

The stars came out : Arcturus hung 

His ice-blue fire far down the sky : 

The Great Bear through the darkness swung: 

The Seven Watchers rose on high. 

A great moon flooded all the west. 
Silence came out of earth and sea 
And lay upon the husht world's breast. 
And breathed mysteriously. 

Three hours Nial walked, three hours and 

more: 
Then halted when beyond the plain 
He stood upon that river's shore 
The dying monk had bid him gain. 

182 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

A little house he saw : clay-wrought. 
Of wattle woven through and through : 
Then, all his weariness forgot. 
The joy of drowning-sleep he knew. 

Three hours he slept, and then he heard 
A voice — and yet a voice so low 
It might have been a dreaming bird 
Safe-nested by the rushing flow. 

Almost he slept once more: then. Hush! 
Once more he heard above the noise 
And tempest of the river's rush 
The thin faint words of a child's voice. 

" Good Sir, awake from sleep and dream, 
Good Sir, come out and carry me 
Across this dark and raging stream 
Till safe on the other side I be." 

Great Nial shivered on his bed : 
" No human creature calls this night, 
It is a wild fetch of the dead," 
He thought, and shrunk, and shook with 
fright. 

Once more he heard that infant-cry: 
" Come out, Good Sir, or else I droivn — 
Come out, Good Sir, or else I die 
And you, too, lose a golden crown." 

183 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

" A golden crown " — so Nial thought — 
" No — no — not thus shall I be ta'en ! 
Keep, ghost-of-the-night, your crown gold- 
wrought — 
Of sleep and peace I am full fain! " 

Once more the windy dark was filled 
With lonely cry, with sobbing plaint : 
Nial's heart grew sore, its fear was stilled, 
King Christ, he knew, would scorn him faint. 

" Up, up thou coward, thou sluggard, thou," 
He cried, and sprang from off his bed — 
" No crown thou seekest for thy brow, 
But help for one in pain and dread ! " 

Out in the wide and lonely dark 
No fetch he saw, no shape, no child: 
Almost he turned again — but hark! 
A song rose o'er the waters wild: 

A king am I 
Tho' a little Child, 
Son of God am I, 
Meek and mild, 
Beautiful 

Because God hath said 
Let my cup he full 
Of wine and bread. 
184 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

Come to me 

Shaken heart, 

Shaken heart! 

I will not flee. 

My heart 

Is thy heart 

O shaken heart! 

Stoop to my Cup, 

Sup, 

Drink of the wine: 

The wine and the bread, 

Saith God, 

Are mine — 

My Flesh atid my Blood! 

Throw thy sword in the flood: 

Come, shaken heart: 

Fearful thou art! 

Have no more fear — 

Lo, I am here. 

The little One, 

The Son, 

Thy Lord and thy King. 

It is I who sing: 
Christ, your King . . . 
Be not afraid: 
Look, I am Light, 
A great star 

185 



I 

St. Christopher of the Gael 

Seen from afar 

In the darkness of night: 

I am Light, 

Be not afraid . . . 

Wade, wade 

Into the deep flood! 

Think of the Bread, 

The Wine and the Bread 

That are my Flesh and Blood. 

Cross, cross the Flood, 

Sure is the goal „ . . 

Be not afraid 

O Soul, 

Be not afraid! 

Nial's heart was filled with joy and pain : 
** This is my king, my king indeed : 
To think that drown'd in sleep I've lain 
When Christ the Child-God crieth in need ! " 

Swift from his wattled hut he strode, 
Stumbling among the grass and bent, 
And, seeking where the river flowed, 
Far o'er the dark flood peered and leant: 

Then suddenly beside him saw 
A little Child all clad in white : 
He bowed his head in love and awe, 
Then lifted high his burthen light. 

i86 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

High on his shoulders sat the Child, 
While with strong limbs he fared among 
The rushing waters black and wild 
And where the fiercest currents swung. 

The waters rose more high, more high, 
Higher and higher every yard . . . 
Nial stumbled on with sob and sigh, 
Christ heard him panting sore and hard. 

"O Child," Nial cried, " forbear, forbear! 
Hark you not how these waters whirled! 
The weight of all the earth I bear, 
The weary weight of all the world ! " 

"Christopher!" . . . low above the noise, 
The rush, the darkness, Nial heard 
The far-ofif music of a Voice 
That said all things in saying one word — 

"Christopher . . . this thy name shall be! 
Christ-bearer is thy name, even so 
Because of service done to me 
Heavy with weight of the world's woe." 

With breaking sobs, with panting breath 
Chistopher grasped a bent-held dune, 
Then with flung staff and as in death 
Forward he fell in a heavy swoon. 

187. 



St. Christopher of the Gael 

All night he lay in silence there, 
But safe from reach of surging tide: 
White angels had him in their care, 
Christ healed and watched him side by side. 

When all the silver wings of dawn 
Had waved above the rose-flusht east, 
Christopher woke ... his dream was gone. 
The angelic songs had ceased. 

Was it a dream in very deed, 
He wondered, broken, trembling, dazed? 
His staff he lifted from the mead 
And as an upright sapling raised. 

Lo, it was as the monk had said — 
// he would prove the vision true. 
His staff would blossom to its head 
With flowers of every lovely hue. 

Christopher bowed : before his eyes 
Christ's love fulfilled the holy hour . . . 
A south-wind blew, green leaves did rise 
And the staff bloomed a myriad flower ! 

Christopher bowed in holy prayer, 
While Christ's love fell like healing dew : 
God's father-hand was on him there : 
The peace of perfect peace he knew. 

iP8 



THE CROSS OF THE DUMB 

A CHRISTMAS ON lONA, LONG, LONG AGO 

One eve, when St. Columba strode 

In solemn mood along the shore. 

He met an angel on the road 

Who but a poor man's semblance bore. 

He wondered much, the holy saint. 
What stranger sought the lonely isle. 
But seeing him weary and wan and faint 
St. Colum hailed him with a smile. 

" Remote our lone lona lies 
Here in the grey and windswept sea, 
And few are they whom my old eyes 
Behold as pilgrims bowing the knee. . . . 

" But welcome . = . welcome . . . stranger- 
guest. 
And come with me and you shall find 
A warm and deer-skinn'd cell for rest 
And at our board a welcome kind. , . . 

189 



The Cross of the Dumb 

" Yet tell me ere the dune we cross 
How came you to this lonely land? 
No curraghs in the tideway toss 
And none is beached upon the strand ! " 

The weary pilgrim raised his head 

And looked and smiled and said, '' From far, 

My wandering feet have here been led 

By the glory of a shining star. ..." 

St. Colum gravely bowed, and said, 
" Enough, my friend, I ask no more ; 
Doubtless some silence-vow was laid 
Upon thee, ere thou sought'st this shore: 

" Now, come : and doff this raiment sad 
And those rough sandals from thy feet: 
The holy brethren will be glad 
To haven thee in our retreat." 

Together past the praying cells 
And past the wattle-woven dome 
Whence rang the tremulous vesper bells 
St. Colum brought the stranger home. 

From thyme-sweet pastures grey with dews 
The milch-cows came with swinging tails : 
And whirling high the wailing mews 
Screamed o'er the brothers at their pails. 

190 



The Cross of the Dumb 

A single spire of smoke arose, 
And hung, a phantom, in the cold : 
Three younger monks set forth to close 
The ewes and lambs within the fold. 

The purple twilight stole above 
The grey-green dunes, the furrowed leas: 
And Dusk, with breast as of a dove, 
Brooded : and everywhere was peace. 

Within the low refectory sate 

The little clan of holy folk : 

Then, while the brothers mused and ate, 

The wayfarer arose and spoke. . . . 

" O Coliim of lona-Isle, 

And ye who dzvcll in God's quiet place. 

Before I crossed your narroiu kyle 

I looked in Heaven upon Christ's face." 

Thereat St. Colum's startled glance 
Swept o'er the man so poorly clad, 
And all the brethren looked askance 
In fear the pilgrim-guest was mad. 

" And, Coliim of God's Church i' the sea 
And all ye Brothers of the Rood, 
The Lord Christ gave a dream to me 
And bade me bring it ye as food. 

191 



The Cross of the Dumb 

"Lift to the wandering cloud your eyes 
And let them scan the wandering Deep. . . . 
Hark ye not there the wandering sighs 
Of brethren ye as outcasts keep?" 

Thereat the stranger bowed, and blessed; 
Then, grave and silent, sought his cell: 
St. Colum mused upon his guest, 
Dumb wonder on the others fell. 

At dead of night the Abbot came 
To where the weary wayfarer slept: 
"Tell me," he said, "thy holy name ..." 
— No more, for on bowed knees he wept. . . . 

Great awe and wonder fell on him; 
His mind was like a lonely wild 
When suddenly is heard a hymn 
Sung by a little innocent child. 

For now he knew their guest to be 
No man as he and his, but one 
Who in the Courts of Ecstasy 
Worships, flame-winged, the Eternal Son. 

The poor bare cell was filled with light, 
That came from the swung moons the Seven 
Seraphim swing day and night 
Adown the infinite walls of Heaven. 

192 



The Cross of the Dumb 

But on the fern-wove mattress lay 
No weary guest. St. Colum kneeled, 
And found no trace ; but, ashen-grey. 
Far ofif he heard glad anthems pealed. 

At sunrise when the matins-bell 
Made a cold silvery music fall 
Through silence of each lonely cell 
And over every fold and stall, 

St. Colum called his monks to come 
And follow him to where his hands 
Would raise the Great Cross of the Dumb 
Upon the Holy Island's sands. . . . 

" For I shall call from out the Deep 
And from the grey fields of the skies, 
The brethren we as outcasts keep, 
Our kindred of the dumb wild eyes. . . . 

" Behold, on this Christ's natal morn, 
God wills the widening of His laws. 
Another miracle to be born — 
For lo, our guest an Angel was! . . . 

" His Dream the Lord Christ gave to him 
To bring to us as Christ-Day food, 
That Dream shall rise a holy hymn 
And hang like a flower upon the Rood ! . . 

193 



The Cross of the Dumb 

Thereat, while all with wonder stared 
St. Colum raised the Holy Tree : 
Then all with Christ-Day singing fared 
To where the last sands lipped the sea. 

St. Colum raised his arms on high , . . 
" O ye, all creatures of the wing, 
Come here from out the fields o' the sky, 
Come here and learn a wondrous thing!" 

At that the wild clans of the air 
Came sweeping in a mist of wings — 
Ospreys and fierce solanders there, 
Sea-swallows wheeling mazy rings, 

The foam-white mew, the green-black scart. 
The famishing hawk, the wailing tern, 
All birds from the sand-building mart 
To lonely bittern and heron. . . . 

St. Colum raised beseeching hands 
And blessed the pastures of the sea: 
" Come, all ye creatures, to the sands, 
Come and behold the Sacred Tree!" 

At that the cold clans of the wave 
With spray and surge and splash appeared : 
Up from each wrack-strewn*, lightless cave 
Dim day-struck eyes affrighted peered. 

194 



The Cross of the Dumb 

The pollacks came with rushing haste, 
The great sea-cod, the speckled bass ; 
Along the foaming tideway raced 
The herring-tribes like shimmering glass: 

The mackerel and the dog-fish ran, 
The whiting, haddock, in their wake: 
The great sea-flounders upward span. 
The fierce-eyed conger and the hake : 

The greatest and the least of these 
From hidden pools and tidal ways 
Surged in their myriads from the seas 
And stared at St. Columba's face, 

" Hearken," he cried, with solemn voice — 
" Hearken ! ye people of the Deep, 
Ye people of the skies. Rejoice ! 
No more your soulless terror keep ! 

" For lo, an Angel from the Lord 
Hath shown us that wherein we sin — 
But now we humbly do His Word 
And call you, Brothers, kith and kin. . . . 

" No more we claim the world as ours 
And everything that therein is — 
To-day, Christ's-Day, the infinite powers 
Decree a common share of bliss. 

195 



The Cross of the Dumb 

" I know not if the new-waked soul 
That stirs in every heart I see 
Has yet to reach the far-off goal 
Whose symbol is this Cross-shaped Tree. . . 

" But, O dumb kindred of the skies, 

O kinsfolk of the pathless seas, 

All scorn and hate I exorcise. 

And wish you nought but Love and Peace ! 



Thus, on that Christmas-day of old 
St. Colum broke the ancient spell. 
A thousand years away have rolled, 
'Tis now ..." a baseless miracle." 

O fellow-kinsmen of the Deep, 
O kindred of the wind and cloud, 
God's children too . . . how He must weep 
Who on that day was glad and proud! 



\ 



196 



NAOI MIANNAIN 

Miann mna sithe, braon : 

Miann Sluagh, gaoth: 

Miann fitheach, full : 

Miann eunarag, an fasaich: 

Miann faoileag, faileagan mhara: 

Miann Bard, fith-cheol-min Ihuchd nan 

trnsganan uaine: 
Miann fear, gaol bhean : 
Miann mna, chlann beag: 
Miann anama, ais. 

Nine Desires 

The desire of the fairy women, dew: 

The desire of the fairy host, wind: 

The desire of the raven, blood : 

The desire of the snipe, the wilderness : 

The desire of the seamew, the lawns of the 

sea: 
The desire of the poet, the soft low music of 

the Tribe of the Green Mantles: 
The desire of man, the love of woman: 
The desire of women, the little clan: 
The desire of the soul, wisdom. 

197 



THROUGH THE IVORY 
GATE 



"Green thou would' st not be plucked, thy purple 
fruit I longed for. . . ." 

The Stephanos of Philippus. 

"Lci-bas, tout nous appelle. . . . Et, qui sait, tous 
les reves a realiser! . . . 

"A quoi ban les realiser . . . ils sont si beaux f" 

Axel. 

"Love is as a vapour that is licked up of the wind. 
Let whoso longeth after this lovely mist — that as a 
breath is, and is not — beware of this wind. There is 
no sorrow like unto the sorrow of this wind." 

Leabhran Mhor-Gheasadaireachd. 
(The Little Book of the Great Enchantment.) 

' ' The waves of the sea have spoken to me; the wild 
birds have taught me; the music of many waters has 
been my master." 

Kalevala. 



THE SECRET DEWS 

Poor little songs, children of sorrow, go. 
A wind may take you up, and blow you far. 
My heart will go with you, too, wherever 
you go. 

As the little leaves in the wood, they pass : 
The wind has lifted them, and the wind is gone. 
Have I too not heard the wind come, and 
pass? 

The secret dews fall under the Evening-Star, 
And there is peace I know in the west: yet, 
if there be no dawn, 
The secret dews fall under the Evening-Star. 



201 



THE ENCHANTED VALLEYS 

By the Gate of Sleep we enter the En- 
chanted \'alleys. 
White soundless birds fly near the twilit 
portals : 
Follow, and they lead to the Silent Alleys. 

Grey pastures are there, and hush'd spell- 
bound woods, 
And still waters, girt with unwhispering reeds : 
Lost dreams linger there, wan multitudes : 

They haunt the grey waters, the alleys dense 

and dim, 
The immemorial woods of timeless age. 
And where the forest leans on the grey 

sea's rim. 

Nothing is there of gladness or of sorrow : 
What is past can neither be glad nor sad : 
It is past : there is no dawn : no to-morrow. 



202 



THE VALLEY OF WHITE POPPIES 

Between the grey pastures and the dark 

wood 
A valley of white poppies is lit by the low 

moon: 
It is the grave of dreams, a holy rood. 

It is quiet there : no wind doth ever fall. 
Long, long ago a wind sang once a heart- 
sweet rune. 
Now the white poppies grow, silent and tall. 

A white bird floats there like a drifting leaf : 
It feeds upon faint sweet hopes and perishing 
dreams 
And the still breath of unremembering grief. 

And as a silent leaf the white bird passes. 
Winnowing the dusk by dim forgetful streams. 
I am alone now among the silent grasses. 



203 



THE VALLEY OF SILENCE 

In the secret Valley of Silence 

No breath doth fall ; 
No wind stirs in the branches ; 
No bird doth call : 
As on a white wall 

A breathless lizard is still, 
So silence lies on the valley 
Breathlessly still. 

In the dusk-grown heart of the valley 

An altar rises white : 
No rapt priest bends in awe 
Before its silent light: 
But sometimes a flight 

Of breathless words of prayer 
White-wing'd enclose the altar, 
Eddies of prayer. 



204 



DREAM MEADOWS 

Girt with great garths of shadow 
Dim meadows fade in grey : 
No moon Hghtens the gloaming, 
The meadows know no day: 
But pale shapes shifting 
From dusk to dusk, or lifting 
Frail wings in flight, go drifting 
Adown each flowerless way. 

These phantom-dreams in shadow 
Were once in wild-rose flame ; 
Each wore a star of glory, 

Each had a loved sweet name : 

Now they are nameless, knowing 
Nor star nor flame, but going 
Whither they know not, flowing 
Waves without wind or aim. 

But later through the gloaming 
The Midnight-Shepherd cries: 

The trooping shadows follow 
Making a wind of sighs: 

205 



Dream Meadows 

The fold is hollow and black; 
No pathway thence, no track; 
No dream ever comes back 
Beneath those silent skies. 



206 



GREY PASTURES 

In the grey gloaming where the white 

moth flies — 
When I, quiet dust on the forgetful wind, 
Shall be untroubled by any breath of 

sighs — 

It may be I shall fall like dew upon 
The still breath of grey pastures such as these 
Wherein I wander now 'twixt dusk and 
dawn. 

See, in this phantom bloom I leave a kiss : 
It was given me in fire ; now it is grey dust : 
Mayhap I may thrill again at the touch 
of this. 



207 



LONGING 

O would I were the cool wind that's blowing 

from the sea, 
Each loneliest valley I would search till I 

should come to thee. 

In the dew on the grass is your name, dear, 

i' the leaf on the tree — 
O would I were the cool wind that's blowing 

from the sea. 

O would I were the cool wind that's blowing 

far from me — 
The grey silence, the grey waves, the grey 

wastes of the sea. 



208 



THE SINGER IN THE WOODS 
" Were Memory but a voice. . . ." 

Where moongrey-thistled dunes divide the 

woods from the sea 
Sometimes a phantom drifts, like smoke, from 

tree to tree : 
His voice is as the thin faint song when the 

wind wearily 
Sighs in the grass, and sighing, dies : barely it 

comes to me. 

Sometimes I hear the sighing voice along the 

shadowy shore; 
Sometimes wave-borne it comes, as when on 

labouring oar 
Dying men sigh once, and die, at the closing 

of the door 
They hear below the muffled tides or the dull 

drowning roar. 

Sometimes he passes through the caves where 

twilight dies ; 
His voice like mist from a valley then doth 

rise, 

209 



The Singer in the Woods 

Or, in a windy flight of gathered sighs, 
Is blown like perishing smoke against the 
midnight skies. 

But oftenest in the dark woods I- hear him 
sing 

Dim, half-remembered things, where the old 
mosses cling 

To the old trees^ and the faint wandering ed- 
dies bring 

The phantom echoes of a phantom Spring. 

Lost in the dark gulf of the woods, his song 

sinks low : 
I listen : and hear only the long, inevitable, 

slow 
Falling of wave on wave, the sighing flow: 
In the silence I hear my heart sobbing its 

old woe. 



2IO 



BY THE GREY STONE 

It is quiet here : the wet hill-wind's sigh 
Sobs faintly, as though behind a curtain of 
thick grass. 
The vanishing curlew wails a fading cry. 

I can hear the least soft footfall pass. 
Is that the shrewmouse I hear, or does the 

night-moth whirr? 
I have waited so long, so long, so long, 

alas ! 

No one. No one. I hear no faintest stir. 
Yet Love spake once, with lips of flame and 

eyes of fire, 
With breath of burning frankincense and 

myrrh — 

Spake, and the vow was even as De- 
sire . . . 
Terrible, winged, magnific, crested with 
flame, 
So that I bowed before it, mounting 
gyre upon g>'re. . . . 

211 



By the Grey Stone 

I see now a grey bird by the grey stone 
of no name : 
It is blind and deaf, and its wings are tipped 
with mire. 

Is it Love's lordly vow or mine own bit- 
ter shame? 



212 



THE VALLEY OF PALE BLUE 
FLOWERS 

In a hidden valley a pale blue flower 
grows. 
It is so pale that in the moonshine it is dim- 
mer than dim gold, 
And in the starshine paler than the palest 
rose. 



It is the flower of dream. Who holds it 

is never old. 
It is the flower of forgetfulness : and oblivion 

is youth : 
Breathing it, flame is not empty air, dust 

is not cold. 

Lift it, and there is no memory of sorrow 

or any ruth ; 
The grey monotone of the low sky is filled 

with light ; 
The dim, terrible, inpalpable lie wears 

the raiment of truth. 

213 



The Valley of Pale Blue Flowers 

I lift it, now, for somewhat in the heart 
of the night 
Fills me with dread. It may be that, as a 
tiger in his lair, 
Memory, crouching, waits to spring into 
the light. 

No, I will clasp it close to my heart, over- 
droop with my hair : 
I will breathe thy frail faint breath, O pale 
blue flower. 

And then . . . and then . . . nothing 
shall take me unaware ! 

Nothing : no thought : no fear : only the 

invisible power 
Of the vast deeps of night, wherein down a 

shadowy stair 
My soul slowly, slowly, slowly, will sink 

to its ultimate hour. 



214 



REMEMBRANCE 

No mpre : let there be no more said. 
It is over now, the long hope, the beautiful 
dream. 
The poor body of love in his grave is laid. 

I had dreamed his shining eyes eternal, 

alas ! 
Now, dead love, I know, can never rise again. 
Never, never again shall I see even his 

shadow pass. 

A star has ceased 'to shine in my lonely 
skies. 
Sometimes I dream I see it shining in my 
heart. 
As a bird the windless pool over which it 
flies. 

No : no more : I will not say what I see, 
there : 
Sorrow has depths within depths . . . silence 
is best: 
Farewell, Dead Love : no more the same 
road we fare. 

215 



THE VEILED AVENGER 

(fragment) 

A Voice 

... I am He, 
The Veiled Avenger, I am clothed with 

shadow 
The silence and the shadow of your soul 
Where it has withered slowly from the Hght. 

Unseen Chorus 

The Veiled Avenger speaks. He knows him 
not. 

The Man 

I hear a honey voice that murmureth peace, 
Peace and oblivion. O ye secret doves 
That feed the mind with sweet and perilous 

breaths 
And murmur ever among gossamer dreams, 
Bring me the tidings out of the hidden place 
Wherein your wings wake fire. Come once 

again, wild doves 

216 



The Veiled Avenger 

Of Beauty and Desire and the Twin Flame ! 
Wild doves, wild doves, bear unto me the 

flame 
That rises moonwhite amid scarlet fire . . . 

