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Ireland Calling Me Home Sonnets

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cock; with hoes

Tan-faced harvest folk trudge in the heat:

The neighbours at their shady doors swept clean,

Gossip, and with cool eve fresh scents of wheat,

Grasses and leaves, come from the meadows green.

I walk of grey noons by the old canal

Where rain-drops patter on the autumn leaves,

Now watching from some ivied orchard wall

In slopes of stubble figures pile the sheaves;

Or under banks in shadow of their grass,

Blue water-flies by starts jettingly pass

'Mid large leaves level on the glassy cool;

Or noiseless dizzy midges winking round

The yellow sallows of the meadow pool;

While into cloudy silence ebbs each sound,

And sifts the moulting sunlight warm and mellow

O'er sandy beach remote, or slumberous flood,

Or rooky, red brick mansion by the wood,

Mossed gate, or farmyard hay-stacks tanned and yellow

Now, winter's dolorous days are o'er, and through

March morning casements comes the sharp spring air,

And noises from the distant city, where

The steeples stand up keenly in the blue:

No more the clouds by crispy frost defined,

Pile the pale North, but float, dispersed shapes;

Though still around the cool grey twilight capes,

The sullen sea is dark with drifts of wind.

Like a forgotten fleck of snow still left,

The cascade gleams in the far mountain cleft;

Brown rushes by the river's brimming bank

Rustle, and matted sedges sway and sigh,

Where grasses in sleek shallows waver dank,

Or drift in windy ripples greyly by.


Blow, summer wind, from yonder ocean blow

Along the wild sea banks and grasses drear,

And loamy shores, where mosses brown and sere

And pale pinks in the sandy ridges grow;

Float round yon promontory in the brine,

Whose stretching arm in deepest azure lies,

Where quiet browse the heavy-uddered kine

By rock and shining shallow, grey and clear;

And fill, this listless hour, the dreamy ear

With thy scarce toned and wordless harmonies:

For here with Nature will I rest, and please

My heart with sweetest fancies all the noon,

Until the limpid crescent of the moon

Lights the blue east above the evening trees.

Elizabeth Mary Little


Ah, Life! that mystery that no man knows,

And all men ask, the Arab from his sands,

The Caesar's self, lifting imperial hands,

And the lone dweller where the lotus blows;

O'er trackless tropics and o'er silent snows

She dumbly broods, that Sphinx of all the lands,

And if she answers no man understands,

And no cry breaks the blank of her repose.

But a new form dawned once upon my pain,

With grave sad lips, yet in the eyes a smile

Of deepest meaning dawning sweet and slow,

Lighting to service, and no more in vain

I ask of Life, "What art thou?" as erewhile,

For since Love holds my hand I seem to know.

Sidney Royse Lysaght

The Penalty of Love

If love should count you worthy, and should deign

One day to seek your door and be your guest,

Pause! ere you draw the bolt and bid him rest,

If in your old content you would remain.

For not alone he enters: in his train

Are angels of the mists, the lonely quest,

Dreams of the unfulfilled and unpossessed.

And sorrow, and life's immemorial pain.

He wakes desires you never may forget,

He shows you stars you never saw before,

He makes you share with him for evermore,

The burden of the world's divine regret

How wise were you to open not!--and yet,

How poor if you should turn him from the door.

Francis Macnamara

Diminutivus Ululans (To John Macnamara)

Wailing diminutive of me, be still

Or cry, but spare me that regretful tone,

Of sorrows elemental waxing shrill,

O you of living things the most alone!

Son, do you thus reproach me and make moan,

Because upon Love's chariot I did fly

And a horn winded in the great unknown,

Calling your atoms out to be an I?

Should I have let you in abeyance lie,

Disintegrate another million years?

Then use your life to teach you how to die

And pass again beyond the reach of tears,

Some day you may regret I dragged you thence,

Perhaps forgive the vast impertinence.

Standish James O'Grady (1846-1915)

Lough Bray

Now Memory, false, spendthrift Memory,

Disloyal treasure-keeper of the soul,

This vision change shall never wring from thee

Nor wasteful years, effacing as they roll.

O steel-blue lake, high cradled in the hills!

O sad waves, filled with little sobs and cries!

White glistening shingle, hiss of mountain rills,

And granite-hearted walls blotting the skies,

Shine, sob, gleam, gloom for ever! Oh, in me

Be what you are in Nature--a recess--

To sadness dedicate and mystery,

Withdrawn, afar, in the soul's wilderness.

Still let my thoughts, leaving the worldly roar

Like pilgrims, wander on thy haunted shore.

John Todhunter

A June Day

The very spirit of summer breathes to-day,

Here where I sun me in a dreamy mood,

And laps the sultry leas, and seems to brood

Tenderly o'er those hazed hills far away.

The air is fragrant with the new-mown hay,

And drowsed with hum of myriad flies pursued

By twittering martins. All yon hillside wood

Is drowned in sunshine till its green looks grey.

No scrap of cloud is in the still blue sky,

Vaporous with heat, from which the foreground trees

Stand out--each leaf cut sharp. The whetted scythe

Makes rustic music for me as I lie,

Watching the gambols of the children blythe,

Drinking the season's sweetness to the lees.

The Marseillaise

What means this mighty chant, wherein its wail

Of some intolerable woe, grown strong

With sense of more intolerable wrong

Swells to a stern victorious march--a gale

Of vengeful wrath? What mean the faces pale,

The fierce resolve, the ecstatic pangs along

Life's fiery ways, the demon thoughts which throng

The gates of awe, when these wild notes assail

The sleeping of our souls ? Hear ye no more

Than the mad foam of revolution's leaven,

Than a roused people's throne-o'erwhelming tread?

Hark! 'tis man's spirit thundering on the shore

Of iron fate; the tramp of Titans dread,

Sworn to dethrone the Gods unjust from Heaven.

Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886)


I stood beside a pool, from whence ascended,

Mounting the cloudy platforms of the wind,

A stately heron; its soaring I attended,

Till it grew dim, and I with watching blind--

When lo! a shaft of arrowy light descended

Upon its darkness and its dim attire;

It straightway kindled them, and was afire,

And with the unconsuming radiance blended.

And bird, a cloud, flecking the sunny air,

It had its golden dwelling 'mid the lightning

Of those empyreal domes, and it might there

Have dwelt for ever, glorified and bright'ning,

But that its wings were weak--so it became

A dusky speck again, that was a winged flame.

The Onward Course

Our course is onward, onward into light:

What though the darkness gathereth amain,

Yet to return or tarry both are vain.

How tarry, when around us is thick night?

Whither return? what flower yet ever might,

In days of gloom and cold and stormy rain,

Enclose itself in its green bud again,

Hiding from wrath of tempest out of sight?

Courage--we travel through a darksome cave;

But still as nearer to the light we draw,

Fresh gales will reach us from the upper air

And wholesome dews of heaven our foreheads lave,

The darkness lighten more, till full of awe

We stand in the open sunshine unaware.

In a Pass of Bavaria between the Walchen and the Waldensee

"His voice was as the sound

of many waters."

A sound of many waters!--now I know

To what was likened the large utterance sent

By Him who mid the golden lampads went:

Innumerable streams, above, below,

Some seen, some heard alone, with headlong flow

Come rushing; some with smooth and sheer descent,

Some dashed to foam and whiteness, but all blent

Into one mighty music.

As I go,

The tumult of a boundless gladness fills

My bosom, and my spirit leaps and sings:

Sounds and sights are there of the ancient hills,

The eagle's cry, the mountain when it flings

Mists from its brow, but none of all these things

Like the one voice of multitudinous rills.





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