{A lapwing wails.) 

melancholy bird, Dalua's messenger ! 

1 am too weary now for further thought. 

The Veiled Avenger 

Pillows of sleepless sorrow. . . . Bow your 

head. 
To-night I shall build up for you a place 
Where sleep shall not be silent and where 

dreams 
Shall whisper, and a little infinite voice 
Shall wail as a wailing plover in your ears. 
Then you shall know that shaken voice, and 

wake. 
Crying your own name. 

The Man 

Again, the wheeling cry 
Where in the dusk the lapwing slips and falls 
From ledge to ledge of darkness. 

Unseen Chorus 

He knoweth not 
His own bitter infinite cry we hear him cry! 

217 



THE BELLS OF SORROW 

It is not only when the sea is dark and chill 
and desolate 

I hear the singing of the queen who lives be- 
neath the ocean : 

Oft have I heard her chanting voice when 
noon swings wide his golden gate, 

Or when the moonshine fills the wave with 
snow-white mazy motion. 

And some day will it hap to me, when the 

black waves are leaping, 
Or when within the breathless green I see her 

shell-strewn door. 
The fatal bells will lure me where my sea- 

drown'd death lies sleeping 
Beneath the slow white hands of her who 

rules the sunken shore. 

For in my heart I hear the bells that ring 

their fatal beauty, 
The wild, remote, uncertain bells that chant 

their dim to-morrow ; . 

218 



The Bells of Sorrow 

The lonely bells of sorrow, the bells of fatal 

beauty, 
From lonely heights within my heart tolling 

their lonely sorrow. 



219 



THE UNKNOWN WIND 

"There is a wind that has no name." (Gaelic Saying.) 

When the day darkens, 
When dusk grows light, 
When the dew is falling, 

When Silence dreams. . . . 
I hear a wind 
Calling, calling 
By day and by night. 

What is the wind 
That I hear calling 
By day and by night, 

The crying of wind? 
When the day darkens. 
When dusk grows light. 
When the dew is falling? 



220 



CANTILENA MUNDI 

Where the rainbows rise through sunset rains 
By shores forlorn of isles forgot, 

A solitary Voice complains 

" The world is here, the world is not." 

The Voice the Wind is, or the sea, 

Or the Spirit of the sundown West: 

Or is it but a breath set free 

From off the Islands of the Blest? 

It may be : but I turn my face 

To that which still I hold so dear: 

And lo, the voices of the days — 

" The World is not, the World is here." 

'Tis the same end whichever way, 
And either way is soon forgot : 

" The World is all in all To-day, 

To-morrow all the World is not." 



221 



I 



LITTLE CHILDREN OF THE WIND 

I hear the little children of the wind 

Crying solitary in lonely places : 

I have not seen their faces 

But I have seen the leaves eddying behind. 

The little tremulous leaves of the wind. 



222 



IN THE SILENCES OF THE WOODS 

In the silences of the woods 

I have heard all day and all night 

The moving multitudes 

Of the Wind in flight. 

He is named Myriad: 

And I am sad 

Often, and often I am glad, 

But oftener I am white 

With fear of the dim broods 

That are his multitudes. 



223 



IN THE NIGHT 

O wind, why break in idle pain 
This wave that swept the seas 

Foam is the meed of barren dreams 
And hearts that cry for peace! 

Lift then, O wind, this heart of mine, 

And whirl aside in foam ; 
J\Jq — wander on, unchanging heart. 

The undrowning deeps thy home! 

Less than a billow of the sea 

That at the last doth no more roam, 

Less than a wave, less than a wave, 
This thing that hath no home. 
This thing that hath no grave. 



i 



224 



THE LORDS OF SHADOW 

Where the water whispers 'mid the shadowy 

rowan-trees 
I have heard the Hidden People hke the hum 

of swarming bees : 
And when the moon has risen and the brown 

burn ghsters grey 
I have seen the Green Host marching in 

laughing disarray. 

Dalua then must sure have blown a sudden 

magic air 
Or with the mystic dew have sealed my eyes 

from seeing fair: 
For the great Lords of Shadow who tread the 

deeps of night 
Are no frail puny folk who move in dread of 

mortal sight. 

For sure Dalua laughed alow, Dalua the fairy 

Fool, 
When with his wildfire eyes he saw me 'neath 

the rowan-shadowed pool : 

225 



The Lords of Shadow 

His touch can make the chords of Ufe a bit- 
ter jangUng tune, 

The false glows true, the true glows false, be- 
neath his moontide rune. 

The laughter of the Hidden Host is terrible to 

hear, 
The Hounds of Death would harry me at 

lifting of a spear: 
Mayhap Dalua made for me the hum of 

swarming bees 
And sealed my eyes with dew beneath the 

shadowy rowan-trees. 



226 



INVOCATION OF PEACE 

AFTER THE GAELIC 

Deep peace I breathe into you, 
O weariness, here : 
O ache, here ! 

Deep peace, a soft white dove to you; 
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you ; 
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you ! 
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you ; 
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you ; 
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you ; 
Deep peace, bkie wind of the south to you ! 
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you ; 
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you ; 
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you ; 
Deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you ; 
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you. 
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you ! 
Deep peace of the running wave to you, 
Deep peace of the flowing air to you, 
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you, 
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you ! 
Deep peace of the Yellow Shepherd to you, 

227 



1 



Invocation of Peace 

Deep peace of the Wandering Shepherdess to 

you, 
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you, 
Deep peace from the Son of Peace to you. 
Deep peace from the heart of Mary to you, 
From Briget of the Mantle 
Deep peace, deep peace ! 
And with the kindness too of the Haughty 

Father, 
Peace ! 

In the name of the Three who are One, 
And by the will of the King of the Elements, 
Peace ! Peace ! 



228 



THE DIRGE OF THE FOUR 
CITIES 



' ' There are jour cities that no mortal eye has seen 
but that the soul knows; these are Gorias, that is in 
the east; and Finias, that is in the south; and Murias, 
that is in the west; and Falias, that is in the north. 
And the symbol of Falias is the stone of death, which 
is crowned with pale fire. And the symbol of Gorias 
is the dividing sword. And the symbol of Finias is 
a spear. And the symbol of Murias is a hollow that 
is filled with water and fading light." 

The Little Book of the 
Great Enchantment. 



' ' Wind comes front the spring star in the East; fire 
from the summer star in the South; water front the 
autumn star in the West; wisdom, silence and death 
from the star in the North." 

The Divine Adventure. 



THE DIRGE OF THE FOUR CITIES 

" The four cities of the world that was: the sunken 
city of Murias, and the city of Gorias, and the city of 
Finias, and the city of F alias." {Ancient Gaelic 
Chronicle.) 

Finias and Falias, 

Where are they gone? 
Does the wave hide Murias — 

Does Gorias know the dawn? 
Does not the wind wail 

In the city of gems? 
Do not the prows sail 

Over fallen diadems 
And the spires of dim gold 
And the pale palaces 
Of Murias, whose tale was told 

Ere the world was old? 

Do women cry Alas! . . . 

Beyond Finias? 
Does the eagle pass 
Seeing but her shadow on the grass 

Where once was Falias : 
And do her towers rise 
Silent and lifeless to the frozen skies? 

231 



The Dirge of the Four Cities 

And do whispers and sighs 

Fill the twilights of Finias 
With love that has not grown cold 
Since the days of old? 

Hark to the tolling of bells 

And the crying of wind! 
The old spells 

Time out of mind, 
They are crying before me and behind ! 
I know now no more of my pain, 
But am as the wandering rain 
Or as the wind's shadow on the grass 
Beyond Finias of the Dark Rose : 
Or, 'mid the pinnacles and still snows 
Of the Silence of Falias, 
I go : or am as the wave that idly flows 
Where the pale weed in songless thickets 

grows 
Over the towers and fallen palaces 

Where the Sea-city was. 

The city of Murias. 



232 



FINIAS 

In the torch-lit city of Finias that flames on 

the brow of the South 
The Spear that divideth the heart is held in 

a brazen mouth — 

Arias the flame-white keeps it, he whose 

laughter is heard 
Where never a man has wandered, where 

never a god has stirred. 

High kings have sought it, great queens have 
sought it, poets have dreamed — 

And ever louder and louder the flame-white 
laughter of Arias streamed. 

For kingdoms shaken and queens forsaken 
and high hopes starved in their drouth. 

These are the torches ablaze on the walls of 
Finias that lightens the South. 

Forbear, O Arias, forbear, forbear — lift not 

the dreadful Spear — 
I had but dreamed of thee, Finias, Finias . . . 

now I am stricken . . . now I am here ! 



FALIAS 

In the frost-grown city of Falias lit by the 

falling stars 
I have seen the ravens flying like banners of 

old wars — 
I have seen the snow-white ravens amid the 

ice-green spires 
Seeking the long-lost havens of all old lost -il 

desires. 

O winged desire and broken, once nested in 

my heart, 
Canst thou, there, give a token, that, even now, 

thou art? 
From bitter war defeated thou too hadst 

flight afar. 
When all my joy was cheated ere set of 

Morning Star. 

Call loud ; O ancient Moirias, who dwellest in 

that place, 
Tell me if lost in Falias my old desire hath 

grace ? 

234 



Falias 

If now a snow-white raven it haunts the silent 

spires 
For the old impossible haven 'mid the old 

auroral fires? 



235 



GORIAS 

In Gorias are gems, 

And pale gold, 
Shining diadems 

Gathered of old 
From the long fragrant hair 
Of dead beautiful queens. 

There the reaper gleans 

Vast opals of white air : 
The dawn leans 

Upon emerald there : 
Out of the dust of kings j| 

The sunrise lifts a cloud of shim- 
mering wings. 

In Gorias of the East 

My love was born, 
Erias dowered with a sword 

And the treasures of the Morn — 
But now all the red gems 
And the pale gold 
Are as the trampled diadems 

Of the queens of old 

In Gorias the pale-gold. 

236 



Gorias 

Have I once heard the least, 

But the least breath, again? 
No : my love is no more fain 
Of Gorias of the East. 
Erias hath sheathed this sword 

Long, long ago. 
]\Ty heart is old . . . 
Though in Gorias are gems 
And pale gold. 



237 



MURIAS 

In the sunken city of Murias 
A golden Image dwells : 

The sea-song of the trampling waves ^ 

Is as muffled bells I 

Where He dwells, " 

In the city of Murias. 

In the sunken city of Murias 

A golden Image gleams: 
The loud noise of the moving seas 

Is as woven beams 

Where He dreams, 
In the city of Murias. 

In the sunken city of Murias, 

Deep, deep beneath the sea 
The Image sits and hears Time break 

The heart I gave to thee 

And thou to me, 
In the city of Murias. 

In the city of Murias, 

Long, oh, so long ago, 
Our souls were wed when the world 
was young; 

238 



Murias 

Are we old now, that we know 
This silent woe 
In the city of Murias? 

In the sunken city of Murias 

A graven Image dwells : 
The sound of our little sobbing prayer 

Is as muffled bells 

Where He dwells, 
In the city of Murias. 



239 



THE HOUR OF BEAUTY 



1 



"None hut God and I 

Knows what is in my heart." 

Sahara Song. 

"Wherever snow falls, or water flows, or birds fly, 
wherever day and night meet in twilight, wherever 
the blue heaven is hung by clouds, or sown with stars, 
wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wher- 
ever are outlets into celestial space, wherever is danger, 
and awe, and love, there is Beauty." 

Emerson. 



DIM FACE OF BEAUTY 

Dim face of Beauty haunting all the world, 
Fair face of Beauty all too fair to see, 
Where the lost stars adown the heavens are 
hurled, 

There, there alone for thee 

May white peace be. 

For here where all the dreams of men are 

whirled 
Like sere torn leaves of autumn to and fro, 
There is no place for thee in all the world, 

Who driftest as a star, 

Beyond, afar. 

Beauty, sad face of Beauty, Mystery, Wonder, 
What are these dreams to foolish babbling 

men? — 
Who cry with little noises 'neath the thunder 

Of ages ground to sand, 

To a little sand. 



243 



DREAMS WITHIN DREAMS 

I have gone out and seen the lands of Faery 
And have found sorrow and peace and 
beauty there, 
And have not known one from the other, but 
found each 
Lovely and gracious alike, delicate and 
fair. 

" They are children of one mother, she that is 
called Longing, 
Desire, Love," one told me: and another, 
" her secret name 
Is Wisdom : " and another, " they are not 
three but one : " 
And another, " touch them not, seek them 
not, they are wind and flame." 

I have come back from the hidden, silent 
lands of Faery 
And have forgotten the music of its an- 
cient streams : 
And now flame and wind and the long, grey, 
wandering wave 
And beauty and peace and sorrow are 
dreams within dreams. 

244 



A CRY ON THE WIND 

Pity the great with love, they are deaf, they 
are blind: 

Pity the great zvith love, time out of mind: 

This is the song of the grey-haired wandering 
wind 

Since Oisin's mother fled to the hill a spell- 
bound hind. 

Sorrow on love! was the sob that rose in her 

throat, 
/, that a zvoman was, now wear the wild 

fawn's coat: 
This is to lift the heart to leap like a wave 

to the oar. 
This is to see the heart flung back like foam 

on the shore. 

Have not the hunters heard them, Oisin and 

she together 
Like peewits crying on the wind where the 

world is sky and heather — 
The peewits that wail to each other, rising 

and wheeling and falling 
Till greyness of noon or darkness of dusk is 

full of a windy calling. 

245 



'A Cry on the Wind 

Pity the great zvith love, they are deaf, they 

are blind: 
Pity the great with love, time out of mind! 

sorrowful face of Deirclre seen on the hill ! 
Once I have seen you, once, beautiful, silent, 

still : 
As a cloud that gathers her robe like drifted 

snow 
You stood in the mountain-corrie, and 

dreamed on the world below. 

Like a rising sound of the sea in woods in the 
heart of the night 

1 heard a noise as of hounds, and of spears 

and arrows in flight: 
And a glory came Hke a flame, and morning 

sprang to your eyes — 
And the flame passed, and the vision, and I 

heard but the wind's sighs. 

Pity the great with love, they are deaf, they 

are blind: 
Pity the great with love, time out of mind! 

Last night I walked by the shore where the 

machar slopes : 
I drowned my heart in the sea, I cast to the 

wind my hopes. 

246 



A Cry on the Wind 

What is this thing so great that all the Chil- 
dren of Sorrow 

Are weary each morn for night, and weary- 
each night for the morrow ! 

Pity the great with love, they are deaf, they 
are blind: 

Pity the great with love, time out of mind: 

This is the song of the grey-haired ivandering 
wind 

Since Oisin's mother fled to the hill a spell- 
bound hind. 



247 



VALE, AMOR! 

We do not know this thing 

By the spoken word : 
It is as though in a dim wood 

One heard a bird 

Suddenly sing: 
Then, in the twinkhng of an eye 
A shadow glooms the earth and sky, 
And we stand silent, startled, in a changed 
mood. 

It is but a little thing 

The leaping sword, 
When in the startled silence of changed mood 

It comes as when a bird 

Doth suddenly sing. 
But thrust of sword or agony of soul 
Are alike swift and terrible and strong. 
And no foot stirs the dead leaves of that si- 
lent wood. 



248 



FLAME ON THE WIND 

wind without that moans and cries, O dark 

wind in my soul ! 

1 would I were the wet wild wind that's blow- 

ing to the Pole ! 
I'd seek the plunging bergs of ice to cool my 
flaming heart . . . 

O Flaming Heart, 
I'd drown you deep where the great ice- 
bergs roll ! 
I'd follow on thy beating wings the wings of 

the wild geese, 
I'd seek among the plunging hills the phan- 
tom-flight of peace . . . 
O is there peace for hearts of fire in gloom 
and cold and flight — 

Torches of night 
'Mid swaying bergs that grind the trampling 
seas? 

O wind without and rain without, O melan- 
choly choir 

Of tempest in the lonely night and tempest- 
whirled desire, 

249 



Flame on the Wind 

What if there be no peace amid the snow- 
clouds of the Pole . . . 

O Burning Soul, 
Can hills of ice assuage this whirling fire ! 

O wet wild wind bow down dark wings and 

winnow me away, 
Whirl me on mighty shadowy wings where's 

neither night nor day. 
Where 'mid the plunging bergs of ice may 
fade a whirling flame . . . 

O Heart of Flame! . . . 
'Mid dirges of white shapes that plunge and 
sway. 



250 



THE ROSE OF THE NIGHT 

There is an old mystical legend that when a soul 
among the dead woos a soul among the living, so that 
both may be reborn as one, the sign is a dark rose, or 
a rose of flame, in the heart of the night. 

The dark rose of thy mouth 

Draw nigher, draw nigher ! 
Thy breath is the wind of the south, 
A wind of fire, 
The wind and the rose and darkness, O Rose 
of my Desire ! 

Deep silence of the night, 

Husht like a breathless lyre. 
Save the sea's thunderous might, 
Dim, menacing, dire, 
Silence and wind and sea, they are thee, O 
Rose of my Desire! 

As a wind-eddying flame 

Leaping higher and higher, 
Thy soul, thy secret name, 

Leaps thro' Death's blazing pyre, 
Kiss me. Imperishable Fire, dark Rose, O 
Rose of my Desire! 

251 



I-BRASIL 

There's sorrow on the wind, my grief, there's 

sorrow on the wind, 

Old and grey ! 
I hear it whispering, calhng, where the last 

stars touch the sea, 
Where the cloud creeps down the hill, and the 

leaf shakes on the tree, 
There's sorrow on the wind and it's calling 

low to me 

Come away! Come away! 

There's sorrow in the world, O wind, there's 

sorrow in my heart 

Night and day: 
So why should I not listen to the song you 

sing to me? 
The hill cloud falls away in rain, the leaf 

whirls from the tree, 
And peace may live in I-Brasil where the last 

stars touch the sea 

Far away, far away. 



252 



LOVE AND SORROW 

Love said one morn to Sorrow 
" Lend me your robe of grey, 
And here is mine so gay : 
Please borrow, 

And each the other be until to-morrow." 

At morn they met and parted: 

Each had her own again; 

But each a new-felt pain; 
Broken-hearted, 
Love; and Sorrow, broken-hearted. 

Love sighed "No more Ell borrow: 
Ell never more be glad." 
..." Can Love be oh so sad," 

Sighed Sorrow : 

And so they kissed and parted on that 
morrow. 

But when these lovers parted 

God made them seem as one — 
"Eor so My will is done 

Among the broken-hearted," 

He said ; " O ye who are broken-hearted." 

253 



SONG-IN-MY-HEART^ 

Song-in-my-heart, my heart's sorrow, my 

delight, 
I hear a thin whistling as of a high arrow in 

flight 
Or when the wind suddenly leaps, leaving the 

grass snowy-white : 
Is it your voice, Song-in-my-heart, that calls 

to me to-night? 

It is dark here, my Love, my Pulse, my 
Heart, my Flame : 

Dark the night, dark with wind and cloud, the 
wind without aim 

Baffled and blind, the cloud low, broken, drag- 
ging, lame. 

And a stir in the darkness at the end of the 
room sighing my name, whispering my 
name ! 

Is that the sea calling, or the hounds of the 
sea, or the wind's hounds 

^ Oran-a-chridhe, "Song in my heart," a term of 
endearment. 

254 



Song-in-My-Heart 

Baffling billow on billow, wave into wave, 
with trampling sounds 

As of herds confusedly crowding gorges? — 
or with leaps and bounds 

The narwhals in the polar seas crashing be- 
tween ice-grown mounds? 

Great is that dark noise under the black north 

wind 
Out on the sea to-night : but still it is — still as 

the frost that bind 
The stark inland waters in green depths where 

icebergs grind — 
In this noise of shaking storm in my heart 

and this blast sweeping my mind. 



255 



MO BRON! 
(a song on the wind) 

O come across the grey wild seas, 

Said my heart in pain; 
Give me peace, give me peace, 

Said my heart in pain. 

This is the song of the Swan 
On the tides of the wind, 

The song of the wild Swan 
Time out of mind. 

O come across the grey wild seas, 

O give me a token ! 
My head is on my knees, 

My heart is broken. 

This is the song of the Heart 
On the tides of Sorrow : 

This is the song of my heart 
To-day and to-morrow. 

256 



SORROW 

The wrack is lapping in the pools, the sea's 
lip feels the sand, 
Upon the mussel-purple rocks the restless 
mews are wailing: 
The sinuous serpents of the tide are darkly 
twisting to the land : 
The west wind drinks the foam as east she 
comes a-saihng. 

(A whisper of the secret tides upon another 
coast, 
The windy headlands of the soul, the lone 
sands of the mind. . . . 
That whisper swells as of a congregating 
host, 
And I am as one frozen or deaf or blind.) 

O Tide that fills the little pools along the sun- 
set-strand, 
That sets the mews a-wailing above the 
wailing sea, 
Bring back, hold out, O flowing Tide, O with 
a saviour hand 
Restore the long-ebbed hopes, some frag- 
ment give to me.' 

257 



Sorrozv 

{Along the dim and broken coasts the tired 
mind knows its own. 
By day and night the silent tides are silent 
evermore: 
Around the headlands of the soul the great 
deeps moan, 
Or with dull thunders plunge from shore 
to shore.) 



258 



THE FOUNTS OF SONG 

" IVhat is the song I am singing?" 

Said the pine-tree to the wave : 

" Do you not know the song 

You have sung so long 

Down in the dim green alleys of the sea, 

And where the great blind tides go swinging 

Mysteriously, 

And where the countless herds of the billows 

are hurl'd 
On all the wild and lonely beaches of the 

world ? " 

" Ah, Pine-tree," sighed the wave, 

" I have no song but what I catch from thee : 

Far ofif I hear thy strain 

Of infinite sweet pain 

That floats along the lovely phantom land. 

I sigh, and murmur it o'er and o'er and o'er, 

When 'neath the slow compelling hand 

That guides me back and far from the loved 

shore, 
I wander long 

259 



The Founts of Song 

Where never falls the breath of any song, 
But only the loud, empty, crashing roar 
Of seas swung this way and that for ever- 
more." 

" What is the song I am singing f" 

Said the poet to the pine: 

" Do you not know the song 

You have sung so long 

Here in the dim green alleys of the woods 

Where the wild winds go wandering in all 

moods, 
And whisper often o'er and o'er. 
Or in tempestuous clamours roar 
Their dark eternal secret evermore ? " 

" Oh, Poet," said the Pine, 

" Thine 

Is that song! 

Not mine ! 

I have known it, loved it, long! 

Nothing I know of what the wild winds cry 

Through dusk and storm and night, 

Or prophesy 

When tempests whirl us with their awful 

might. 
Only, I know that when 
The poet's voice is heard 
Among the woods 

260 



The Founts of Song 

The infinite pain from out the hearts of men 
Is sweeter than the voice of wave or branch 

or bird 
In these dumb solitudes." 



261 



ON A REDBREAST SINGING AT THE 
GRAVE OF PLATO 

(in the grove of academe) 

The rose of gloaming everywhere ! 
And through the silence cool and sweet 
A song falls through the golden air 
And stays my feet — 
For there ! . . . 

This very moment surely I have heard 
The sudden, swift, incalculable word 
That takes me o'er the foam 
Of these empurpling, dim Ionian seas, 
That takes me home 
To where 

Far on an isle of the far Hebrides 
Sits on a spray of gorse a little home-sweet 
bird. 

The great white Attic poplars rise, 

And down their tremulous stairs I hear 

Light airs and delicate sighs. 

Even here 

Outside this grove of ancient olive-trees, 

Close by this trickling murmuring stream, 

262 



A Redbreast at the Cnwe of Plato 

Was laid long, long ago, men say, 

That lordly Prince of Peace 

Who loved to wander here from day to day, 

Plato, who from this Academe 

Sent radiant dreams sublime 

Across the troubled seas of time, 

Dreams that not yet are passed away. 

Nor faded grown, nor grey, 

But white, immortal are 

As that great star 

That yonder hangs above Hymettos' brow. 

But now 

It is not he, the Dreamer of the Dream, 

That holds my thought. 

Greece, Plato, and the Academe 

Are all forgot : 

It is as though I am unloosed by hands : 

My heart aches for the grey-green seas 

That hold a lonely isle 

Far in the Hebrides, 

An isle where all day long 

The redbreast's song 

Goes fluting on the wind o'er lonely sands. 

So beautiful, so beautiful 
Is Hellas, here. 
Divinely clear 
The mellow golden air, 

263 



A Redbreast at the Grave of Plato 

Filled, as a rose is full, 

Of delicate flame: 

And oh the secret tides of thought and dream 

That haunt this slow Kephisian stream ! 

But yet more sweet, more beautiful, more dear 

The secret tides of memory and thought 

That link me to the far-off shore 

For which I long — 

Greece, Plato, and the Academe forgot 

For a robin's song ! 



264 



THE BELLS OF YOUTH 

The Bells of Youth are ringing in the gate- 
ways of the South : 
The bannerets of green are now unfurled : 
Spring has risen with a laugh, a wild-rose in 
her mouth, 
And is singing, singing, singing thro' the 
world. 

The Bells of Youth are ringing in all the 

silent places. 

The primrose and the celandine are out: 

Children run a-laughing with joy upon their 

faces, 

The west wind follows after with a shout. 

The Bells of Youth are ringing from the 
forests to the mountains, 
From the meadows to the moorlands, 
hark their ringing! 
Ten thousand thousand splashing rills and 
fern-dappled fountains 
Are flinging wide the Song of Youth, and 
onward flowing, singing! 
265 



The Bells of Youth 

The Bells of Youth are ringing in the gate- 
ways of the South: 
The bannerets of green are now unfurled : 
Spring has risen with a laugh, a wild-rose in 
her mouth, 
And is singing, singing, singing thro' the 
world. 



1 

I 



266 



SONG OF APPLE-TREES 

Song of Apple-trees, honeysweet and mur- 
murous, 

Where the swallows flash and shimmer as 
they thrid the foamwhite maze, 

Breaths of far-off Avalon are blown to us, 
come down to us, 

Avalon of the Heart's Desire, Avalon of the 
Hidden Ways ! 

Song of Apple-blossom, when the myriad 

leaves are gleaming 
Like undersides of small green waves in foam 

of shallow seas, 
One may dream of Avalon, lie dreaming, 

dreaming, dreaming. 
Till wandering through dim vales of dusk the 

stars hang in the trees. 

Song of Apple-trees, honeysweet and mur- 
murous. 

When the night-wind fills the branches with 
a sound of muffled oars, 

267 



Song of Apple-Trees 

Breaths of far-off Avalon are blown to us, 

come down to us, 
Avalon of the Heart's Desire, Avalon of the 

Hidden Shores. 



268 



ROSEEN-DHU 

Little wild-rose of my heart, 

Roseen-dhu, Roseen-dhu ! 
Why must we part, 

Roseen-dhu ? 
To meet but to part again! 
Is it because we are fain 
Of the wind and the rain. 
Because we are hungry of pain, 

Roseen-dhu? 

Little wild-rose of my heart, 

Roseen-dhu, Roseen-dhu, 
Where / am, thou art, 

Roseen-dhu ! 
If summer come and go. 
If the wild wind blow. 
Come rain, come snow, 
If the tide ebb, if the tide flow, 

Roseen-dhu ! 

Little wild-rose of my heart, 

Roseen-dhu, Roseen-dhu . . 
Time poiseth his shadowy dart, 
Roseen-dhu ! 

269 



Roseen-Dliu 

What matter, O Roseen mochree, 
Since each is a wave on the sea — 
Since Love is as Hghtning for thee 
And as thunder for me, 
Roseen-dhu ! 



270 



THE SHREWMOUSE 

The creatures with the shining eyes 
That Hve among the tender grass 

See great stars falhng down the skies 
And mighty comets pass. 

Torches of thought within the mind 
Wave fire upon the dancing streams 

Of souls that shake upon them wind 
In rain of falhng dreams. 

The shrewmouse builds her windy nest 

And laughs amid the corn: 
She hath no dreams within her breast : 

God smiled when she was born. 



271 



THE LAST FAY 

I have wandered where the cuckoo fills 

The woodlands with her magic voice: 

I have wandered on the brows of hills 

Where the last heavenward larks rejoice: 

Far I have wandered by the wave. 

By shadowy loch and swaying stream, 

But never have I found the grave 

Of him who made me a wandering Dream. 

If I could find that lonely place 

And him who lies asleep therein, 

I'd bow my head and kiss his face 

And sleep and rest and peace would win. 

He made me, he who lies asleep 
Hidden in some forgotten spot 
Where winds sweep and rains weep 
And foot of wayfarer cometh not: 
He made me, Merlin, ages ago. 
He shaped me in an idle hour, 
He made a heart of fire to glow 
And hid it in an April shower ! 
For I am but a shower that calls 
A thin sweet song of rain, and pass: 

272 



The Last Fay 

Even the wind-whirled leaf that falls 
Lingers awhile within the grass, 
But I am blown from hill to vale, 
From vale to hill like a bird's cry 
That shepherds hear a far-off wail 
And wood folk as a drowsy sigh. 

And I am tired, whom Merlin made. 
I would lie down in the heart of June 
And fall asleep in a leafy shade 
And wake not till in the Faery Moon 
Merlin shall rise our lord and king, 
To leave for aye the tribes of Man, 
And let the clarion summons ring 
The kingdom of the Immortal Clan. 
If but in some green place I'd see 
An ancient tangled moss-like beard 
And half-buried boulder of a knee 
I should not flutter away a feared! 
With leap of joy, with low glad cry 
I'd sink beside the Sleeper fair : 
He would not grudge my fading sigh 
In the ancient stillness brooding there. 



273 



THE DIRGE OF "CLAN SIUBHAIL " 
(the wandering folk) 

Sorrow upon me on the grass and on the wan- 
dering road : 

My heart is heavy in the morn and heavier 
still at night. 

Sometimes I rest in a quiet place and lay me 
down my heavy load, 

And watch in the dewy valley the coming of 
light after light, 

Watch on the dusky hill and the darkening 
plain the coming of light after light. 

At dawn I am stirring again, and weary of 

the night : 
And all the morn and all the noon I lift my 

heavy load : 
At fall of day I see once more the coming 

of light after light: 
And night is as day and day is as night on 

the endless road — 
Sorrow upon me on the grass and on the 

wandering road. 

274 



THE EXILE 

It is not when the seamew cries above the 
grey-green foam 

Or circHng o'er the bracken-fields the flutter- 
ing lapwings fly, 

Or when above the broom and gale the lark 
is in his windy home 
That thus I long, and with old longing sigh. 

For I am far away now, and now have time 

for sighing, 
For sighing and for longing, where the grey 

houses stand. 
In dreams I am a seamew flying, flying, flying 
To where my heart is, in my own lost land. 

It is when in the crowded streets the rustling 

of white willows 
And tumbling of a brown hill-water obscure 

the noisy ways ; 
Then is the ache a bitter pain ; and to hear 

grey-green billows, 
Or the hill-wind in a broom-sweet place. 

275 



THE SHADOW 

" Do you hear the calling, Mary, down by the 
sea? 

Who is it callin', yonder, callin' to me ? 

Last night a shadow came up to the rowan- 
tree, 

And Muirnean, it whispered, Muirnean, I'm 
■waiting for thee! 

" Do you hear the calling, Mary, down by the 

shore ? 
Who is it callin', yonder, callin' sore? 
Last night I came in from the rowan an' shut 

the door. 
But some one without kept whisperin' the 

same thing o'er and o'er. 

" Do you hear the calling, Mary, here, close 

by? 
Who is it callin', whisperin', here, so nigh? 
Give me my shawl, Mary, an' don't whimper 

an' cry: 
I'm going out into the night, just to look at 

the sky." 

276 



The Shadow 

Mary — Mary — Mary — wailed the wind wear- 
ily : 

Mary — Mary — Mary — wailed the rain in the 
tree: 

One! Two! Three! ticked the clock — One! 
Two ! Three ! 

Out in the darkness rose the calling of the sea. 



277 



ORAN-BHROIN ^ 

{A crying in the wilderness as of a little child is the 
symbol of I st love) 

When all the West is blowing wild, 

Is blowing wild 
With tempest wings that fan the fire 
Of sunset to one awful pyre, 

I hear the crying of a child — 
The crying of a little child 
When all the West is blowing wild, 
Is blowing wild. 

The screaming scart, the wailing mew, 

The lone curlew, 
From shore and moor these voices rise : 
The grey wind roams through ashen skies : 
The West is all a blood-red hue : 
Out of the glistering moorland dew 
I hear a child's voice wail and rise 
In mournful cries. 

When all the West is blowing wild, 
Is blowing wild 

• A song of sorrow. 
278 



Oran-Bhroin 

And shrill and faint along the shore, 
By moor, or hill, and o'er and o'er 

A child's lament is tost on high 
It is a love that cannot die, 
A lost love weeping evermore 
While all the West is blowing wild, 
Is blowing wild. 



279 



AT THE COMING OF THE WILD 

SWANS 

By loch and darkening river, 

Above the salt sea-plains, 
Across the misty mountains 
Amid the blinding rains, 

In fierce or silent weather 

The wild swans southward fare, 
The wild swans swing together 
Through lonely fields of air, 
Crying Honk, Honk, Honk, 
Glugulii, ullalu, glugulu^ 
Honk! Honk! 

The seamew's lonely laughter 

Flits down the flowing wave, 
The green scarts follow after 

The surge where cross-tides rave: 
The sea-duck's mellow wailing 
Floats over sheltered places, 
And southward, southward sailing 
Go all the feathered races. . . . 
When the swans cry Honk, Honk, 
Glugulu, ullalu, glugulu. 
Honk! Honk! 

280 



\ 



At the Coming of the Wild Swans 

White spirits from the Northland, 

Grey clan of Storm and Frost, 
Wind-swooping to the Southland 
From icy-seas blast-tost. . . . 

Wild clan of sons and daughters, 
A welcome, now you are come 
When all your polar waters 
Are frozen, white, and dumb ! 
Crying Honk, Honk, Honk, 
Glugulu, ullalii, glugulu, 
Honk! Honk! 



281 



THE WEAVER OF SNOW 

In Polar noons when the moonshine glimmers, 

And the frost-fans whirl, 
And whiter than moonlight the ice-flowers 

grow, 
And the lunar rainbow quivers and shimmers, 
And the Silent Laughers dance to and fro, 

A stooping girl 

As pale as pearl 
Gathers the frost-flowers where they blow : 
And the fleet-foot fairies smile, for they know 

The Weaver of Snow. 

And she climbs at last to a berg set free, 

That drifteth slow: 
And she sails to the edge of the world we see : 
And waits till the wings of the north wind lean 
Like an eagle's wings o'er a lochan of green, 

And the pale stars glow 

On berg and floe. . . . 
Then down on our world with a wild laugh 

of glee 
She empties her lap full of shimmer and sheen. 
And that is the way in a dream I have seen 

The Weaver of Snow. 

282 



A SONG OF DREAMS 

One came to me in the night 

And said Arise! 
I rose, phantom-white; 
Far was my flight 
To a star shaken with Hght 

In the heart of the skies. 

Through seven spheres I fled, 

Opal and rose and white, 
Emerald, violet, red. 
Through azure was I led, 
And the coronal on my head 

With seven moons was bright. 

What wonder that the day 

Swings slowly through slow hours! 
My heart leaps when the grey 
Husht feet of Night are astray, 
And I hear her wild bells play 

On her starry towers. 



283 



EASTER 

The stars wailed when the reed was born, 
And heaven wept at the birth of the thorn : 
Joy was pluckt Hke a flower and torn, 
For Time foreshadowed Good-Friday Morn. 

But the stars laughed like children free 
And heaven was hung with the rainbow's glee 
When at Easter Sunday, so fair to see, 
Time bowed before Eternity. 



284 



WHEN THERE IS PEACE 

There is peace on the sea to-night 
Thought the fish in the white wave : 

There is peace among the stars to-night 
Thought the sleeper in the grave : 

There is peace in my heart to-night 
Sighed Love beneath his breath ; 

For God dreamed in the silence of His might 
Amid the earthquakes of death. 



285 



TIME 

I saw a happy Spirit 

That wandered among flowers: 
Her crown was a rainbow, 

Her gown was wove of hours. 

She turned with sudden laughter, 
/ was, but am no more! 

And as I followed after 
Time smote me on the brow. 



286 



INVOCATION 

Writteai in the Gulf of Lyons during a storm. 

Play me a lulling tune, O Flute-Player of 

Sleep. 
Across the twilight bloom of thy purple 

havens. 
Far off a phantom stag on the moon-yellow 

highlands 
Ceases ; and, as a shadow, wavers ; and passes : 
So let Silence seal me and Darkness gather, 

Piper of Sleep. 

Play me a lulling chant, O Anthem-Maker, 
Out of the fall of lonely seas, and the wind's 

sorrow : 
Behind are the burning glens of the sunset sky 
Where like blown ghosts the seamews wail 

their desolate sea-dirges : 
Make me of these a lulling chant, O Anthem- 
Maker. 

No — no — from nets of silence weave me, O 

Sigher of Sleep, 
A dusky veil ash-grey as the moon-pale moth's 

grey wing; 

287 



Invocation 

Of thicket-stillness woven, and sleep of grass, 

and thin evanishing air 
Where the tall reed spires breathless — for I 

am tired, O Sigher of Sleep, 
And long for thy muffled song as of bells on 
the wind, and the wind's cry 

Falling, and the dim wastes that lie 
Beyond the last, low, long, oblivious 
sigh. 



288 



THE SECRET GATE 

From out the dark of sleep I rose, on the 

wings of desire : 
" Give me the joy of sight," I cried, "O Mas- 
ter of Hidden Fire!" 

And a Voice said : IV ait 
Till you pass the Gate. 

" Give me the joy of sight," I cried, "O Mas- 
ter of Hidden Fire ! 
By the flame in the heart of the soul, grant 
my desire ! " 

And a Voice said : Wait 
Till you pass the Gate. 

I shook the dark with the tremulous beat of 

my wings of desire: 
" Give me but once the thing I ask, O Master 
of Hidden Fire ! " 

And a Voice said: irait! 
You have reached the Gate. 

I rose from flame to flame on pinions of desire : 
And I heard the voice of the Master of Hid- 
den Fire : 

Behold the Flaming Gate, 

Where Sight doth wait! 

289 



The Secret Gate 

Like a wandering star I fell through the deeps 

of desire, 
And back through the portals of sleep the 
Master of Hidden Fire 
Thundered : Await 
The opening of the Gate! 

But now I pray, now I pray, with passionate 

desire : 
" Blind me, O blind me. Master of Hidden 
Fire, 

I supplicate, 

Ope not the Gate." 



290 



THE MYSTIC'S PRAYER 

Lay me to sleep in sheltering flame, 
O Master of the Hidden Fire ! 

Wash pure my heart, and cleanse for me 
My soul's desire. 

In flame of sunrise bathe my mind, 
O Master of the Hidden Fire, 

That, when I wake, clear-eyed may be 
My soul's desire. 



291 



I 



DRAMAS 



To whose editorial hospitality I have so often 
been indebted; and whose Undine following upon 
The Idea of Tragedy shows that the dramatic poet 
and the critic of imaginative drama can be one. 

To 

W. L. Courtney. 



FOREWORD 



// is Destiny, then, that is the Protagonist in the 
Celtic Drama. . . . And it is Destiny, that sombre 
Demogorgon of the Gael, whose boding breath, whose 
menace, whose shadow glooms so much of the remote 
life I know, and hence glooms also this book of in- 
terpretations: for pages of life must either be inter- 
pretative or merely documentary, and these following 
pages have for the most part been written as by one 
who repeats, with curious insistence, a haunting, 
familiar, yet ever wild and remote air, whose obscure 
meanings he would fain reiterate, interpret." 

{From the Prologue to The Sin-Eater.) 



FOREWORD 

In these short dramas I have attempted to 
give voice to two elemental emotions, the emo- 
tion of the inevitableness of destiny and the 
emotion of tragical loveliness. One does not 
need to know the story of Midir and Etain, 
of Concobar and Deirdre, of Deirdre and the 
Sons of Usna, in order to know the mystery 
and the silent arrivals of destiny, or to know 
the emotion of sorrow at the passage of beau- 
ty : as one does not need to know the story of 
Iphigenia in Aulis in order to know the emo- 
tion of indignation at kingly guile or the 
emotion of pity for the betrayed : as one does 
not need to know the story of the Crozvncd 
Hippolytos in order to know the emotion of 
tragical suspense, as when Phaedra's love for 
the son of her husband is like a leaf on the 
wind ; or in order to know the emotion of 
bewildered futility, as when Theseus curses 
and banishes his innocent son and persuades 
to him the doom of Poseidon. For these emo- 
tions are not the properties of drama, which 
is but a fowler snaring them in a net. These 

297 



Foreword 

deep elementals are the obscure Chorus which 
plays upon the silent flutes, upon the nerves 
wherein the soul sits enmeshed. They have 
their own savage or divine energy, and the 
man of the woods and the dark girl of the 
canebrakes know them with the same bowed 
suspense or uplifted lamentation or joy as do 
the men and women who have great names 
and to whom the lords of the imagination have 
given immortality. 

Many kings have desired, and the gods for- 
bidden. Concobar has but lain down where 
Caesars have fallen and Pharaohs closed im- 
perial eyes, and many satraps and many ty- 
rants have bent before the wind. All old men 
who in strength and passion rise up against 
the bitterness of destiny are the kindred of 
Lear : those who have kept love as the crown 
of years, and seen it go from them like a 
wreath of sand, are of the kin of Concobar. 
There is not one Lear only, or one Concobar, 
in the vast stage of Hfe: but a multitude of 
men who ask, in the dark hour of the Winged 
Destiny, Am I in truth a king? or who, in- 
credulous, whisper Deirdre is dead, Deirdre 
the beautiful is dead, is dead. 

The tradition of accursed families is not the 
fantasy of one dramatist or of one country or 
of one time. The Oresteia of Aischylos is no 

298 



Foreword 

more than a tragic fugue wherein one hears 
the cries of uncountable threnodies. The 
doom of the clan of Usna is not less veiled 
in terror and perpetuated in fatality than the 
doom of the Atreidai : and even " The Fall of 
the House of Usher " is but a single note of 
the same ancient mystery' over which Sopho- 
cles brooded in the lamentations which eddy 
like mournful winds around the House of 
Labdacus. 

Whether the poet turn to the tragedy of 
the Theban dynasty wherein Laios and lokaste 
and Oidipus move like children of lire in a 
wood doomed to flames ; or to the tragedy of 
the Achaian dynasty, wherein Pelops and 
Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaos, Helen and 
Iphigenia, Klytaemnestra prophesying and the 
prophet Kalchas, are like shadowy figures, 
crowned with terror and beauty, on the verge 
of a dark sea where the menace of an obscure 
wind is continually heard beyond the enchant- 
ed shore ; or to the tragedy of Lear weeping, 
where all kingship seems as a crown left in 
the desert to become the spoil of the adder 
or a pillow for wandering dust ; or to the Cel- 
tic tragedy of the House of Fionn, where 
Dermid and Crania, where Oisin and Mal- 
veen, are like the winds and the waters, the 
rains and the lamentations of the hills; or to 

299 



Foreword 

that other and less familiar Gaelic tragedy of 
the House of Usna, where an old king knows 
madness because of garnered love spilt and 
wasted, and where a lamp of deathless beauty 
shines like a beacon, and where heroes die as 
leaves fall, and where a wind of prophesying 
is like the sound of dark birds flying over 
dark trees in the darkness of forgotten woods : 
— whether one turn to these, or to the doom 
of the House of Malatesta, or to the doom of 
the House of Macbeth, or to the doom of tlie 
House of Ravenswood, one turns in vain if he 
be blind and deaf to the same elemental forces 
as they move their eternal ichor through the 
blood that has to-day's warmth in it, that are 
the same powers though they be known of 
the obscure and the silent, and are committed 
like wandering flame to the torch of a ballad 
as well as to the starry march of the com- 
pelling words of genius ; are of the same do- 
minion, though that be in the shaken hearts 
of islesfolk and mountaineers, and not with 
kings in Mykenai, or by the thrones of Tam- 
burlaine and Aurungzebe, or with great lords 
and broken nobles and thanes. 

But the poet, the dramatist, is not able — is 
not yet able — to express in beauty and convey 
in symbol the visible energy of these emotions 
without resort to the artifice of men and 

300 



Foreword 

women set in array, with harmonious and 
arbitrary speech given to them, and a back- 
ground of illusion made unreal by being made 
emphatic. 

If one were to express the passion of re- 
morse under the signal of a Voice lamenting, 
or the passion of tears under the signal of a 
Cry, and be content to give no name to these 
protagonists and to deny them the background 
of history or legend : and were to unite them 
in the sequence of significant and essential 
things which is drama in action, but in a se- 
quence of suggestion and symbol rather than 
of statement and pageant : he would be told 
that he had mistaken the method of music 
passing into drama for the method of verbal 
illusion passing into drama. 

And, while this is so, it cannot be gainsaid 
that he must not seek to disengage from the 
creature of his imagination these old allies, the 
intimate name and the familiar circumstance. 
It may be true that a Voice and a Cry may 
suffice, not as choric echo or emphasis, but as 
protagonists in a drama where the passions 
and energies and unveiled emotions are un- 
loosed, and elemental strives with elemental, 
till Love and Terror may in very weariness 
lie down together, and Death and Sorrow and 
Wrath and Lamentation disclose their own 

301 



Foreword 

august nakedness, beings standing apart from 
the mortal wrappings of words and action, of 
silence and sound and colour and shape, to 
which our mind compels them. But that is 
too subtle a dream for realisation to seem pos- 
sible yet. It is too subtle perhaps even as the 
insubstantial phantom of a dream, save for 
those who, hungering after the wild honey of 
the mind and thirsting for the remoter springs, 
foresee a time when the imagination shall lay 
aside words and pigments and clay, as rai- 
ment needless during the festivals of the spirit, 
and express itself in the thoughts which in- 
habit words — as light inhabits water or as 
greenness inhabits grass ; and in the colours 
which inhabit pigments, as wild-roses and' 
dew-wet laburnum and white and purple iris 
gathered from a June morning and hidden in 
earthenware jars ; and in the perpetual and 
protean energy of Form which, tranced and 
unique, dreams in clay or sleeps in marble or 
ivory. 

But so long as the imagination dwells in 
this old convention which imposes upon us the 
use of events that chime to the bells of the 
past, and the use of names which are at once 
congruous and traditional ... in this con- 
vention of episode and phrase in the concert 
of action and suspense ... it will be well 

302 



Fore-word 

ever and again to turn to those ancestral 
themes past which so many generations have 
slipt Hke sea-going winds over pastures, and 
upon which the thoughts of many, minds have 
fallen in secret dews. I do not say, for I do 
not so think, that there might not be drama 
as moving whether it deal with the event of 
to-day and the accent of the hour as with a re- 
mote accent recovered and with remote event. 
Some of the dramas of Browning, some of the 
finer French dramas, some of the short plays 
of Mr. Yeats and others, are to the point. But, 
to many minds, there must always be a su- 
preme attraction in great themes of drama as 
familiar to us as the tales of faerie and won- 
•der to the mind of childhood. The mind, 
however, need not be bondager to formal tra- 
dition. I know one who can evoke modern 
dramatic scenes by the mere iterance of the 
great musical names of the imagination . . . 
Menelaos, Helen, Klytaemnestra, Andro- 
mache, Kassandra, Orestes, blind Oidipus, 
Elektra, Kreusa, and the like. This is not be- 
cause these names are in themselves esoteric 
symbols, or are built of letters of revelation as 
the fabled tower of Ys was built of evocatory 
letters made of wind and water, of brownness 
of earth, of greenness of grass, and of dew, 
all of which the druids held in the hollows of 

303 



Foreword 

the five vowels. My friend has not seen any 
representation of the Agamemnon or the 
Chocphoroi, of Aias or Oidipus at Kolonos, of 
Elektra or Ion, or indeed of any Greek play. 
But he knows the story of every name men- 
tioned in each of the dramas of the three 
kings of Greek Tragedy. So, as he says, why 
should he go out to see a trivial play of triv- 
ial people animated by trivial emotions against 
a background of trivial circumstance, when he 
can sit before his fire and see Elektra and 
Orestes standing appalled before the dead 
body of Klytaemnestra, listening if the coming 
steps are the steps of murdered Aigisthos, and 
cowering when they see the pale immortal 
faces of the Dioskoroi : or see Oidipus, that" 
proud king, when he hears the first terrible 
whisper of destiny from the lips of the prophet 
Teiresias, or when, blind and abased, he lies in 
the dust, with lokaste, wife and queen and 
revealed mother, already 'a silent fruit on the 
tree of death,' while, beyond, the Chorus raves : 
or when, as in Aias (as our Cuchulain fight- 
ing the waves with drawn sword and foam on 
his lips, or Concobar in the legendary tale 
that on the day of the Crucifixion he ran into 
the woods lopping great branches from the 
trees and calling 'A king is fallen to-day, an 
innocent king is slain, a great king is fallen !') 

304 



Foreword 

the mad prince runs among a herd of cattle and 
slaughters the lowing bulls, thinking them to 
be .Agamemnon and Menelaos — or, later, when 
he stands subtly smiling as though acquiescing 
to the fair words of Tekmessa, and then with 
sidelong eyes goes furtively to the solitary 
place where he may fall upon his sword ? Or, 
again, he may see Klytaemnestra entering the 
doorway, with Elektra and Orestes waiting 
with beating hearts, not as either Euripides or 
Aischylos has revealed to us ; or may see Oidi- 
pus staring with sudden scornful wrath at 
Teiresias, not as either Aischylos or Sophocles 
has revealed to us ; but a Klytaemnestra, an 
Elektra, an Orestes, an Oidipus, a Teiresias, 
as revealed to his own vision that is of to- 
day, shaped from the mould that moulds the 
spirit of to-day and coloured with the colour 
of to-day's mind. And here, he says, is his de- 
Hght. "For I do not live only in the past, but 
in the present, in these dramas of the mind. 
The names stand for the elemental passions, 
and I can come to them through my own gates 
of to-day as well as through the ancient por- 
tals of Aischylos or Sophocles or Euripides: 
and for background I prefer the flame-light 
and the sound of the wind to any of the crude 
illusions of stagecraft." 

It is no doubt in this attitude that Racine, 

305 



Foreword 

so French in the accent of his classical genius, 
looked at the old drama which was his in- 
spiration : that Mr. Swinburne and Mr. 
Bridges, so English in the accent of their 
genius, have looked at it; that Echegaray, in 
Spain, looked at it before he produced his 
troubled modern Elektra which is so remote 
in shapen thought and coloured semblance 
from the colour and idea of its prototype ; that 
Gabriele D'Annunzio looked at it before he 
became obsessed with the old terrible idea of 
the tangled feet of Destiny, so that a tuft of 
grass might withhold or a breath from stirred 
dust empoison, and wrote that most perturb- 
ing of all modern dramas, La Citta Morta. 

It concurs, then, that there is no inherent 
reason why a poet of to-day should not over- 
take the same themes as Aischylos overtook 
from Phrynicus, and Sophocles from Aischy- 
los, and Euripides from all three, and Philocles 
and Agathon and Xenocles indiscriminately. 
The difficulty is not in the remoteness of the 
theme, still less in the essential substance. It 
is in the mistaken idea that the ancient formal 
method is inevitable, and in the mistaken idea 
that a theme sustained on essential and ele- 
mental things and therefore independent of 
unique circumstance can be exhausted by the 
flashing upon it of one great light. Kassandra 

' 306 



Foreword 

and Helen and Iphigenia . . . they live : they 
are not dead. But, to approach them, to come 
face to face with them, that is not the reward 
of the most eager mind, or of the most up- 
lifted desire: it is the reward only of genius 
akin in quality at least with that of those great 
ones of old who, like drifting Pharos, flashed 
across the dark seas of antiquity a dazzling il- 
lumination on this lifted wave called Helen, 
on that lifted wave called Andromache, on 
these long rolling billows called Agamemnon 
or Aias or Orestes. It is not the themes that 
have receded but the imaginations that have 
quailed. 

Merely to parody the Greek tragedians, by 
taking a great theme and putting one's pre- 
sumption and weakness beside it — that is an- 
other thing altogether. It is difficult after 
Shelley and Robert Browning, after Mr. Swin- 
burne and Mr. Robert Bridges, to say that no 
modern English poet has achieved a play with 
a Greek heart ... no play written as a nine- 
teenth century Sophocles or Euripides or 
Agathon would have written it. Even on 
Prometheus Unbound and Atalanta in Caly- 
don, even on Erechthcus, the Gothic genius of 
the North has laid a touch as delicate as frost, 
as durable as the finger of primeval fire on the 
brows of the immemorial rock. Perhaps the 

307 



Foreword 

plays of Mr. Bridges are more truly classical 
than any modern drama since Racine. But 
their flame is flame seen in a mirror : we see 
the glow, we are intellectually warmed by it, 
but we do not feel it . . . our minds only, not 
our hearts that should burn, our nerves that 
should thrill, respond. 

The reason, I do not doubt, is mainly a 
physical rather than an intellectual difficulty. 
It is the indwelling difficulty. It is the in- 
dwelling spirit and not the magnetic mind that 
is wayward and eager to evade the compelling 
wand of the imagination. For the spirit is 
not under the spell of tradition. It wishes to 
go its own way. Tradition says, if you would 
write of the slaying of Klytaemnestra you must 
present a recognisable Elektra and a recognis- 
able Orestes, and Dioskoroi recognisable as 
Dioskoroi against a recognisable background : 
but to the spirit Elektra and Orestes are sim- 
ply abstract terms of the theatre of the imag- 
ination, the Dioskoroi are august powers, 
winnowers of fate, and the old Greek back- 
ground is but a remembered semblance of a 
living stage that is not to-day what it was yes- 
terday or shall be to-morrow, and yet is ever 
in essentials the same. 

There is not one of the Greek dramas which 
might not in spiritual identity be achieved to- 

308 



Foreword 

day by genius that, with equaHty of power, 
could perceive the intransiency of the essential 
and immortal factors in the life of the imagin- 
ation and the mutability of what is accidental 
in time and circumstance. 

We are, I believe, turning toward a new 
theatre. The theatre of Ibsen, and all it 
stands for, is become outworn as a compelling 
influence. Its inherent tendency to demon- 
strate intellectually from a series of incontro- 
vertible material facts is not adequate for 
those who would see in the drama the means 
to demonstrate symbolically from a sequence 
of intuitive perception. A subtle French 
critic, writing of the theatre of Ibsen, appre- 
ciates it as a theatre more negative than posi- 
tive, more revolutionary than foundational, 
more intellectual than religious. " A ce 
theatre amer et sec," he adds, "I'ame moderne 
ne peut etancher toutes ses soifs d'infini et 
d'absolu." 

I think that, there, the right thing is said, 
as well as the significant indication given. 
" More intellectual than religious " : that is, 
more congruous with the method of the mir- 
ror that gathers and reveals certain facets of 
the spirit than with the spirit who as in a glass 
darkly looks into the mirror. " More intellec- 
tual than religious " : that is, more persuaded 

309 



Foreword 

by the sight that reveals the visible than by the 
vision that perceives what materially is not 
visible. " At this bitter and dry theatre of the 
intellect, the modern soul cannot quench its 
thirst for the infinite and absolute " : and that 
is the reason, alone adequate, v^hy to-day the 
minds of men are turning to a new drama, 
wherein thoughts and ideas and intuitions 
shall play a more significant part than the 
acted similitudes of the lesser emotions that 
are not so much the incalculable life of 
the soul as the conditioned energies of the 
body. The Psychic Drama shall not be less 
nervous; but the emotional energy shall 
be along the nerves of the spirit, which sees 
beneath and above and beyond, rather than 
merely along the nerves of material life, 
which sees only that which is in the line of 
sight. 

And as I have written elsewhere, it may 
well be that, in a day of outworn conventions, 
many of us are ready to turn gladly from the 
scenic illusions of the stage carpenter and the 
palpable illusions of the playwright, to the 
ever-new illlusions of the dreaming mind, 
woven in a new intense dramatic reality against 
" imagined tapestries " 

. . . dream-coloured dramas of the mind 
Best seen against imagined tapestries . . . 

310 



Foreword 

against revealing shadows and tragic glooms 
and radiances as real, and as near, as the 
crude symbols of painted boards and stereo- 
typed phrase in which we still have a receding 
pleasure. 

I think the profoundest utterance I know, 
witnessing to the fundamentally psychical na- 
ture of the drama, is a phrase of Chateau- 
briand which I came upon recently in Book 
V of his Memoires ..." to recover the 
desert I took refuge in the theatre." The 
whole effort of a civilisation become anaemic 
and disillusioned must be to " recover the 
desert." That is a central truth, perceived 
now of many who are still the few. This 
great writer knew that in the theatre de 
I'dme lay the subtlest and most searching 
means for the imagination to compel reality 
to dreams, to compel actuality to vision, to 
compel to the symbolic congregation of words 
the bewildered throng of wandering and illu- 
sive thoughts and ideas. By " the desert " he 
meant that wilderness, that actual or symbolic 
solitude, to which the creative imagination 
goes as the curlew to the wastes or as the mew 
to foam and wind. 

Other writers speak of " nature " and " soli- 
tude" as though regarding them as sanctuaries 
where the passions may, like the wild falcons, 

3H 



Foreword 

cover their faces with tlieir wings, and be still. 
Chateaubriand was of those few who look 
upon the solitudes of nature as enchanted 
lands, where terror walks with beauty, and 
where dreams start affrighted from quiet 
pools because the shadow of invisible fear falls 
past their shadowy hair and they see the phan- 
tom slipping from depth to depth as a wind- 
eddy from leaf to leaf. He was of those who 
looked upon solitude as, of old, anchorites 
looked upon waste places where the vulture 
had her eyrie and the hyena wailed and in 
desolate twilights the lioness filled the dark 
with the hunger of her young. " Be upon 
your guard against solitude: the great pas- 
sions are solitary, and to transport them to 
the desert is to restore them to their tri- 
umph." 

But I have wandered from the narrower 
path on which I set out. Elsewhere, I hope 
to express more adequately what here I have 
cursorily outlined, and, also tentatively to il- 
lustrate the Psychic Drama as thus indicated. 
It is because my mind is occupied with many 
problems of a new drama that I have thus 
burdened a short play, remembered as it were 
from some vast unwritten ancient drama, with 
so lengthy a preface. However, it may stand 
as the statement of a movement of return on 

312 



Foreword 

the part of individual thought, that I believe 
to be indicative of a movement of return on 
the part of modern thought, to the instinct of 
organic unity and ... in the deep sense of 
the term ... to a religious inspiration. 

F. M. 



313 



THE IMMORTAL HOUR 
A DRAMA 



NOTE 

The Immortal Hour is founded on the an- 
cient Celtic legend of Midir and Etain (or 
Edane). I have no doubt that the legend, 
though only honey for the later Gaelic poets, 
had originally a deep significance, and that the 
Wooing to the Othervvorld . . , i.e., to the 
Gaelic Tir na 'n Og, the Land of Youth, of 
the Ever Living, of Love, the Land of Heart's 
Desire ... of the beautiful woman Etain, 
wife of King Eochaidh, symbolised another 
wooing and another mystery than that alone 
of the man for the woman. It symbolised, I 
think, the winning of life back to the world 
after an enforced thraldom: the renewal of 
Spring: in other words, Etain is a Gaelic Eu- 
rydice, Midir a Gaelic Orpheus who pene- 
trated the dismal realm of Eochaidh, and 
Eochaidh but a humanised Gaelic Dis. It is not 
Persephone, gathering flowers on Enna, whom 
legend remembers here, but the not less beau- 
tiful love of Apollo's son, slain by the treach- 
erous earth in the guise of a grass-hid asp as 
she flees from her pursuer : nor is there word 

Z^7 



Note 

of Demeter, nor yet of Aristseus. To the 
Gaelic mind, remembering what it had 
dreamed in the Vale of Tempe (or in Asian 
valleys, long before the Song-Charmer had a 
Greek muse for mother and a birthright in 
Hellas) the myths of Persephone and Eury- 
dice might well be identified, so that Orpheus 
sought each or both-in-one, in the gloomy un- 
derworld. And the tale suffered no more 
than a sea-change when, by the sundown 
shores, it showed Eurydice-Persephone as 
Etain being wooed back to sunshine and glad 
life by the longing passion of Orpheus as 
Midir. For in the Gaelic mythology, Midir, 
too, is a son of light, a servant of song, 
a son of Apollo, being of the divine race of 
Oengus the Sun-God, Lord of Life and Death. 
By his symbol of the dew he is also the Re- 
storer, the Reviver. 

Of Dalua I can say but a word here.^ He 
is the Amadan-Dhu, or Dark Fool, the Faery 
Fool, whose touch is madness or death for any 
mortal : whose falling shadow even causes 
bewilderment and forgetfulness. The Fool is 

* The name Dalua and Etain should be pro- 
nounced Da-lod-d, and Eh-tain (short, as in satin). 
The name of Eochaidh, who later wins Etain for 
a time, is pronounced Yochay, and that of Midir, 
Mid'-eer (short, as in mid-day). 



Note 

at once an elder and dreadful god, a myste- 
rious and potent spirit, avoided even of the 
proud immortal folk themselves : and an ab- 
straction, " the shadow of pale hopes, forgot- 
ten dreams, and madness of men's minds." 
He is, too, to my imagining, madness incorpo- 
rate as a living force. In several of my writ- 
ings this dark presence intervenes as a shadow 
. . . sometimes without being named, or as 
an elemental force, as in the evil music of 
Gloom Achanna in the tale called " The Dan- 
Nan-Ron," sometimes as a spirit of evil, as in 
" Dalua," the opening tale in The Dominion of 
Dreams. 

The Black Hawk (or Eagle) alluded to in 
first " direction " preceding text is the lolair 
Dhu, which on the first day of the world 
launched itself into the darkness and has 
never yet caught up with the dawn, though its 
rising or sinking shadow may be seen over 
the edge of dark at the night-dusk or morn- 
ing twilight. It should be added that with 
the ancient Gaels (and with the few to-day 
who have not forgotten or do not disdain the 
old wisdom) the Hidden People (the Sidhe or 
Shee; or Slice' an or Sheechun of the Isles) 
were great and potent, not small and insignifi- 
cant beings. " Mab " long ago was the ter- 
rible "dark" queen, Maive {Medh, Medbli, 

319 



Note 

Mahh) : and the still more ancient Puck was 
not a frolicsome spirit, but a shadowy and 
dreadful Power. 

Students of Celtic mythology will be familiar 
with the legend of the love of Etain or Edane 
(herself half divine of race), wife of Eochaidh, 
the High King, for a mysterious stranger who 
came to the King's Diin, and played chess with 
the King, and won Etain away with him, he 
being Midir, a King in the Otherworld. Some 
may look upon Midir as another Orpheus, and 
upon Etain as a Eurydice with the significance 
of Proserpine : others may see also in Etain, 
what I see, and would convey in The Immortal 
Hour, a symbol of the wayward but home- 
wandering soul ; and in Midir, a symbol of the 
Spirit ; and in Eochaidh, a symbol of the mun- 
dane life, of mortal love. Others will see only 
the sweet vanity of the phosphorescent play of 
the mythopoeic Gaelic mind, or indeed not 
even this, but only the natural dreaming of the 
Gaelic imagination, ever in love with fantasy 
and with beauty in fantasy. But, lest the old 
and the new be confused, this should be added : 
. . . That Eochaidh finds Etain in the way 
he does, and that Dalua comes and goes be- 
tween Etain and Eochaidh as he comes and 
goes, and the meaning that lies in the obscure 
love of Dalua, and the bewildered love of 

320 



Note 

Etain, and the mortal love of Eochaidh, and 
the immortal love of Midir . . . this is new, 
perhaps : though what seems new may be the 
old become transparent only, the old in turn 
being often the new seen in reverse ... as 
one may for the first time see a star in a deep 
water that has already immemorially mirrored 
it. Nor has Dalua part or mention in the an- 
tique legend. Like other ancient things, this 
divinity hath come secretly upon us in a for- 
getful time, new and strange and terrible, 
though his unremembered shadow crossed our 
way when first we set out on our long travel, 
in the youth of the world. 

F. M. 



321 



ACT I 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 

EocHAiDH. High King of Ireland. 
Etain. a Lost Princess, afterwards 

Eochaidh's Queen. 
MiDiR. A Prince of the Hidden People. 
Dalua. The Amadan-Dhu. 
Two Peasants, Manus and Maive, and Har- 
pers, Warriors, etc. 



ACT I 

A forest glade at the rising of the moon. In 
the background is the hazel-shad onrd 
pool of a wide waste of zvater. As the 
moonshine falls upon an ancient oak to 
the right, the tall figure of Dalua is seen 
leaning against the bole. He is clad in 
black, with a small black cap from which 
hangs a black haivk's feather. 

Dalua 
[Slozvly coming out of the shadow 

By dim moon-glimmering coasts and dim grey 
wastes 

Of thistle-gathered shingle, and sea-murmur- 
ing woods 

Trod once but now untrod . . . under grey 
skies 

That had the grey wave sighing in their sails 

And in their drooping sails the grey sea-ebb. 

And with the grey wind wailing evermore 

Blowing the dun leaf from the blackening 
trees, 

I have travelled from one darkness to another. 

325 



The Immortal Hour 

Voices in the Wood 

Though you have travelled from one darkness 

to another 
Following the dun leaf from the blackening 

trees 
That the grey wind harries, and have trodden 

the woods 
Where the grey-hooded crows that once were 

men 
Gather in multitude from the long grey wastes 
Of thistled shingle by sea-murmurous coasts, 
Yet you have come no further than a rood, 
A little rood of ground in a circle woven. 

Dalua 

My lips have lost the salt of the driven foam, 
Howbeit I hear no more the long dull roar, 
Of the long grey beaches of the Hebrides. 

Voices 

Behind the little windless leaves of the wood 
The sea-wastes of the wind-worn Hebrides 
With thunderous crashes falling wave on 

wave. 
Are but the troubled sighs of a great silence. 

Dalua 

To the world's end I have come, to the 
world's end. 

326 



The Immortal Hour 

Voices 

You have come but a little way who think so 

far 
The long uncounted leagues to the world's 

end: 
And now you are mazed because you stand at 

the edge 
Where the last tangled slope leans over the 

abyss. 

Dalua 

You know not who I am, sombre and ancient 
voices. 

[Silence 

And if I tread the long, continuous way 
Within a narrow round, not thinking it 

long, 
And fare a single hour thinking it many 

days, 
I am not first or last, of the Immortal Clan, 
For whom the long ways of the world are 

brief 
And the short ways heavy with unimagined 

time. 

Voices in the Wood 
There is no first or last, or any end. 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

I have come hither, led by dreams and 

visions, 
And know not why I come, and to what 

end. 
And wherefore mid the noise of chariot 

wheels 
Where the swung world roars down the starry 

ways 
The Voice I know and dread was one with 

me, 
As the uplifted grain and wind are one. 



Voices 

Above you is the light of a wandering 

star . . . 
O Son of the Wandering Star, we know you 

now ! 

Dalua 

Like great black birds the demons haunt the 

woods . . . 
Hail, ye unknown who know me! . . . 

A Voice 

Hail, Son of Shadow ! 
328 



The Immortal Hour 



Voices 



Hail, Brother of the strong, immortal gods. 
And of the gods who have passed into a 

sleep 
In sandless hollows of forgotten hills, 
And of the homeless, sad, bewildered gods 
Who as grey wandering mists lickt up of the 

wind 
Pass slowly in the dull unfriendly light 
Of the cold, curious eyes of envious 

men. . . . 



Other Voices 

Ai! Ai! 

• • • • 

Who yet have that which gives their mortal 

clay 
A light and a power and a wonder that none 

has 
Of all the Clans of the Shee, save only those 

who are not sprung of Orchil and of Kail 
The mother and father of the earth-wrought 

folk, 
Greater than men but less than Orchil and 

Kail, 
As they in turn are less than sky-set Lu 
Or Oengus who is keeper of the four great 

keys . . . 

329 



The Immortal Hour 

Other Voices 

Than sky-set Lu who leads the hosts of the 
stars . . . 

Other Voices 

Than Dagda, Lord of Thunder and of Si- 
lence, 
And Ana, the ancient Mother of the gods. . . . 

Other Voices 
Than Manan of the innumerable waters. . . . 

Other Voices 
Than moon-crown'd Brigid of the undying 
flame. . . , 

Other Voices 

Than Midir of the Dew and the Evening 
Star. ... 

Other Voices 

Than Oengus, keeper of the East : of Birth : 

of Song: 
The keeper of the South : of Passion : and of 

War : 
The keeper of the West : of Sorrow : of 

Dreams : 
The keeper of the North: of Death: of Life. 

330 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

Yet one more ancient even than the god of 

the sun, 
Than flame-haired Oengus, lord of Love and 

Death, 
Holds the last dreadful key , . , Oblivion. 



Voices 

Dim ages that are dust are but the loosened 

laughters 
Spilt in the youth of Oengus the Ever- Young ! 



Dalua 

I am old, more old, more ancient than the 

gods, 
For I am son of Shadow, eldest god 
Who dreamed the passionate and terrible 

dreams 
We have called Fire and Light, Water and 

Wind, 
Air, Darkness, Death, Change, and Decay, 

and Birth 
And all the infinite bitter range that is. 



The Immortal Hour 



A Voice 



Brother and kin to all the twilit gods, 
Living, forgot, long dead: sad Shadow of 

pale hopes, 
Forgotten dreams, and madness of men's 

minds : 
Outcast among the gods, and called the Fool, 
Yet dreaded even by those immortal eyes 
Because thy fateful touch can wreck the mind 
Or lay a frost of silence on the heart: 
Dalua, hail ! . . . 



Dalua 

I am but what I am. 
I am no thirsty evil lapping life. 

[Loud laughters from the wood 

Laugh not, ye outcasts of the invisible world, 
For Lu and Oengus laugh not, nor the gods 
Safe set above the perishable stars. 

[Silence 
They laugh not, nor any in the high celestial 

house. 
Their proud immortal eyes grow dim and 

clouded 
When as a morning shadow I am gathered 
Into their holy light, for well they know 
The dreadful finger of the Nameless One, 

332 



The Immortal Hour 

That moves as a shadow falls. For I Dalua 
Am yet the blown leaf of the unknown 
pov/ers. 

Voices 

{Tumultuously 
We too are the blown leaves of the unseen 
powers. 

Dalua 

Demons and Dreams and Shadows, and all ye 
Invisible folk who haunt the darkling ways, 
I am grown weary, who have stooped and lain 
Over the green edge o' the shaken world 
And seen beneath the whirling maze of stars 
Infinite gulfs of silence, and the obscure 
Abysmal wastes where Time hath never trod. 



Voices 
We too are weary: we are Weariness. 



Dalua 

[Listening intently 

Voices of shadowy things, be still ! I hear 
The feet of one who wanders through the 
wood. 



The Immortal Hour 

Voices 

We who are the children of the broken way, 
The wandered wind, the idle wave, blown 

leaves. 
The wild distempered hour and swirling dust. 
Hail thee, Dalua, Herdsman of fallen stars. 
Shepherd of Shadows ! Lord of the Hidden 

Way ! 

Dalua 

[Going back to the oak 
Voices be still ! The woods are suddenly 

troubled. 
I hear the footfall of predestined things. 

[Enter Etain, in a coiled robe of pale 
green, with mistletoe intertwined 
in her long, dark, unloosened hair. 
She comes slozvly forzvard, and 
stands silent, looking at the moon- 
shine on the water. 

Etain 

[Singing to a slow monotonous air 
Fair is the moonlight 
And fair the wood, 
But not so fair 
As the place I come from. 

334 



The Immortal Hour 

Why did I leave it, 
The beautiful country, 
Where Death is only 
A drifting Shadow? 

face of Love, 

Of Dream and Longing, 
There is sorrow upon me 
That I am here. 

1 will go back 

To the Country of the Young, 

And see again 

The lances of the Shee 

As they keep hosting 
With laughing cries 
In pale places 
Under the moon. 

[Etain turns, and walks slowly for- 
ward. She starts as she hears a 
peculiar cry from the wood 



Etain 

None made that cry who has not known the 
Shee. 

335 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

[Coming forward and bowing low with 
fantastic grace 
Hail, daughter of kings, and star among the 

dreams 
Which are the lives and souls of whom have 

won 
The Country of the Young ! 

Etain 

I know you not : 
But though I have not seen your face before, 
I think you are of those who have not kept 
The bitter honey of mortality. 
But are among the deathless folk who dwell 
In hollow hills, or isles far off, or where 
Flatheanas Hes, or cold Ifurin is. 

Dalua 
I have come far, led here by dreams and 
visions. 

Etain 

By dreams and visions led I too have come 
But know not whence or by what devious way, 
Nor to what end I am come through these dim 

woods 
To this grey lonely loch. 

336 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

[Touching her lightly with the shadow 
of his hand 

Have you forgot 
The delicate smiling land beneath the arcs 
Which day and night and momently are wove 
Between its peaceful shores and the vast gulf 
Of dreadful silence and the unpathwayed 
dark? 

Etain 

If somewhat I remember, more is lost. 
Have I come here to meet with you, fair sir, 
Whose name I do not know, whose face is 
strange ? 

Dalua 

Can you remember. ... 

Etain 

I have forgotten all . . . 
I can remember nothing : no, not this 
The little song I sang ev'n now, or what sweet 

thought. 
What ache of longing lay behind the song. 
All is forgot. And this has come to me 
The wind-way of the leaf. But now my 

thoughts 

337 



The Immortal Hour 

Ran leaping through the green ways of my 

mind 
Like fawns at play : but now I know no more 
That this : that I am Etain White o' the Wave, 
Etain come hither from the lovely land 
Where the immortal Shee fill up their lives 
As flowers with honey brewed of summer 

airs, 
Flame of the sun, dawn-rains, and evening 

dews. 

Dalua 

[Sombrely 

How knew you not that once, where the un- 

setting moon 
The grassy elf mounds fills with drowsy 

gold, 
I kissed your shadowy lips beneath the thorn 
Heavy with old foam of changeless blossom? 



Etain 

[Leanmg forward and looking into his 
face 
You loved me once ? I have no memory 
Of this: if once you loved me, have you lost 
The subtle breath of love, the sudden fire? 
For you are cold as are your shadowy eyes. 

338 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

[ Unsfirring 

When, at the last, amid the o'erwearied 

Shee — 
Weary of long delight and deathless joys — 
One you shall love may fade before your eyes, 
Before your eyes may fade, and be as mist 
Caught in the sunny hollow of Lu's hand, 
Lord of the Day. . . . 



Etain 

[Eagerly, with Her left hand pressed 
against her heart 
What then ? 



Dalua 

It may be then, white dove, 
Your eyes may dwell on one on whom falls 

not 
The first chill breath blown from the Un- 
known Land, 
Of which the tender poets of the Shee 
Sing in the dewy eves when the wild deer 
Are milked, and 'neath the evening-star moths 

rise 
Grey-gold against a wave-uplifted moon. 

339 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 
Well? 

Dalua 

Then I, Dalua. in that fateful hour, 
Shall know the star-song of supreme desire, 
And placing hand upon the perfect fruit 
Shall taste and die. . . . 

[A pause 
. . . or, if I do not die, 
Shall know the sweet fruit mine, then see it 

slip 
Down through dim branches into the abyss 
Where all sweet fruit that is, the souls of men, 
The joyous Shee, old gods, all beautiful words, 
Song, music, dreams, desires, shall in the end 
Sway like blown moths against the rosewhite 

flame 
That is the fiery plume upon the brows 
Of Him called Silence. 

Etain 

I do not understand : 
Your love shall fall about me like sweet rain 
In drouth of death : so much I hear and know : 
But how can death o'ertake the immortal folk 
With whom I dwell? And if you love me 
thus, 

340 



The Immortal Hour 

Why is there neither word nor smile nor 

glance 
Of love, nor any little sign that love 
Shakes like a windy reed within your heart? 

Dalua 

[Sombrely 
I am Dalua. 

Etain 

I have heard lips whisper 
Of one Dalua, but with sucked-in breath, 
As though the lips were fearful of the word. 
No more than this I know, no more recall. 

Dalua 

I cannot give you word of love, or kiss, 
Sweet love, for in my fatal breath there lies 
The subtle air of madness : from my hand 
Death shoots an arrowy tongue, if I but touch 
The unsuspecting clay with bitter heed. 
With hate darkling as the swift winter hail. 
Or sudden malice such as lifts and falls 
A dreadful shadow of ill within my mind. 
Nor could I if I would. We are sheep led 
By an unknown Shepherd, we who are the 

Shee, 
For all we dream we are as gods, and far 
Upgathered from the little woes of men. 

341 



The Immortal Hour 



Etain 



Then why this meeting, here in this old wood, 
By moonhght, by this melancholy water? 



Dalua 

I knew not : now I know. A king of men 
Has wooed the Immortal Hour. He seeks to 

know 
The joy that is more great than joy 
The beauty of the old green earth can give. 
He has known dreams, and because bitter 

dreams 
Have sweeter been than honey he has sought 
The open road that lies mid shadowy things. 
He hath sought and found and called upon the 

Shee 
To lead his love to one more beautiful 
Than any mortal maid, so fair that he 
Shall know a joy beyond all mortal joy. 
And stand silent and rapt beside the gate, 
The rainbow gate of her whom none may 

find. 
The Beauty of all Beauty. 



Etain 

Can this be ? 
342 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

Nay, but he doth not know the end. There is 
But one way to that Gate : it is not Love 
Aflame with all desire, but Love at peace. 

Etain 
Who is this poet, this king? 

Dalua 

Led here by dreams, 
By dreams and visions led as you and I, 
His feet are nearing us. When you are won 
By love and adoration, star of dreams, 
And take sweet mortal clay, and have forgot 
The love-sweet whisper of the King of The 

Shee, 
And, even as now, hear Midir's name unmov'd 
When you are won thus, Etain, and none 

know, 
Not any of your kindred, whence unknown 
As all unknowing you have come, for you 
The wayward thistledown of fate shall blow 
On the same idle wind — the doom of him 
Who blindfold seeks you. 

Etain 
But he may not love ? 
343 



The Immortal Hour 



Dalua 



Yes, he shall love. Upon him I shall lay 

My touch, the touch of him men dread and 

call 
The Amadan-Dhu, the Dark One, Fairy Fool. 
He shall have madness even as he v^ills, 
And think it wisdom. I shall be his thought — 
A dream within a dream, the flame wherein 
The white moths of his thought shall rise and 

die. 

[A blast of a horn is heard 



Dalua 

[Abruptly 
Farewell. 

[Touches her lightly with the shadow 
of his hand, and ivhispers in her 
ear 
Now go. The huntsman's lodge is near. 
I have told all that need be told, and given 
Bewilderment and dreams, but dreams that 

are 
The fruit of that sweet clay of which I spoke. 

[Etain slowly goes, putting her hand 
to her head hczvildcredly. Before 
she passes into and out of sight in 
the wood, she sings plaintively 

344 



The Immortal Hour 

I would go back 

To the Country of the Young, 

And see again 

The lances of the Shee, 

As they keep their hosting 
With laughing cries 
In pale places 
Under the moon. 



Scene II. — The same. 

[Dalua stands, waiting the coming of 
EocHAiDH the king. The king is 
clad in a leathern hunting dress, 
with a cleft helmet surmounted by 
a dragon in pale findruiney 



EoCHAIDH 

[Stopping abruptly 

Sir, I am glad. I had not thought' to see 
One here. 

Dalua 

[ Taking off his cap, and sweeping it low 
The king is welcome here. 

345 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

The king? 
How know you that the king is here ? Far off 
The war-horns bray about my threatened 

Dun. 
None knows that I am here. 

Dalua 

And why, O king? 

EocHAroH 

For I am weary of wars and idle strife, 
Who have no joy in all these little things 
Men break their lives upon. But in my dreams. 
In dreams I have seen that which climbs the 

stars 
And sings upon me through my lonely hours 
And will not let me be. 

Dalua 

What song is that ? 

EoCHAIDH 

The song . . . but who is he who knows the 

king 
Here in this dim, remote, forgotten wood, 
Where led by dreams and visions I have come ? 

346 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 
Those led by dreams shall be misled, O king! 

EocHAroH 

You are no druid : no knight in arms : none 
Whom I have seen. 

Dalua 

I have known camps of men, 
The minds and souls of men, and I have heard 
Eochaidh the king sighing out his soul in 
sighs. 

Eochaidh 

Tell me your name. 

Dalua 
I am called Dalua. 

EocHAroH 

[Ponderingly 

I have not heard that name, and yet in dreams 
I have known one who waved a shadowy 

plume 
And smiling said, " I am Dalua." Speak : 
Are you this same Dalua? 

347 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

I have come 
To this lone wood and to this lonely mere 
To drink from out the Fountain of all dreams, 
The Shadowy Fount of Beauty. 

EOCHAIDH 

[Eagerly 

At last! 
The Fount of Beauty, Fountain of all dreams ! 
Now am I come upon my long desire ! 
The days have trampled me like armed men 
Thrusting their spears as ever on they go, 
And I am weary of all things save the stars, 
The wind, shadows and moonrise, and strange 

dreams. 
If you can show me this immortal Fount 
Whatso you will is yours. 

Dalua 

[Touching him lightly 
You are the king, 
And know, now, whence you came, and to 
what end? 

EoCHAIDH 

[ Confusedly 
The king? The king? What king? 

348 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

You are the king? 

EOCHAIDH 

A king of shadows, I ! I am no king. 

Dalua 
And whither now, and whence ? 

EoCHAIDH 

I am not come 
From any place I know of, and I go 
Where dreams and visions lead me. 

[Suddcjily a fountain rises in the mere, 
the spray rising high in the moon- 
shine 

Dalua 

Look, O king ! 

EoCHAIDH 

[Staring eagerly, ivith hand above his 
eyes 
I cannot see what you would have me see. 

349 



The Immortal Hour 

Dalua 

[Plucking a branch from a mountain- 
ash, and waving it before the king's 
face 
Look! 

EOCHAIDH 

I see a Fountain and within its shadow 
A great fish swims, and on the moveless wave 
The scarlet berries float : dim mid the depths 
The face of One I see, most calm and great, 
August, with mournful eyes, 

Dalua 

Ask what you will. 

EoCHAIDH 

The word of wisdom, O thou hidden God : 
Show me my star of dreams, show me the 
way! 

A Voice [Solemnly 

[Return, Eochaidh Airemh, wander- 
ing king 

Eochaidh 
That shall not be. No backward way is mine. 
If I indeed be king, then kingly I 
Shall cleave my way through shadows, as 
through men. 

350 



The Immortal Hour 

A Voice 
Return! 

EOCHAIDH 

Nay, by the Sun and Moon, I swear 
I will not turn my feet. 

A Voice 

Return! Return! 

EoCHAIDH 

[Hesitating, turns to look at Dalua, 
who has szviftly and silently with- 
drawn into the wood 

[Silence 

There is no backward way for such as I ! 
Howbeit — for I am shaken with old dreams. 
And as an idle wave tossed to and fro — 
I will go hence : I will go back to where 
The quiet moonlight spills from the black 

brow 
Of the great hill that towers above the lands 
Wherein men hail me king. 

[Dalua's laughter comes from the 
wood 

Dalua 

Follow, O follow, king of dreams and sha- 
dows! 

351 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 
I follow. ... 

[Exit 

Scene III. — The rude interior of the cabin of 
the huntsman, Manus. He is sitting, clad 
in deerskin, with strapped sandals, before 
a fire of pine-logs. Long, unkempt, black 
hair falls about his face. His wife, Maive, 
a worn woman with a scared look, stands 
at the back, plucking feathers from a dead 
cockerel. At the other side of the hearth, 
Etain sits. 

Manus 

I've seen that man before who came to-night. 

[He has addressed no one, and no one 
answers 

I say I have seen that man before. 

Maive 

Hush Manus 
Beware of what you say. How can we tell 
Who comes, who goes ? And, too, good man, 

you've had 
Three golden pieces. 

Manus 

Aye, they are put by. 
That comforts me: for gold is ever gold. 

352 



The Immortal Hour 

Maive 

One was for her who stays with us to-night 
And shares our scanty fare. 

[Making a curtsey 

Right welcome, too : 
The other was for any who might come, 
Asking for bite or sup, for fireside warmth. 
The third. . . . 

Manus 

Yes, woman, yes, I know : for silence. Hush ! 

{A moan of wind is heard 
There comes the rain. 



Etain 

[Rising and going to the left doorway, 
pulls hack the hide. Shuddering, 
she thrusts it crosswise again, and 
returns 

It was so beautiful, 
So still, with not a breath of wind, and now 
The hill-wind moans, the night is filled with 

tears 
Of bitter rain. Good people, have you seen 
Such quiet eves fall into stormy nights 
Before? 

353 



The Immortal Hour 

Manus 

Who knows the wild way of the wind : 
The wild way of the rain ? They come, and go : 
We stay. We wait. We listen. Not for us 
To ask, to wonder. 

Maive 
They're more great than we. 
They are so old, the wind and rain, so old, 
They know all things, Grey Feathers and Blind 
Eyes! 

Etain 

Who?. . . Who?. . . 

Manus 

. . . the woman speaks of Wind and Rain : 
Blind Eyes, the dreadful one whom none has 

seen. 
Whose voice we hear : Grey Feathers, his pale 

love, 
Who flies before or follows, grey in rains. 
Fierce blue in hail, death-white in whirling 

snows. 

Etain 

Does any ever come to you by night? 

. . . lost woodlander, stray wayfarer from 

the hills, 
Merchant or warrior from the far-off plains ? 

354 



The Immortal Hour 

Manus 
None. 

Maive 

We are so far away : so far, I think 
Sometimes, we must be close upon the edge 
Of the green earth, there where the old tales 

say 
The bramble-bushes and the heather make 
A hollow tangle over the abyss. 

Etain 

But sometimes . . . sometimes. . . . Tell me : 

have you heard. 
By dusk or moonset have you never heard 
Sweet voices, delicate music? . . . never seen 
The passage of the lordly beautiful ones 
Men call the Shee? 

Manus 

[Rising abruptly 

We do not speak of them. 



Hark! 



Maive 

[A stronger blast strikes the house. 
Manus throws more logs on the 
fire 

355 



The Immortal Hour 

Maive 
Hark! a second time I've heard a cry! 

[All listen. Suddenly a loud knock is 
heard. Maive covers her head, 
and cowers beside the fire, behind 
Etain, zuho rises. Manus seises 
a spear, and stands waiting. The 
heavy knock is repeated 

A Voice 
Open, good folk! 

Manus 

There is no door to ope : 
Thrust back the skins from off the post. 

[The ox-fell is thrust aside, and 
Eochaidh enters. He stops at 
the threshold, staring at Etain 

Eochaidh 

Good folk, 

I give you greeting. [A pause 

Lady, I bow my knee. 
[Etain bows slowly in return. 
Eochaidh comes a few steps for- 
ward, stops, and looks fixedly at 
Etain. He says slowly 

You have great beauty. 

[A pause 

356 



The Immortal Hour 

I have never seen 
Beauty so great, so wonderful. In dreams, 
In dreams alone such beauty have I seen, 
A star above my dusk, 

Etain 

Sir, I pray you 
Draw near the fire. This bitter wind and rain 
Must sure have chilled you. 

[She points to her vacant three-legged 

stool. As EOCHAIDH slowlj pGSSCS 

her, Manus slides his hand over 
his shoulder and back 

Manus 

[With a strange look at Maive 
He is not wet. The driving rains have left 
No single drop ! 

Maive 

[Piteously 

Good sir ! brave lord ! good sir ! 
Have pity on us : sir, have pity ! 
We are poor, and all alone, and have no wile 
To save ourselves from great ones, or from 

those 
Who dwell in secret places on the hills 
Or wander where they will in shadow clothed. 

357 



The Immortal Hour 

Manus 

Hush, woman! Name no names: and speak 

no word 
Of them who come unbidden and unknown. 
Good, sir, you are most welcome. I am 

Manus, 
And this poor woman is Maive, my childless 

wife, 
And this is a great lady of the land 
Who shelters here to-night. Her name is 

Etain. 

EOCHAIDH 

Tell me, good Manus : who else is here, or 

whom 
You may expect? 

Manus 

No one, fair lord. The wild 
Gray stormy seas are doors that shut the world 
From us poor island-folk. . . . 

Maive 

We are alone. 
We're all alone, fair sir : there is none here 
But whom you see. Gray Feathers and Blind 

Eyes 
Are all we know without. 

358 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

Who are these others ? 

Manus 
The woman speaks, sir, of the Wind and Rain. 
These unknown gods are as all gods that are, 
And do not love to have their sacred names 
Used lightly : so we speak of him who lifts 
A ceaseless wing across all lands and seas, 
Moaning or glad, and flieth all unseeing 
From darkness into darkness, as Blind Eyes: 
And her, his lovely bride, for he is deaf and so 
Veers this way and that for ever, seeing not 
His love who breaks in tears beneath his wings 
Or falls in snows before his frosty breath — 
Her we name thus. Grey Feathers. 

Maive 

As for us. 
We are poor lonely folk, and mean no wrong. 
Sir, sir, if you are of the nameless ones, 
The noble nameless ones, do us no ill ! 

EoCHAIDH 

Good folk, I mean no ill. Nor am I made 
Of other clay than yours. I am a man. 
Let me have shelter here to-night : to-morrow 
I will go hence. 

359 



The Immortal Hour 

Manus 
You are most welcome, sir. 

EOCHAIDH 

And you, fair Etain, is it with your will 
That I be sheltered from the wind and rain? 



Etain 

How could I grudge you that ungrudged to 
me? 

[Manus and Maive withdraw into the 

background. . The light wanes, as 

the logs give less flame. Eochaidh 

speaks in a low, strained voice 

Etain, fair beautiful love, at last I know 

Why dreams have led me hither. All these 

years 
These eyes like stars have led me : all these 

years 
This love that dwells like moonlight in your 

face 
Has been the wind that moved my idle 

wave. 
Forgive presumptuous words. I mean no ill. 
I am a king, and kingly. Ard-Righ, I am, 
Ard-Righ of Eire. 

360 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 
And your name, fair lord ? 

EOCHAIDH 

Eochaidh Airemh. 

Etain 

And I am Etain called, 
Daughter of lordly ones, of princely line. 
But more I cannot say, for on my mind 
A strange forgetful cloud bewilders me. 
And I have memory only of those things 
Of which I cannot speak, being under bond 
To keep the silence of my lordly folk. 
How I came here, or to what end, or why 
I am left here, I know not. 

Eochaidh 

Truly, I 
[Taking her hand in his 

Now know full well. 

Etain, dear love, my dreams 
Come true. I have seen this dim pale face in 

dreams 
For days and months and years ; till at the 

last 
Too great a sdcU of beauty held my hours. 

361 



The Immortal Hour 

My kingdom was no more to me than sand, 
Or a green palace built of August leaves 
Already yellowing, waiting for the wind 
To scatter them to north and south and 

east. 
I have forgotten all that men hold dear, 
And given my kinghood to the wheeling 

crows. 
The trampling desert hinds, the snarling 

fox. 
I have no thought, no dream, no hope, but 

this — 

[Kissing her upon the brow 

To call you love, to take you hence, my 

Queen — 
Queen of my Heart, my Queen, my Dream, 

my Queen ! 

Etain 

[Looking into his face, with thrown- 
back head 
I too, I too, am lifted with the breath 
Of a tumultous wind. My lord and king, 
I too am lit with fire, which fills my heart, 
And lifts it like a flame to burn with thine, 
To pass and be at one and flame in thine. 
My, lord, my king! My lord, my lord, my 
king! 

362 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

The years, the bitter years of all the world 
Are now no more. We have gained that 

which stands 
Above the trampling feet of hurrying years. 

[A brief burst of mocking laughter is 
heard 



EoCHAIDH 

[Turning angrily, and looking into the 
shadowy background where are 



Manus and Maive 
Who laughed ? What means that laughter ? 

Manus 

[Sullenly 
No one laughed. 

EoCHAIDH 

Who laughed? Who laughed? 

Maive 
Grey Feathers and Blind Eyes. 
363 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 

[ Wearily 

None laughed. It was the hooting of an owl. 

Dear lord, sit here. I am weary. 

[Manus and Maive withdraw, and lie 
doivn. EocHAiDH and Etain sit 
before the smouldering fire. The 
room darkens. Suddenly Eoch- 
aidh leans forward, and whispers 



Eochaidh 

Etain ! 
Etain, dear love ! 

Etain -^ 

[Not looking at him, and slowly sway- 
ing as she sings 
How beautiful they are, 
The lordly ones 
Who dwell in the hills. 
In the hollow hills. 

They have faces like flowers 
And their breath is wind 
That blows over grass 
Filled with dewy clover. 

364 



The Immortal Hour 

Their limbs are more white 
Than shafts of moonshine: 
They are more fleet 
Than the March wind. 

They laugh and are glad 
And are terrible : 
When their lances shake 
Every green reed quivers. 

How beautiful they are 
How beautiful 
They lordly ones 
In the hollow hills. 

{Darkness, save for the red flame in 
the heart of the fire. 

END OF ACT I 



365 



ACT II 



ACT II 

Scene I. — A year later. In the hall of the 
Royal Dun at Tara. The walls covered 
with skins, stag's heads and boar's heads, 
weapons: at intervals great torches. At 
lower end, a company of warriors, for the 
most part in hratta of red and green, or 
red and green and blue, like tartan but 
in long, broad lines or curves, and not 
in squares, deerskin gaiters and sandals. 
Also harpers and others, and white-clad 
druids and bards. On a dais sits Eochaidh 
the High King. Beside him sits Etain, 
his queen. Behind her is a group of ivhite- 
robed girls. 

Harpers (strike a loud clanging music from 
their harps). 



Chorus of Bards 

Glory of years, O king, glory of years ! 
Hail, Eochaidh the High King of Eire, hail ! 
Etain the Beautiful, hail ! 

369 



The Immortal Hour 

Other Bards, Harpers, and Minstrels 

Hail! 

Druids 

Hail! 

Warriors 

Hail! 

EOCHAIDH 

Drink from the great shells and horns ! . . . 

for I am glad 
That on this night which rounds my year of 

joy, 

In amity and all glad fellowship 
We feast together. 

[Turning to Etain 

Etain, speak, my Queen. 

Etain 

[Rising 

Warriors and druids, bards, harpers, friends 
Of high and low degree, I who am queen 
Do also thank you. But I am weary now, 
And weary too with strange perplexing dreams 
Thrice dreamed : and so I bid you all farewell. 
[Bows low. Turning to the king adds 

To you, dear love, my lord and king, I too 
Will bid farewell to-night. 

370 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

[Lovingly 
Say not farewell : 
Say not farewell, dear love, for we shall meet 
When the last starry dews are gathered up 
And loud in the green woods the throstles call. 

Etain 
Dear, I am tired. . . . Farewell! 

EoCHAIDH 

No, no, my fawn — 
My fawn of love : this night, this night I pray 
Leave me not here alone : for under all 
This outer tide of joy I am sore wrought 
By dreams and premonitions. For three 

nights 
I have heard sudden laughters in the dark, 
Where nothing was ; and in the first false 

dawn 
Have seen phantasmal shapes, and on the 

grass 
A host of shadows marching, bent one way 
As when green leagues of reed become one 

reed 
Blown slantwise by the wind. 

371 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 

I, too, have heard 
Strange deHcate music, subtle murmurings, 
A Httle lovely noise of myriad leaves, 
As though the greenness on the wind o' the 

south 
Came traveling to bare woods on one still 
night : 

[A pause 

I, too, have heard sweet laughter at the 

dawn, 
Amid the twilight fern : but when I leaned 
To see the unknown friends, no more than 

this 
I saw — grey delicate shadows on the grass, 
Grey shadows on the fern, the flowers, the 

leaves, 
Swift flitting, like foam-shadows o'er a wave. 
Before the grey wave of the coming day. 

[A pause: then suddenly 

But I am weary. Eochaidh, love and king, 
Sweet sleep and sweeter dreams ! 

[Etain leans and kisses the king. He 
stoops, and takes her right hand, 
and lifts it to his lips. Warriors 
raise their szvords and spears, as 
Etain leaves, followed by her 
women. 

Z72 



The Immortal Hour 

Warriors and Others 

The Queen ! The Queen ! 

Harpers (strike a loud clanging music from 
their harps). 

Chorus of Bards 

Glory of years, O king, glory of years ! 
Hail, Eochaidh Ard-Righ of Eire, hail! hail! 
Etain the Beautiful, hail ! 

Other Bards, Harpers, and Minstrels 

Hail! 

Druids 

Hail! 
Warriors 

Hail! 
Eochaidh 

[Raising a white hazel-wand, till ah- 
solute silence falls 

Now go in peace. To one and all, good-night. 

[The warriors, hards, minstrels troop 
out, leaving only the harpers and 
a fezv druids, who do not follow, 
but stand uncertain as a stranger 
passes through their midst and 
confronts the king. He is young, 

373 



The Immortal Hour 

princely, fair to see; clad all in 
green, with a gold belt, a gold tor- 
que round his neck, gold armlets 
on his bare arms, and two gold 
torques round his bare ankles. On 
his long curling dark hair, falling 
over his shoulder, is a small green 
cap from which trails a peacock- 
feather. To his left side is slung 
a small clarsach, or harp. 

MiDIR 

Hail, Eochaidh, King of Eire. 

EOCHAIDH 

[Standing motionless and looking 
fixedly at the stranger 

Hail, fair sir! 

MiDIR 

[ With light grace 

Sorrow upon me that I am so late 

For this great feasting; but I come from far, 

And winds and rains delayed me. Yet full 

glad 
I am to stand before the king to-night 
And claim a boon ! 

374 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

No stranger claims in vain 
Here in my Dun, a boon if that boon be 
Such I may grant without a loss of fame, 
Honour, or common weal. But first, fair sir, 
I ask the name and rank of him who craves, 
To all unknown? 

MiDIR 

I am a king's first son : 
My kingdom lies beyond your lordly realms, 
O king, and yet upon our mist-white shores 
The Three Great Waves of Eire rise in foam. 
But I am under geasa, sacred bonds. 
To tell to no one, even to the king. 
My name and lineage. Kmg, I wish you well : 
Lordship and peace and all your heart's desire. 



EoCHAIDH 

Fair lord, my thanks I give. Lordship I have, 
And peace a little while, though one brief year 
Has seen its birth and life : my heart's desire — 
Ah, unknown lord, give me my heart's desire — 
And I will give you lordship of these lands, 
Kingship of Eire, riches, greatness, power, 
All, all, for but the little infinite thing 
That is my heart's desire! 

375 



The Immortal Hour 

MiDIR 

And that, O king? 

EOCHAIDH 

It is to know there is no twiHght hour 
Upon my day of joy : no starless night 
Wherein my swimming love may reach in 

vain 
For any shore, wherein great love shall drown 
And be a lifeless weed, which the pale shapes 
Of ghastly things shall look at and pass by 
With idle fin. 

MiDIR 

Have not the poets sung 
Great love survives the night, and climbs the 

stars, 
And lives th' immortal hour along the brows 
Of that infinitude called Youth, whom men 
Name Oengus, Sunrise? 

EoCHAIDH 

Sir, I too have been 
A poet. 

MiDIR 

Within the Country of the Young, 
Whence I have come, our life is full of joy, 
For there the poet's dreams alone are true. 

376 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

Dreams . . . dreams. . . . 

{A pause: then abruptly 

But tell me now, fair lord, the boon 
You crave. 

MiDIR 

I have heard rumour say that there is none 
Can win the crown at chess from this crowned 

king 
Called Eochaidh. 

EoCHAIDH 

Well? 

MiDIR 

And I would win that crown : 
For none in all the lands that I have been 
Has led me to the maze wherein the pawns 
Are lost or go awry. 

Eochaidh 

Sir, it is late, 
But if I play with you, and I should win. 
What is the guerdon ? 

MiDIR 

That — your heart's desire. 

[A pause 

Z77 



The Immortal Hour 

MiDIR 

And what, O king, my guerdon if I win? 

EOCHAIDH 

What you shall ask. 

MiDIR 

Then be it so, O, king. 

EoCHAIDH 

Yet why not on the morrow, my fair lord ? 
To-night the hour is late; the queen is 

gone: 
The chessboard lies upon a fawnskin couch 
Beside the queen. She is weary, asleep. 
To-morrow then . . . 

MiDIR 

[Drawing from his green vest a small 
chess-hoard of ivory, and then a 
handful of gold pawns 

Not so, Ard-Righ, for see 
I have a chess-board here, fit for a king — 
For it is made of yellow ivory 
That in dim days of old was white as cream 

378 



The Immortal Hour 

When Dana, mother of the ancient gods, 
Withdrew it from her thigh, with golden 

shapes 
Of unborn gods and kings to be her pawns. 

EOCHAIDH 

[Leaning forward curiously 
Lay it upon the dais. In all my years 
I have seen none so fair, so wonderful. 

[Both lie upon the dais, and move the 

pawns upon the ivory board 
Harpers {play a delicate music). 



A Young Minstrel 

[Sings slowly 

I have seen all things pass and all men go 
Under the shadow of the drifting leaf: 
Green leaf, red leaf, brown leaf, 
Grey leaf blown to and fro: 
Blown to and fro. 

I have seen happy dreams rise up and pass 
Silent and swift as shadozvs on the grass: 

Grey shadows of old dreams. 

Grey beauty of old dreams. 
Grey shadows in the grass. 

■ 379 



The Immortal Hour 
Scene II. — The same. 

EOCHAIDH 

[Rising abruptly, followed by Midir 
more slowly 

So, you have won ! For the first time the king 
Has known one subtler than himself. Fair sir, 
Your boon ? 

Midir 

O king, it is a little thing. 
All that I ask is this, that I may touch 
With my own lips the white hand of the 

queen : 
And that sweet Etain whom you love so well 
Should listen to the distant shell-sweet song, 
A little echoing song that I have made 
Down by the foam on sea-drown'd shores to 

please 
Her lovelier beauty. 

EoCHAIDH 

Sir, I would that boon 
Were other than it is : for the queen sleeps 
Grown sad with weariness and many dreams : 
But as you have my kingly word, so be it. 

[Calls to the young minstrel 
Go boy, to where the women sleep, and call 
Etain, the Queen. 

380 



The Immortal Hour 

[The minstrel goes, to left 
Harpers {play a low delicate music). 
[Enter Etain, in a robe of pale green, 
zvith mistletoe intertwined in her 
long loose hair 

EOCHAIDH 

Welcome, fair lovely queen. 
But, Etain, whom I love as the dark wave 
Loves the white star within its travelling 

breast, 
Why do you come thus clad in green, with hair 
Entangled with the mystic mistletoe, as when 
I saw you first, in that dim, lonely wood 
Down by forgotten shores, where the last 

clouds 
Slip through grey branches into the grey 

wave? 

Etain 

I could not sleep. My dreams came close to 

me 
And whispered in my ears. And someone 

played 
A vague perplexing air without my room. 
I was as dim and silent as the grass. 
Till a faint wind moved over me, and dews 
Gathered, and in the myriad little bells 
I saw a mvriad stars. 

ml 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

This nameless lord 
Has won a boon from me. It is to touch 
The whiteness of this hand with his hot Hps, 
For he is fevered with a secret trouble, 
From rumour of that beauty which too well 
I know a burning flame. And he would sing 
A song of echoes caught from out the foam 
Of sea-drown'd shores, a song that he has 

made, 
Dreaming a foolish idle dream, an idle dream. 

Etain 
[Looking long and lingeringly at 
MiDiR, slowly gives him her hand. 
When he has raised it to his lips, 
bowing, and let it go, she starts, 
puts it to her brow bewilderingly, 
and again looks fixedly at Midir 

Fair nameless lord, I pray you sing that song. 

Midir 

[Slowly chanting and looking stead- 
fastly at Etain 

How beautiful they are, 
The lordly ones 
Who dwell in the hills, 
In the hollow hills. 

382 



The Immortal Hour 

They have faces like flowers, 
And their breath is wind 
That stirs amid grasses 
Filled with white clover. 

Their limbs are more white 
Than shafts of moonshine : 
They are more fleet 
Than the March wind. 

They laugh and are glad 
And are terrible ; 
When their lances shake 
Every green reed quivers. 

How beautiful they are, 
How beautiful, 
The lordly ones 
In the hollow hills. 

[Silence. Etain again puts her hand 
to her brow hewilderedly 

Etain 

\Dreamily 

I have heard. ... I have dreamed. ... I, 

too, have heard, 
Have sung . . . that song: O lordly ones that 

dwell 

383 



The Immortal Hour 

In secret places in the hollow hills, 

Who have put moonlit dreams into my mind 

And filled my noons with visions, from afar 

I hear sweet dewfall voices, and the clink, 

The delicate silvery spring and clink 

Of faery lances underneath the moon. 

MiDIR 

I am a song 

In the Land of the Young, 

A sweet song: 

I am Love. 

I am a bird 
With white wings 
And a breast of flame, 
Singing, singing. 

The wind sways me 
On the quicken-bough: 
Hark! Hark! 
I hear laughter. 

Among the nuts 
On the hazel-tree 
I sing to the Salmon 
In the faery pool. 

384 



The Immortal Hour 

What is the dream 
The Salmon dreams, 
In the Pool of Connla 
Under the hazels? 

It is : There is no death 
Midir, with thee, 
In the honeysweet land 
Of Heart's Desire. 

It is a name wonderful, 
Midir, Love: 
It was born on the lips 
Of Oengus Og. 

Go, look for it : 
Lost name, beautiful: 
Strayed from the honeysweet 
Land of Youth. 

I am Midir, Love : 
But where is my secret 
Name in the land of 
Heart's desire? 

I am a bird 
With white wings 
And a breast of flame 
Singing, singing: 

385 



The Immortal Hour 

The Salmon of knowledge 
Hears, whispers : 
Look for it, Midir, 
In the heart of Etain : 

Etain, Etain, 
My Heart's Desire: 
Love, love, love. 
Sorrow, Sorrow! 

[Etain moves a little nearer, then 
stops. She puts both hands before 
her eyes, then withdraws them 

Etain 

I am a small green leaf in a great wood 

And you, the wind o' the South ! 

[Silence. Eochaidh, as though spell- 
bound, cannot advance, but 
stretches his arms towards Etain 

Eochaidh 

Etain, speak! 
What is this song the harper sings, what 

tongue 
It this he speaks? for in no Gaelic lands 
Is speech like this upon the lips of men. 
No word of all these honey-dripping words 
Is known to me. Beware, beware the words 

386 



The Immortal Hour 

Brewed in the moonshine under ancient oaks 
White with pale banners of the mistletoe 
Twined round them in their slow and stately 

death. 
It is the Feast of Saveen.^ 

Etain 
All is dark 
That has been hght. 

EOCHAIDH 

Come back, come back, O love that slips away ! 

Etain 
I cannot hear your voice so far away : 
So far away in that dim lonely dark 
Whence I have come. The Ught is gone. 
Farewell ! 

Eochaidh 

Come back, come back! It is a dream that 

calls, 
A wild and empty dream ! There is no light 
Within that black and terrible abyss . 
Whereon you stand. Etain, come back, come 

back, 
I give you life and love. 

>Samhain. The Celtic Festival of Summerend 
Hallowe'en. 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 

I cannot hear 
Your strange forgotten words, already dumb 
And empty sounds of dim defeated shows. 
I go from dark to Hght. 

MiDIR 

[Slowly whispering 
From dark to light. 

EOCHAIDH 

O, do not leave me, Star of my Desire ! 
My love, my hope, my dream : for now I know 
That you are part of me, and I the clay, 
The idle mortal clay that longed to gain, 
To keep, to hold, the starry Danann fire. 
The little spark that lives and does not die. 

Etain 

Old, dim, wind-wandered lichens on a stone 
Grown grey with ancient age : as these thy 

words. 
Forgotten symbols. So, Farewell: farewell! 

MiDIR 

Hasten, lost love, found love! Come, Etain, 
come! 

388 



The Immortal Hour 

Etain 

What are those sounds I hear? The wild 
deer call 

From the hill-hollows : and in the hollows sing, 

Mid waving birchen boughs, brown wander- 
ing streams : 

And through the rainbow'd spray flit azure 
birds 

Whose song is faint, is faint and far with love : 

O, home-sweet, hearth-sweet, cradle-sweet it 
is, 

The song I hear! 

MiDIR 

[Slowly moving backward 
Come, Etain, come! Afar 
The hillside maids are milking the wild deer; 
The elf-horns blow : green harpers on the 

shores 
Play a wild music out across the foam : 
Rose-flusht on one long wave's pale golden 

front. 
The moon of faery hangs, low on that wave. 
Come! When the vast full yellow flower is 

swung 
High o'er the ancient woods wherein old gods, 
Ancient as they, dream their eternal dreams 
That in the faery dawns as shadows rise 
And float into the lives and minds of men 

389 



The Immortal Hour 

And are the tragic pulses of the world, 
Then shall we two stoop by the Secret Pool 
And drink, and salve our sudden eyes with 

dew 
Gathered from foxglove and the moonlit fern. 
And see. . . . 

[Slowly chanting and looking stead- 
fastly at Etain 

How beautiful they are, 
The lordly ones 
Who dwell in the hills. 
In the hollow hills. 

They have faces like flowers, 
And their breath is wind 
That stirs amid grasses 
Filled with white clover. 

Their limbs are more white 
Than shafts of moonshine: 
They are more fleet 
Than the March wind. 

They laugh and are glad 
And are terrible : 
When their lances shake 
Every green reed quivers. 

390 



The Iiiniiortal Hour 

How beautiful they are, 
How beautiful, 
The lordly ones 
In the hollow hills. 

Etain 

Hush! Hush! 
Who laughed? 

MiDIR 

None laughed. All here are in a spell 
Of frozen silence. 

Etain 

Sure, sure, one laughed. 
Tell me, sweet Voice, which one among the 

Shee 
Is he who plays with shadows, and whose 

laugh 
Moves like a bat through silent haunted 

woods ? 

MiDIR 

He is not here : so fear him not : Dalua. 
It is the mortal name of him whose age 
Was idle laughing youth when Time was 

born. 
He is not here : but come with me, and where 
The falling stars spray down the dark Abyss, 
There, on a quicken, growing from mid-earth 

391 



The Immortal Hour 

And hanging like a spar across the depths, 
Dalua sits : and sometimes through the dusk 
Of immemorial congregated time, 
His laughter rings : and then he listens long, 
And when the echo swims up from the deeps 
He springs from crag to crag, for he is mad, 
And like a lost lamb crieth to his ewe. 
That ancient dreadful Mother of the Gods 
Whom men call Fear. 

When he has wandered thence 
Whether among the troubled lives of men or 

mid 
The sacred Danann ways, dim wolflike shapes 
Of furtive shadow follow him and leap 
The windway of his thought : or sometimes 

dwarfed, more dread, 
The stealthy moonwhite weasels of life and 

death 
Glide hither and thither. Even the high gods 
Who laugh and mock the lonely Fairy Fool 
When in his mortal guise he haunts the 

earth. 
Shrink from the Amadan Dhu when in their 

ways 
He moves, silent, unsmiling, wearing a dark 

star 
Above his foamwhite brows and midnight 

eyes. 

392 



The Immortal Hour 

Come, Etain, come : and have no fear, wild 

fawn, 
For I am Midir, Love, who loved you well 
Before this mortal veil withheld you here. 
Come! 

In the Land of Youth 
There are pleasant places: 
Green meadows, woods, 
Swift grey-blue waters. 

There is no age there, 

Nor any sorrow : 

As the stars in heaven 

Are the cattle in the valleys. 

Great rivers wander 
Through flowery plains, 
Streams of milk, of mead, 
Streams of strong ale. 

There is no hunger 
And no thirst 
In the Hollow Land, 
In the Land of Youth. 

How beautiful they are. 
The lordly ones 
Who dwell in the hills. 
In the hollow hills. 

393 



The liiniiorfal Hour 

They play with lances 
And are proud and terrible, 
Marching in the moonlight 
With fierce blue eyes. 

They love and are loved : 
There is no sin there : 
But slaying without death, 
And loving without shame. 

Every day a bird sings : 
It is the Desire of the Heart. 
What the bird sings, 
That is it that one has. 

Come, longing heart. 
Come, Etain, come ! 
Wild Fawn, I am calling 
Across the fern! 

[Slowly Etain, clasping his hand, 
moves away with Midir. They 
pass the spell-bound guards, and 
disappear'. A sudden darkness 
falls. Out of the shadoiv Dalua 
moves rapidly to the side of 
EocHAiDii, who starts, and peers 
into the face of the stranger 

394 



The Immortal Hour 

EOCHAIDH 

It is the same Dalua whom I met 
Long since, in that grey shadowy wood 
About the verge of the old broken earth 
Where, at the last, moss-clad it hangs in cloud. 

Dalua 
I am come. 

EoCHAIDH 

My dreams ! my dreams ! Give me my 
dream ! 

Dalua 

There is none left but this — 

[Touches the king, who stands stiff 
and erect, sways, and falls to the 
ground 

Dalua 
the dream of Death. 



THE END 



395 



THE HOUSE OF USNA 



A DRAMA 



NOTE 

Concobar MacNessa was King of Ulster 
and Ard-Righ or High-King of Ireland at the 
beginning of the Christian era. By some 
chroniclers his reign is said to be synchronous 
with the mortal years of Christ. 

Concobar had founded the knightly order 
of " The Red Branch " — the forerunner, 
though on a more epical scale, of the Round 
Table of the Arthurian Chivalry — and by his 
force of will and the power of his nation (the 
Ultonians, the people of Uladh, or Ulster) 
had become not only High-King of Ireland, 
but dreamed to make of its nations one nation, 
and that he and his sons and his son's sons 
should be its kings. In this he disregarded 
both the prophecies of the seers and the will 
of the gods ; for he had long schemed, and at 
last accomplished, a deed of evil and treachery 
upon three of the champions of the Alban or 
Scottish Gael, Naysha (Naois) and his two 
brothers, the sons of Usna, though the hero 
Usna had been allied to him and was bond- 
brother in war and courtesy. 

399 



Note 

The period of this drama is about four 
years after the elopement of Deirdre, as told 
in the old tale of Deirdre and the Sons of 
Usna: a retold version of which, from Gaelic 
and other sources, has already appeared in the 
Old World Series of reprints. More ex- 
plicitly, the actual period is the year following 
the triumph of Concobar's inveterate hate in 
his treacherous murder of Naysha (Naois) 
and his brothers Ailne (Ainnle) and Ardan, 
because of Naysha's love of Deirdre (the High 
King's ward and most beautiful woman of her 
time, and by Concobar destined to be his 
queen, despite the prophecies at her birth) and 
of Deirdre's for Naysha. Because of broken 
kingly honour, and the slaying of the sons of 
Usna and the death of Deirdre, Cormac Con- 
lingas, Concobar's son and heir, with other 
champions, seceded and joined the dread 
enemy Queen Meave, then advancing against 
the Ultonian Kingdom from the middle pro- 
vinces and the west.^ Conaill Carna and the 
youthful Setanta (already famous as the 
Hound (Cu), or Cuchulain, the Hound of 

' As the names have everywhere been anglicised. 
. . . e.g. Medb or Medbh into Meave, pronounced 
Mave; and Naois into Naysha . . . I need add only 
that Cuchulain is pronounced Coohoolin, and Eilidh 
Eily. 

400 



Note 

Chulain) were among those who in their 
loyalty remained with Concobar to fight with 
vain magnificent heroism against the will of 
the gods. 

It is at this juncture that Cormac Conlingas, 
suddenly deciding to return to Uladh to re- 
join Concobar and the Red Branch, is seduced 
by his great love for the wife of Cravetheen 
the Harper, and, while with her, is burned to 
death by Cravetheen. 

When the drama opens, Concobar (already, 
as was presaged, brought to the verge of mad- 
ness by his thwarted and inconsolable passion 
for Deirdre, and by his unkingly and treacher- 
ous revenge and its outcome) does not know 
that this new evil is come upon him and his 
house and nation, though in truth the end is 
at hand when the star of Ireland shall set in 
blood from the north to the south and from 
the east to the west. 



401 



DRAMATIS PERSONS 

CoNCOBAR Macnessa. King of Ulster and 

High-King of Ireland. 
DuACH. A Druid. 
CoEL. An Old Blind Harper. 
Cravetheen. a Harper of the Kingship of 

Cbnairey Mbr. 
Maine. A Boy. 

and 
Ultonian Warriors. 
Unseen : Mourners passing through the forest 

tvith the charred bodies of Cormac Con- 

lingas and Eilidh the Fair. 
Chorus of Harpers. 



402 



SCENE I 

Open glade in a forest of pines and oaks, 
with the silent fires of sunset on the 
holes. Confused cries are heard, but as 
though a long zvay off. A dishevelled sav- 
age figure, clad in deerskin and hide-hound 
leggings, slips forward furtively from tree 
to tree. His long dark locks fall ahout his 
misshapen shoulders: his left arm is in a 
sling: in his right hand he carries a spear. 
He stands at last listening intently. 

Starting abruptly he lifts his spear, but 
slowly lowers it as an old man, blind, clad 
in a white robe, zvith fat gold cirque ahout 
his ivaist and an oak-fillet round his head, 
comes forzuard leaning on a staff. 

COEL 

Who is it who is near me ? I hear the quick 
breath of one who ... of one who hunts 
... or is hunted. 

Cravetheen 

Druid, I am a stranger. Where am I ? Tell 
me your name ? 

403 



The House of Usna 

COEL 

I am Coel the Druid. . . . Coel the old bUnd 
harper. 

Cravetheen 

I, too, am a harper, though I am no druid. 
I am Cravetheen the Harper. I am warrior 
and chief harper to the great king Conairey 
Mor. I crave sanctuary, Coel the Harper ! I 
crave sanctuary . . . quick ! quick ! 

Coel 
From whom? 

[The confused cries are louder and 
grow louder, then cease. 

Cravetheen 

[Shaking his spear 
From them. 

Coel 

You are safe here. Tell me this, you who 
are called Cravetheen : where is Cormac Con- 
lingas, the son of the High-King Concobar? 
Does he hasten north to the side of his father 
whom he deserted, because Concobar the king 
slew the sons of Usna, and because Deirdre 
died of that great sorrow, Deirdre, the wife of 
Naysha, the pride of the house of Usna? 

404 



The House of Usna 

Cravetheen 

{With savage mocking 

Ay, a great king truly, Concobar, the son of 
Nessa! From childhood he kept the beautiful 
Deirdre to be his queen, but Naysha swooped 
like a hawk and carried her to the north, be- 
cause each loved each and laughed at the king. 
And then did the great Concobar track him 
through Eire to Alba? No! Did he force 
the sword upon him, Deirdre's beloved? No! 
For three years he lay like a wolf on a hill- 
side staring at a far-off fold. . . . and then 
with smooth words he won Naysha and his 
two hero-brothers, and the beautiful Deirdre, 
and gave kingly warrant to them. . . . and 
then, ha ! then was the noise of swords, then 
were red streams of blood, where the House 
of Usna fought the fight of three heroes 
against a multitude . . . and their shameful 
glorious death . . . and then Deirdre, wonder 
of the world, did Concobar win her at the last ? 
No! No! She fell dead by the side of him 
whom she loved, by the body of Naysha, the 
son of Usna! A true queen, Deirdre the 
Beautiful ! 

^°^^ [Raising his staff 

Who are you ? Who are you ? No sanctu- 
ary here for the foe of Concobar the king! 

405 



The House of Usna 

Cravetheen 
[With a loud, wailing, chanting voice 

I am the voice of the House of Usna. I am 
the voice in the wind crying for ever and ever 
" Kings shall lie in the dust : great princes 
shall be brought to shame: the champions of 
the mighty shall be as swordsmen waving 
reeds, as spearmen spearing the grass, as men 
pursuing and wooing shadows ! " (A mo- 
ment's pause.) Ay, by the sun and wind, 
Coel the Blind, I am the broken spear to slay 
them that foully slew the sons of Usna . . . 
the spear to goad to madness Concobar the 
king! 

Coel 

[Angrily 

Tell me, mad fool, do you fly from the 
wrath of Cormac Conlingas, the son of Con- 
cobar ? 

Cravetheen 

[Laughing mockingly 

Cormac, the son of Concobar ! Cormac 
Conlingas, Cormac of the Yellow Locks ! No, 
no, old man, I do not fly before the wrath of 
Cormac the Beautiful ! Nor shall any man 
again fly before him, before Cormac the Beau- 
tiful, Cormac the Prince, Cormac the son of 
Concobar ! 

406 



The House of Usna 

CoEL [Angrily 

What! is the king's son dead ... is he 

slain ? ^ 

Cravetheen 

[Coming close, and speaking low, in a 

changed voice 

Old man, there was a woman of my people 

as beautiful as Deirdre. She loved an Ul- 

tonian, that had for name Cormac. . . . Cor- 

mac Conlingas. Conairey Mor was fierce 

with anger at that, and sent him away, but 

against her will, and gave her to me, who 

loved her, though she hated me. So I took 

her to my Dun. But this Cormac came there 

and found her . . . and I . . . oh, I, too, came 

back suddenly, and learned that he was there ! 

[A long wailing chant is heard 

COEL 

Hush! What is that? 

Cravetheen 
[Still leaning close, and speaking lozv 
That? . . . That is the wailing of those 
who carry hither to Concobar the dead bodies 
of Cormac his son and Eilidh the Fair. 
[Suddenly springing back, and crying loudly.] 
For I set fire to the great Diin, O, Coel the 
Blind, and I laughed when the red flames 

407 



The House of Usna 

swept up to where the sleepers lay — and they 
died, Cormac and Eilidh, to the glad death- 
song of me, Cravetheen the Harper ! Two 
charred logs these mourners carry now — 
Ah-h-h ! 

[As he cries a spear whirls across the 
stage from left to right, then an- 
other, then a third, which strikes 
the ground at Cravetheen's feet. 
Wild cries are heard — a rush — and 
six or eight Ultonian zvarriors leap 
forward, crying as they seize him 

Warriors 

Death to the Harper ! — death to Cravetheen 
the Harper, ^ho has slain the king's son ! 



408 



SCENE II 

In the background, vague in the moon- 
light, the walls of a great Dun or 
ancient fortress, half obscured by trees. 
To the right, in deep shadow, an oak. 
Concobar, wrapt in a white robe, with a 
fillet of gold round his head, leans in silence 
against the oak. In front, in the moon- 
light, the boy Maine, clad in a deerskin, 
lies on the ground looking towards the 
king, and playing softly upon a reed with 
seven holes in it. 

Concobar 
Hush. 

[Maine ceases playing, » 

Concobar 

[Coming slowly forward 
Where is Deirdre? 

Maine 

[Unstirring, plays softly 
40Q 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

[Slowly advancing, till he stands above 
Maine, and looks down at him, in 
silence 
Where is Deirdre? 

Maine 

[Taking the reed from his month, in a 
low, prolonged, chanting voice 
Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

CONCOBAR 

It is the voice of my dreams. 

Maine 

Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

CoNCOBAR [Muttering 

Duach the Wise. . . . Where is Duach the 
Wise ? These were his words : " In the 
whisper of the leaf by night, in the first moan- 
ing air of the new wind, in the voice of the 
wave, that which has been is told, that which 
is to be is known." O, heart of my heart. . . . 
Deirdre, my love, my desire ! 

410 



The House of Usna 

Maine 

[Rises and goes silently over to the oak, 
and leans against it, lost in shadow 

CONCOBAR 

Heart of my heart, Deirdre ! Love of my 
love, desire of all desire — can no voice rise to 
those red lips, red as rowans, in that silent 
place? There is no sadness like unto the 
sadness of the king. Dream of dreams, I 
trampled all dreams till the hour of my desire, 
and in that hour you were stolen from me : 
and in his heart the king was as a swineherd 
herding swine, a helot, a slave. Was it I who 
put death upon Naysha the Fair? Was it I 
who put death upon the sons of Usna? It 
was not I, by the Sun and the Moon ! It was 
the beauty of Deirdre. O, beauty too great 
and sore ! Deirdre, love of my love, sorrow 
of my sorrow, grief of my grief ! I am old, 
because of my sorrow. There is no king so 
great that he may not perish because of a 
woman's love. She sleeps : she sleeps : she is 
not dead ! I will go to the grianan, and will 
cry Heart o' Beauty, azvakc! It is I, Con- 
cohar the King! She will hear, and she will 
put white hands through her hair, like white 
doves going into the shadow of a wood : and I 

4U 



The House of Usna 

will see her eyes like stars, and her face pale 
and wonderful as dawn, and her lips like 
twilight water, and she will sigh, and my heart 
will be as wind fainting in hot grass, and I 
will laugh because that I am made king of the 
world and as the old gods, but greater than 
they, greater than they, greater than they ! 

Maine 
[Chanting slowly from the shadow 
Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

CONCOBAR 

[Slowly turning, and looking towards 
the shadow whence the sound came 

Who spoke? 

[Silence 

CONCOBAR 

Who spoke? (Turning again.) It was the 
pulse of my heart. They lie who say that 
Deirdre is dead. The sons of Usna are dead. 
May the dust of Naysha rot among the worms 
of the earth. It was he who was king, not I ! 
It was he whom Deirdre loved. . . . Deirdre, 
who was so fair, the most beautiful of women; 
my dream, my love ! 

[A long wailing cry is heard. Con- 
cobar lifts his head, and listens. 
412 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

It is Duach. The Druid has deep wisdom, 
I will ask him to tell me where Deirdre is. 
There is no woman in the world for me but 
the daughter of Felim. Her beauty is more 
terrible than day to the creatures of the night ; 
more mysterious than night to the winged 
children of the noon. 

[The boughs dispart, and a tall, white-haired 
man, clad in white, zvith a gold belt, and 
with a wreath of oak leaves, enters from 
the left 

Duach 
Hail, O king! 

CONCOBAR 

I heard the howl of the grey wolf, but now 
you come alone. Where is the wolf? 

Duach 

There was no wolf. It was an image only 
of your own mind. It was but your own 
sorrow, O king. 

CONCOBAR 

Tell me, Duach, who lives in yonder great 
Dun? 

413 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

[Looking at the king curiously, then 
sloivly 

Concobar the king; with the comrades of 
the king, and his guards ; his harpers and 
poets ; the women of the household. 

Concobar 
Can you see the grianan, Duach ? 

DuACH 
I see the grianan, Concobar mac Nessa. 

Concobar 

Nessa . . . yes, I am the son of Nessa. . . . 
Nessa, who was so fair. Tell me, Duach ; in 
her youth was she so beautiful as the harpers 
and poets say? 

Duach 

She was so beautiful that few looked at her 
untroubled. In her eyes youths dreamed ; old 
men looked back. To all men Nessa was a 
light and a flame. 

Concobar 

Was she fair, as Deirdre is fair? Was 
she beautiful, as Deirdre is beautiful? 

4T4 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

Deirdre, whom you have slain, is dead. 

CONCOBAR 

[Calling 

Deirdre, dear love, come ! I am here ! I 
wait! 

DuACH 

From that silence where both are, their 
names only may come back like falling dew. 

CONCOBAR 

There is none so beautiful as Deirdre. 

DUACH 

She sleeps by Naysha, son of Usna. 

Con COB AR 

[Furiously 
You lie, old man. Naysha is dead. 

DuACH 

She sleeps by Naysha, son of Usna. 

CONCOBAR 

[ Troubled 
Tell me ! When shall she wake ? 

415 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

She shall wake no more. 

CONCOBAR 

Speak no lies, Druid. I heard her laugh a 
brief while ago. She came out into the woods 
at the rising of the moon. 

DUACH 

She will wake no more. 

[Silence 

DuACH 

Hearken, Concobar mac Nessa ! That was 
an evil deed, the slaying of the sons of Usna. 
There were the noblest of all the Gaels of Eire 
and Alba. 

Concobar 

[Sullenly 
They are dead. 

DUACH 

They are more to be feared dead than when 
their young, sweet, terrible life was upon 
them. Their voices cry for vengeance, and all 
men hear. Women whisper. 

Concobar 
What do they whisper? 

416 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

"Most fair and beautiful were the sons of 
Usna, slain treacherously by Concobar the 
High-King." 

Concobar 

What vengeance is called for by those who 
cry for an eric? 

DuACH 

It is no eric they cry, but the broken honour 
of the king. 

Concobar 

And what do the young men say ? 

DuACH 

They say : " He has slain the image of our 
desire." 

Concobar 

And what is the burthen of the sing the 
singers sing? 

DuACH 

" The beauty of the world is now as an old 
song that is sung." 

[Silence 

417 



The House of Usna 

Maine 

[From the shadow of the oak, strikes 
a note, and, in a low voice, chants 
slozvly 
Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

CONCOBAR 

Can dreams have a voice ? 

DuACH 

They alone speak. It is our spoken words 
that are the idle dreams. 

CoNCOBAR 

Dreams — dreams. I am sick of dreams ! It 
is love I long for — my lost love! my lost love ! 

DuACH 

It is a madness, that love. 

CoNCOBAR 

Better that madness than all wisdom. 

[Silence 
Maine 

[Playing a note or two, slowly, chants, 
from the shadow of the oak 
Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

418 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

Duach, can dreams speak? 

DUACH 

The dead, old wisdom, the wind, dreams — 
these speak. All else are troubled murmurs, 
confused cries, echoes of echoes. 

CONCOBAR 

[Stands with outstretched arms, star- 
ing towards the Dun 

Duach 
Death and beauty are in his eyes. 

CoNCOBAR 

[With a sudden, passionate gesture, 
Hinging up his arms supplicatingly 

Deirdre, my queen, my dream, my desire ! 
Death and beauty were in your eyes as a little 
child, oh, fawn of women, when I lit my 
dreams at your face before the House of 
Usna did me that bitter, bitter wrong! . . . 
that bitter, bitter wrong! O. Naysha, more 
terrible your quiet smile in death than all the 
armies of Meave! Deirdre, Deirdre, death 

419 



The House of Usna 

and beauty are in your eyes, my queen, my 
dream, my desire! 

[With a sobbing cry he sinks to his 
knees, bows his head, and pulls his 
robe about him 

Maine 

[Slowly advances from the shadow, 
softly playing on his reed-Uute 

DUACH 

Sing! 

Maine 

[Sings 

Dim face of Beauty haunting all the world, 
Fair face of Beauty all too fair to see, 
Where the lost stars adown the heavens are 
hurled, 

There, there alone for thee 

May white peace be. 

For here, where all the dreams of men are 

whirled 
Like sere, torn leaves of autumn to and fro, 
There is no place for thee in all the world. 

Who drifted as a star, 

Beyond, afar. 

420 



The House of Usna 

Beauty, and face of Beauty, Mystery, Wonder, 
What are these dreams to fooUsh babbling 

men — 
Who cry with little noises 'neath the thunder 

Of ages ground to sand, 

To a little sand? 

[Concobar sloii'ly rises. He turns and 
looks at Maine 

Concobar 
Who made that song? 

Maine 

Cormac the Red, the father of my father, 
and son of Felim the Harper. 

Concobar 

Felim! . . . Felim the Harper — it was he 
who was the father of Deirdre. He harps no 
more. [Turning to Duach.] Do you remem- 
ber when we went to the house of Felim the 
Harper in the days of my youth ? Do you 
remember the birthnight of Deirdre? 

Duach 
Ay. 

421 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

And the prophecy of Cathba the Arch- 
Druid? 

DUACH 

I 

Ay: that before his eyes he saw a sea of 
blood, and saw it rise and rise and rise till it 
overflowed great straths, and laved the flanks 
of high hills, and from the summits of the 
mountains poured down upon the lands of the 
Gael in a thundering flood, blood-red, to the 
blood-red sea. 

CONCOBAR 

[Troubled, and moving slowly to and 
fro 
Did Cathba see the end? 

DuACH 

He saw the end. 

CONCOBAR 

It was but the idle wisdom of a dreamer. 

DuACH 

That idle wisdom is the utterance of the 
gods. The dreamers and poets and seers are 
their voices. 

422 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

What were the last words of Cathba the 
Wise ? 

DUACH 

That Eire, the most beautiful of all lands 
under the sun, should be the saddest of all 
lands under the sun. Blood shall run in that 
land till Famine shall make her home there, 
he said : and tears shall be shed for it in every 
age : and all wisdom and beauty and hope shall 
grow there : and she shall be a lamp, and 
then know the darkness of darkness. But be- 
fore the end she shall be a queenly land again, 
and the nations shall bow before her as the 
soul of peoples born anew. For into all the 
nations of the world, he said, Eire shall die, 
but shall live again. She shall be the soul of 
the nations. 

Con COB AR 

Too many dreams . . . too many dreams? 

DuACH 

Cathba saw all that is to be. 

CONCOBAk 

If Felim the Harper were to come again. . . . 

423 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

He would ask : Where is Emain Macha, 
the royal city, the beautiful city? Where are 
the sons of Usna? Where is Deirdre, the 
most beautiful of women? Where is the glory 
of the Red Branch ? 

CONCOBAR 

[ Confusedly 

The Red Branch! ... The Red Branch! 
At least, at least, the Red Branch stands ! 

DuACH 

What of Fergus? . . . what of Cormac 
Conlingas ? They and a third of the Red 
Branch are gone from you : Fergus, the first 
champion of Ulla ; Cormac Conlingas, the 
greatest of your sons, the king that is to be! 

CONCOBAR 

Conaill Carna is with me . . . and Setanta 
the wonderful youth, that is called Cuchulain. 

DUACH 

Yet neither they nor the gods themselves 
shall in the end prevail. 

424 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

[With sudden passion 
Duach, win back to me my son Cormac, and 
I will give you whatsoever you will — yea, my 
kingship. Him only do I love of all men, him 
only, my son who is so fair and proud and 
beautiful. He shall be High-king; he and he 
only is the son of my kinghood. 

Duach 
That which is to be, will be. 

CONCOBAR 

[Looking fixedly at him 
Shall not Cormac Conlingas be king after 
me? 

Duach 

Have you forgotten, O king! Cormac mac 
Concobar is in arms against you. He and 
Fergus and a third of the Red Branch are 
with Queen Meave, whose armies gather to 
overwhelm you, to do to Ulla as the Great 
Queen has already done to Emain Macha, 
your proud city. 

Concobar 
Cormac, my son, my son ! 

425 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

These were the words he sent : " For that 
which you did upon Naysha and the sons of 
Usna, and for that shame which you brought 
upon Fergus mac Roy, and because of the 
beauty of Deirdre which is no more in the 
world because of you . . . the Sword and 
Sorrow, Sorrow and the Sword ! " 

CONCOBAR 

[Angrily and impatiently 

I care not ! I care not ! He shall be king. 
Listen ! Duach ; I will send word to Cormac 
that I am weary of the kingship. He shall be 
Tanist, with all power. He shall be the Ard- 
Righ himself. He shall save Eire. The 
prophecies of Cathba shall be set at nought. 
He shall be a great king. All Eire shall call 
him king. All the Gaels shall call him Ard- 
Righ. His son's sons shall reign after him. 
Ireland shall be made one nation, because of 
this great king — Cormac, the son of Concobar, 
the son of Flachtna, kings and sons of kings! 

Duach 
Beware, O Concobar, of the foam of 
dreams. It is only the great wave that will 
lift Eire. 

426 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

The great wave? Shall not that be the 
king? 

DUACH 

Through no king can Eire become one 
nation and great, but only through the kingli- 
hood of her sons and daughters. In the end, 
v/hen all are royal of soul, Eire shall be the 
first of the nations of the world. 

CONCOBAR 

[Confusedly 

In the end? ... In the end? Of what do 
you speak ? Cormac shall be king, he and his 
sons after him. The blood of the gods is in 
Essa, his wife. 

DuACH 

[Leaning forward, and staring into the 
king's face 
Essa? . . . Have you not heard? Essa is 
dead! 

CONCOBAR 

Essa is not dead. I saw her and Deirdre 
and Dectera, my sister, and my mother Nessa, 
walking in the wood at the rising of the moon. 

427 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

[Muttering 

Ay, that might well be. It is the hour of the 

dead. 

CoNCOBAR [Sadly 

Is she dead, Essa, daughter of Etain the 
Wonderful? 

DUACH 

She is not dead, being of the Divine race. 
But her body lies at Rath Nessa, where in the 
dream of death she can look for ever upon 
the Hill of Tara. 

CONCOBAR 

Hopes fall about me as old leaves. [A 
pause.] Nevertheless, I will send to Cormac 
at the camp of Queen Meave. There shall be 
no more war. Cormac Conlingas shall be 
king. 

DUACH 

Cormac is not there. He is one of the nine 
hostages at the Dun of Conairey Mor, the 
king of the Middle Province. Meave marches 
against him. 

CONCOBAR 

Fergus was king no more because of Nessa : 
I am king no more because of Deirdre. She 
is not here, the beautiful Deirdre. She is here 

428 



The House of Usna 

no more. I will go into the woods, and upon 
the hills. I am led by dreams and visions. 
Deirdre, my dream and my desire! 

DUACH 

[Aside 

The prophecy of the sting that was to sting 
to madness the King of the Ultonians! The 
gods see far ! 

CONCOBAR 



[Starting 



Who . . . what is that? 
DUACH 



I see nothing, 

CONCOBAR 

[Pointing 

Look! . . . yonder ... a white hound — a 
white hound, that moves through the wood! 
How swift and silent. . . see, his head is low 
. . . he is on the trail ... is it Rumac? 

[An echo in the woods 

Rumac! Cormac! Cormac! 

CONCOBAR 

[Moves backivard a step 
What! Cormac! . . . Carmac? ... my 
son Cormac ! 

429 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

[Staring into the dusk of the woods 
I seen no hound. . , . Where is the white 
hound ? 

CONCOBAR 

Yonder . , . under the oaks ... he goes 
swiftly to the place where he was born. 

DuACH 

Who? 

CONCOBAR 

Cormac. Cormac ConHngas, my son. Is 
this evil fallen upon me because of the death 
of Deirdre? Is this evil come upon me out 
of the House of Usna? 

DUACH 

The House of Usna is in the dust. 

CONCOBAR 

[Distraught, loudly chants 
The grey wind weeps, the grey wind weeps, 

the grey wind weeps; 
Dust on her breasts, dust in her eyes, the grey 
wind weeps! 

DuACH 

The hound is gone. 

430 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

[Putting his finger on his lips 

Hush ! do you hear the Httle children of the 
wind . . . rustling and laughing . . . the little 
children of the wind? Or are they the little 
white feet of those who come at dusk? Or 
are they the waves of the Moyle . . tears, 
tears, sighs, oh tears, tears, tears, of Deirdre 
upon the dark waters of the Moyle ! 

DUACH 

Deirdre is in that far place where your 
hound of old is . . . where Rumac bays 
against a moon that does not set or wane. 



[Calling 



CONCOBAR 

Rumac ! Rumac ! 

Echo 
Coomac! Coomac! 

CONCOBAR 

Cormac, my beautiful son ! Cormac ! come ! 
come! 

[A sound of a harp is heard. Both start 

CONCOBAR 

Who comes? 

431 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

Someone comes through the wood. 

CONCOBAR 

[Drawing his sword 

It is Naysha, son of Usna. Night after 

night I hear him come harping through the 

woods. Sometimes I see him, standing under 

an oak. He calls upon Deirdre. 

DUACH 

It is Coel mac Coel, the old blind harper — 
he who loved Macha the great queen, and was 
blinded by her because that he loved over- 
much. He alone wandered free out of Emain 
Macha when the beautiful city was laid waste. 
He is not alone ; there are the young bards 
and minstrels with him. For the last three 
nights they have come in the darkness, and 
sung before the Royal Dun the song which 
Coel made of Macha and her beautiful city. 
Hark ! They sing now. 

[The noise of harps and tympans. From the 
wood conies the loud chanting voice of Coel: 

O, 'tis a good house, and a palace fair, the 
Dun of Macha, 
And happy with a great household is Macha 
there : 

432 



The House of Usna 

Druids she has, and bard^s, minstrels, harpers, 
knights ; 
Hosts of servants she has, and wonders 

beautiful and rare. 
But nought so wonderful and sweet as her 
face, queenly fair, 
O Macha of the Ruddy Hair! 

[Choric voices in a loud, S7uelling chant: 
O Macha of the Ruddy Hair! 

CoEL chants: 

The colour of her great Dun is the shining 

whiteness of lime, 
And within it are floors strewn with green 

rushes and couches white 
Soft wondrous silks and blue gold-claspt 

mantles and furs 
Are there, and jewelled golden cups for 

revelry by night : 
Thy grianan of gold and glass is filled with 

sunshine-light, 

O Macha, queen by day, queen by night ! 

[Choric Voices: 

O Macha, queen by day, queen by night ! 

Beyond the green portals, and the brown and 

red thatch of wings 
Striped orderly, the wings of innumerous 

stricken birds, 

433 



The House of Usna 

A wide shining floor reaches from wall to wall, 

wondrously carven 
Out of a sheet of silver, whereon are graven 

swords 
Intricately ablaze : mistress of many hoards 
Art thovi, Macha of few words ! 

[Choric Voices: 

O Macha of few words ! 

Fair indeed is thy couch, but fairer still is thy 

throne, 
A chair it is, all of a blaze of wonderful yellow 

gold: 
There thou sittest, and watchest the women 

going to and fro. 
Each in garments fair and with long locks 

twisted fold in fold : 
With the joy that is in thy house men would 

not grow old, 

O Macha, proud, austere, cold. 

[Choric Voices: 

O Macha, proud, austere, cold. 

Of a surety there is much joy to be had of 

thee and thine, 
There in the song-sweet sunlit bowers in that 

place ; 
Wounded men might sink in sleep and be well 

content 

434 



The House of Usna 

So to sleep, and to dream perchance, and 

know no other grace 
Than to wake and look betimes on thy proud 

queenly face, 

O Macha of the Proud Face ! 

[Choric Voices: 

O Macha of the Proud Face ! 

And if there be any here who wish to know 

more of this wonder, 
Go, you will find all as I have shown, as I 

have said : 
From beneath its portico, thatched with wings 

of birds blue and yellow, 
Reaches a green lawn, where a fount is fed 
From crystal and gems : of crystal and gold 
each bed 

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy 
Head! 

[Choric Voices: 

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy 
Head ! 

In that great house where Macha the queen 

has her pleasaunce 
There is everything in the whole world that a 

man might desire, 
God is my witness that if I say little it is for 

this, 

435 



The House of Usna 

That I am grown faint with wonder, and can 

no more admire, 
But say this only, that I Hve and die in the 
fire 

Of thine eyes, O Macha, my desire, 
With thine eyes of fire ! 

[Choric Voices in a loud, swelling chant: 

But say this only, that we live and die in the 

fire 
Of thine eyes, O Macha, Dream, Desire, 
With thine eyes of fire ! 

[Choric Voices repeat their refrains, hut 
fainter, and becoming more faint. Last 
vanishing sound of the harps and tympans 

CONCOBAR 

Is Emain Macha as a dream that is no 
more? 

DUACH 

Emain Macha, the beautiful city, is as a 
dream that is no more. 

[A moan of wind 

CONCOBAR 

Wind, wind, nothing but wind ! 

436 



The House of Usna 

DUACII 

Clouds cover the moon. Let us go, O king. 
To-night, dreams : the morrow waits, when 
dreams will be realities. 

CONCOBAR 

Dreams, dreams, nothing but dreams ! 

[Slozvly Concobar and Duach pass through 
the darkening gloom. The Dun becomes 
more and more obscure. From the dark- 
ness to the right a single Hute note, where 
Maine lies 

Maine 

[Chanting slowly, unseen 

Deirdre is dead! Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead I 



437 



SCENE III 

Scene the same. — Ultonian Warriors have 
brought Cravetheen the Harper — a mis- 
shapen savage figure, held by two war- 
riors — before the king, so that Concobar 
may decree what manner of death the 
man is to die, because of having murdered 
Cormac by setting fire to the Dun, where 
he and Eilidh lay, and burning him and 
his love, and all that were within the Dun. 

Concobar 

T have heard all. Let him go. What is 
death ? 

[Cravetheen is released 

Cravetheen 
Have you no mercy, O king? 

Concobar 
Harper, you have your life. Go! 

438 



The House of Usna 

Cravetheen 
Have you no mercy, O king? 

CONCOBAR 

What is your desire? 

Cravetheen 

I have but one desire, Concobar, King of 
Ulla. 

Concobar 
Speak. 

Cravetheen 

It is that I may know death. 

Concobar 

[Rising^ and smiling strangely 
Brother, I, too — I, too, have that one desire. 

Cravetheen 

[Confusedly 
You . . . the king. . . . 

Maine 

[Lying under an oak, makes a clear 
not on his rced-Hute, and chants 
slowly, with wailing rise and fall 

439 



The House of Usna 

Deirdre is dead! Deirdrc the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 

Cravetheen 

[Muttering 

Ah, now I know! Now I know! [Moving 
slowly tozvards the king.] That cry is the cry 
of the House of Usna! The gods do not 
sleep, O king. That cry is the cry of the 
House of Usna! 

CONCOBAR 

[With sudden fury, reaching out his 
arms as though cursing or abhor- 
ring the speaker 
Take him away ! To death ! ... to death ! 
Away with him ! 

Cravetheen 

[Eagerly and triumphantly 
I am the voice of the House of Usna, O 
king! 

CONCOBAR 

[Furiously 

Tie him to the sapHngs! Let him die the 
death of the oaks ! 

440 



TJie House of Usna 

Warriors 

[Shouting 

To the Death-tree ! To the Death-tree ! 
[They seise Cravetheen and drag him 
away into the wood 

CONCOBAR 

[Staring about him confusedly 
Who spoke? [Lower, in a hoarse whisper.] 
Who spoke? 

DUACH 

O king, there is no evil done upon the world 
that the wind does not bring back to the feet 
of him who wrought it. 

CONCOBAR 

The wind ! . . . The wind ! 

DuACH 

O king, the gods abhor most the evil that is 
wrought unworthily by the great. 

CONCOBAR 

Who are the great ... I have lost love, 
and my kinglihood, and my son, and all, all 
my hopes. Who are the great ? 

441 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

O king, you have slain youth, and love, and 
beauty. 

CONCOBAR 

[ Wailingly 

Life. . . . Life. . . . Life for ever slays 
youth, and love, and beauty. 

DUACH 

Take not the brute law to be the divine law. 
O king, are prophecies idle ways of an idle 
wind? Long, long ago it was foretold that 
evil would come upon you and your house be- 
cause of your uncontrolled desire, but what 
avail ? Your ears were deaf. 

CoNCOBAR 

Why do the gods pursue me? I am old, I 
am old. 

DuACH 

At the kindling of the light they look into 
the silent earth, and they behold the slain 
bodies of Naysha and Ailne and Ardan, and a 
shade stands at their grave calling night and 
day — / am the House of Usna! 

442 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

Druid, is there no evil done upon the world, 
is there no slaying of young men, is there no 
falling of heroic names into the dust, save 
what I have done ? 

DUACH 

Because of your desire you slew your kingli- 
hood. 

CONCOBAR 

My kinglihood ? 

DuACH 

More terrible than the fate of Usna is the 
fall of royal honour. More terrible than the 
death of Naysha is the shame put upon those 
who blindly did your will. More terrible than 
the death of Deirdre is the undoing of the 
great wonder and mystery of beauty. The 
gods call. ..." Concohar, Concobar, thy 
thirst shall be for shadows, and the rose of 
thy desire shall be dust within thy mouth!" 

Concobar 

[Hopelessly 

It was because of love. ... It was because 
of love. 

443 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

Yes, O king . . . love of thine own love. 

[Silence 

CONCOBAR 

Evil can be undone. 

DuACH 

Where are the sons of Usna ? 

CONCOBAR 

I tell you, Druid, evil can be undone. I 
repent me of my evil. ... I repent me of my 

evil. 

DUACH 

Where are the sons of Usna ? Where is the 
word of the king? Where is Deirdre, the 
too great beauty of this evil time? Where is 
Emain Macha, the beautiful city? Where is 
the glory of the Red Branch ? Where is Cor- 
mac, Cormac Conlingas, who was to be king? 
Where stands Eire that was to be one nation? 

CONCOBAR 

[In a hoarse whisper 

Have all these evils come upon me because 
I was a king and because I loved ? 

444 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

Because you were a king and chose the un- 
kingly way. 

CONCOBAR 

[ Wailingly 
Good blooms like a flower that has its day : 
evil like a weed that endures, and grows and 
grows and grows, 

DuACH 

But the evil that is done of kings shall cover 
the whole land. 

CONCOBAR 

[Starting, and furiously 

Enough ! Enough, Druid ! I have heard 
enough. I am the king. [Raising his sword, 
and looking tozvards the Warriors, shouts.] 
Ultonians, awake ! I am the king. I am the 
Red Branch. On the morrow we march. I 
shall lead you, with Conaill Carna and with 
Cuchulain. The armies of Queen Meave shall 
be scattered like dry leaves. Fear not the 
gods ! The gods follow the victorious sword ! 
Before the new moon all the gods of the Gael 
will be on our side! The Red Branch! The 
Red Branch! 

445 



The House of Usna 

Warriors 

{Clashing swords and spears 
The Red Branch! The Red Branch! 

CONCOBAR 

Up with the Sunburst ! Up with the banner 
of the Sunburst ! 

Warriors 
The Sunburst! The Sunburst! 



Concobar 

[Triumphantly 

The gods are with us ! {Lower, and turn- 
ing to Duach, exultantly.) The gods are with 
us. Druid, it is the will of man that compels 
the gods, not the gods who compel man. 



Duach 

[After a momentary pause, and laying 
his hand on the king's arm 
The gods are the will of man. For good 
and for evil the gods are the will of man. 

446 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

Stand back, Druid. I am weary of your 
subtleties. (Slwiits.) Warriors, go ! On the 
morrow I shall lead you — I, and Conaill the 
Victorious, and Cuchulain the greatest cham- 
pion of Eire ! 

Warriors 

[Go shouting, and after they have gone 
their voices are heard repeating 
the acclaim 
Concobar! Concobar! Conaill Carna! 
Cuchulain! Cuchulain! 

Concobar 
[Looking sombrely at Duach 
Druid, go ! I would be alone. 

Duach 
I go. But truly, yea, truly, O king, you 
shall be alone from this hour. 

Concobar 

[Scornfully 

Enough. I am the king. I have great 
dreams. The gods are with me. They have 
forgotten, for they do not long remember the 
dead! 

447 



The House of Usna 

DUACH 

[Meaningly, as he moves slowly away 
The gods neither sleep nor do they forget. 

[A long pause. Silence 

CONCOBAR 

[Alone, exultantly 
I am the king. I have great dreams. 

[A wailing voice from the wood. The 
king starts, raising his sword. 

CONCOBAR 

Who is that ? . . . what is that ? 

Cravetheen 

[Unseen, on the Death-tree 

It is I, Cravetheen, in my hour of death. 

[Silence. The king stands listening. 
Again a long wailing cry. 

Cravetheen 

The gods do not sleep, O king! , . . Farewell. 

[Slozvly Cone oh ar lowers his szvord. 
It falls with a crash to the ground. 
He stands as though spell-bound. 

448 



The House of Usna 

CONCOBAR 

[In an awed whispering voice 
It is the cry of the House of Usna! 

[Silence. Slowly the king lifts his 

hand to his face, and bows his 

head. 

From the wood the boy Maine breathes 

three poignant notes on his reed-flute, and 

chants slowly with long rise and fall. 

Deirdre is dead. Deirdre the Beautiful is 
dead, is dead! 



THE END 



449 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

By Mrs. William Sharp 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

Into this book are gathered the poems — with a 
few exceptions — and the two finished dramas written 
by William Sharp under the pseudonym of "Fiona 
Macleod." One or two early lyrics in the present 
volume were not reprinted in the posthumous Eng- 
lish Edition of From the Hills of Dream, because that 
selection was made, but not arranged, by the author 
for a second and enlarged but not necessarily final 
edition of the verse of "Fiona Macleod." 

I have adhered as much as possible to a chrono- 
logical sequence. The poems grouped in the sec- 
tions From, the Hills of Dream., and those marked 
elsewhere with *, were written between 1 893-1 896 
and published under that title in 1896 by Patrick 
Geddes and Colleagues, Edinburgh. In 1901 a 
selection from that volume, together with poems 
written between 1 896-1 900, was published under 
the original title by Mr. Thomas B. Mosher, in 
America. Those later poems are, in this Collect- 
ed Edition, grouped together in "Foam of the 
Past" and "Through the Ivory Gate;" and those 
written subsequently, 1900- 190 5, form the sections 
"The Dirge of the Four Cities" (with the exception 
of Murias which was previously published as "Re- 
quiem") and "The Hour of Beauty;" and form 
part of the posthumous English Edition of From 
the Hills of Dream issued by Mr. Heinemann in 
1907. The subsequent poems, 1900- 190 5, together 

453 



Bibliographical Note 

with those herein marked with an O, were published 
under the title of The Hour of Beauty, by Mr. Mosher, 
in 1907. 

I wish to express my indebtedness to Mr. Alfred 
Noyes for permission to reprint at the end of the 
volume, his Sonnet "To Fiona MacLeod," which 
appeared first in the Fortnightly Review in 1906, 
and in 1907 as preface to the American Edition of 
the tale entitled "The Wayfarer" (from The Winged 
Destiny) published by Mr. Mosher. 

The two poetic dramas "The House of Usna" 
and "The Immortal Hour," were intended by the 
author to form part of a series of plays to be pub- 
lished collectively as The Theatre of the Soul, or 
The Psychic Drama. The names of these unwritten, 
though mentally cartooned poetic plays, by "Fiona 
Macleod," were "Nial the Soulless," "The King of 
Ys," "Drostan and Yssul," "The Veiled Avenger," 
"The Book of Dalua." 

The two completed poetic plays appeared orig- 
inally in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. In the 
original manuscript the former bears the title "The 
King of Ireland's Son," though preference was given 
later to "The House of Usna," and under this name 
the play was produced by The Stage Society and 
acted at the Globe Theatre on the 29th of April, 
1900, under William Sharp's direct supervision — 
when one or two only of the audience, other than 
the occupants of our stage box, knew that the 
author," Fiona Macleod" witnessed the performance 
in the person of the President of The Stage Society. 
"The House of Usna" has not hitherto been pub- 
lished in book form in Great Britain, but an Ameri- 
can edition was brought out in America by Mr. 
Mosher, in 1903. 

454 



Bibliographical Note 

"The Immortal Hour" was altered and rewritten 
several times. I cannot recall when it was begun, 
but my husband read it to me at Ballycastle, Ire- 
land, in the summer of 1899. The original form, as 
printed in The Fortnightly Review, lacked the pres- 
ent opening, and finished with a short epilogue; this 
forepart was specially revised and printed separ- 
ately as "Dalua," and thus described by the author: 
"A fragment, as 'The Immortal Hour' itself is, of 
the as yet unwritten Book of Dalua or Book of the 
Dark Fool, of whose fulfilment the author some- 
times dreams." 

"The Immortal Hour" was published posthu- 
mously in America by Mr. Mosher, in 1907, and in 
England by Mr. T. N. Foulis in 1908. 

A word concerning the illustrations. The suggest- 
ive landscapes in volumes II, III, IV, V, VI — re- 
produced from drawings by the Highland painter 
and etcher, Mr. D. Y. Cameron — are glimpses of 
some of those Isles of the West that form the setting 
to so many of the "Fiona Macleod " Tales: Arran, 
with its picturesque hills; lona, the Isle of Dreams, 
with its "Svmdown Shores" ; the Treshnish Isles, that 
lie further westward in the Atlantic ; and Skye, the 
Isle of Mists, that fronts the stormy northern seas. 

The portraits in volumes I and VII are from 
photographs of William Sharp that date to the 
period of the "Fiona Macleod" writings. That 
in volume I was taken in Dublin, in 1896, two years 
after the appearance of Pharais; that in volume 
VII was taken in Sicily, at II Castello di Maniace, 
by the Duke of Bronte, in 1903, a few months prior 
to the publication of The Winged Destiny. 

Elizabeth A. Sharp. 

455 



FIONA MACLEOD 

A spirit listened to the whispering grass, 
That shimtnered with wet tints of human tears, 
And like a wandering wind the lonely years 
Dried them; the spirit heard that low wind pass. 
And cried There is no Time: Time never was! 
Then beat it down and flew beyond the spheres. 
To where the immortal Face of Beauty wears 
That smile which earth sees darkly, as in a glass. 

And now where'er the dews at nightfall glisten, 
Where'er the mountain-winds are breathing low. 
Where'er the seas creep glimmering to the shore. 
Some wanderer shall pause awhile and listen. 
And see i' the darkling glass a tenderer glow 
Whence that bright spirit whispers evermore. 

Alfred Noyes. 



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