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Aided Conroi maic Dairi (Irish saga)
Joyce, Robert Dwyer
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Tales ( lcsh )
Legends ( lcsh )

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University of South Florida Library
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ARGUMENT. B LANID (THE BLOSSOM-BRIGHT), daughter of the King of the Isle of Man, is sought in marriage by the princes of Western Europe. She refuses them all. At length she falls in love with Cuhullin, the son of her father's most powerful enemy. The princes form a league to win her, and gathering their fleets, sail to Dun Dalgan, where they elect Cuhullin leader of the expedition. They besiege and sack the stronghold of Mana. At the dis tribution of the spoils, Blanid, by a stratagem, is won and taken away by Curoi, prince of South Munster. Cuhullin pursues Curoi, and overtakes him at the foot of the Mountains of Blama, where they fight for the possession of Blanid. Cuhullin is vanquished, and Curoi bears Blanid away in triumph to the south. After some time the lovers meet again, and with the help of Blanid's


8 ARGUMENT. foster-mother make a plot for the slaying of Curoi, which is done on the night of the Feast of Samhain, and Blanid is borne away to Eman by Cuhullin. Curoi's minstrel .follows them, and at the hunting feast of Rincan-Beara dashes down his harp, seizes Blanid, and throws himself with her over the verge of great rock into the sea beneath, where they are lost for ever.


Q THOU, to come, though yet perchance unborn, .Llfy country's Poet, prince ef bards, sublime 1 Wongst those who in the Future's gleaming morn Will make great music, in thy manhood's prime And day ef fame remember me, and climb .Llfy Hill ef Rest, and take thy musing way Unto the place ef tombs, and with sweet rhyme Stand thou beside my headstone lone and gray, And strike thy sounding harp and sing no little lay! For I am ef the race ef those longsyne The makers ef heroic minstrelsy, Though eft in youth, caught tn his silken twine, I sang ef Love, to lay and melody Made by the ancient bards ef high degree, Or rustic singers ef the lowly cot, And many a thorny path I've cleared for thee, And sowed some seeds in many a hidden spot That bloom a little now where .flowers ef song were not I


IO PROEilf. Though many a field I've searched ef foreign lore And found great themes for song, yet ne'er would I Seek Greece, or Araby, or Persia's shore For heroes and the deeds of days gone by; To my own native land my heart wouldjly, Howe' er my fancy wandered, and I gave thoughts to her and to the heroes high She nursed in ages gone, and strov e to save Some memory of their deeds from dark wave! And not for gold I sang, nor foolish greed With easy steps to reach Fame's hallowedground; For love ef S ong I piped my sylvan reed, And s ometimes too essayed a bolder sound To wake men's souls to nobleness, and found Each effort to my heart new guerdons bring, And though few laurels wreathe my temples round, My task is wrought in stirring even the string Of the bright harp that yet beneath thy touch shall ring!


PROEM. In this some bloom ef Fancy may' st thou .find: He;oes and heroines from the dusky haze II Of Eld I've called, and limned them, heart and mind, As best I could, in all their thoughts and ways Of love and war_; and if it win thy praise And thy approving smile, I ask no more Than this, to add one green leaf to the bays In learning and in song my country wore When all the world was dark, save her, in days o.f yore!


BLAN ID. THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. J N Mana of the Sea there reigned a king Far famed for valor and for treasures rare Of gems and gold and many a precious thing Bright as the frosty midnight air ; One daughter dear he had, within the ring Of the round world the fairest of the fair, And through the lands the loud-tongued wind of fame Blew far and near the bloom-bright Blanid's name.


14 BLANID. As in some regal garden a young rose Buds into bloom 'neath fostering sun and wind, And each successive day new beauty shows Of leaf or stem beyond its lovely kind, Till in the summer' s midst it smiles and glows Fairest of all with pearly dews refined, So grew that lady peerless, pure and good, To the first morn of perfect womanhood. And many a lay the wandering minstrels made To the bright beauty of that Flower of flowers, From Eman's h a ll and Tara's laurel shade To Gwydilod and high Tintagel's bowers;From Gallia's shores by ocean broad embayed, To the bleak isles where misty Coolin towers, Her praises spread from eager land to land, By the strong wind of fame for ever fanned.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 15 And men of high renown, the bold and brave, Who ne'er before felt love illume their breasts, Strove for the right with splintering lance and glaive To wear her joyful colors on their crests; Poet and mighty prince and lord and slave Spoke of her, great kings sought her hand, and quests By knights forlorn for her were underta'en To take her from her sire, but all in vain. And though a quest of danger and of dread, Thick thronged the knights on it, as summer bees Swarm round a hive in thousands; many a head Grinned ghastly o'er her father's gate of these Misguided champions valorous, fancy-led, Who to Green Mana came across the seas, Feeding their hearts with vain hopes all the while To win that far-famed maid by force or guile!


16 BLANID. Yet on those days when in his kingly hall Her father held high court, and strangers came From the earth's farthest ridge remote, and all Sunned themselves in the smiles of that fair dame, On prince and knight and squire, on great and small, Her glorious eyes beamed unimpassioned flame, As though her maiden heart could ne'er respond To the soft touch of love's enchanted wand. For, as the crystal well whose bosom sheen Sparkled within her garden of delight, And mirrored all the flowers and leaves of green And sun by day and moon and stars by night, But kept no image there, her heart serene Took all impressions, sorrowful or bright, With care unclouded and with love unwarm, And treasured in its depths no hallowed form


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 17 But every heart hath its appointed hour To wake to love's immortal joy or pain, To feel through every nerve the tyrant's power, And weep or laugh with gladness 'neath his reign. It chanced upon a day to Blanid's bower Uprode her sire with all his sylvan train, Artd called her forth, with hounds and huntsmen bold To chase the wild deer in the summer wold. Fair as the moon and her attendant throng Of glittering stars in heaven's blue firmament, To sounds of huntsman's horn and minstrel's song With her fair maids around her forth she went: Then spread the many-voiced chase along The dales, the woods, the wind-waved mountain bent, Like a gay streamer of the northern sky, Sparkling and shifting till the noon drew nigh.


18 BLANID. Then reined she up her steed where rose the tune Of merry birds half mad with summerglee, In a lone hollow that with answering croon Of murmuring leaves and winds sang joyously: B e low her in the lake the sky of noon Was mirrored, and beside her many a tree Gleamed bright with fragrant blooms, and singing rills Shot dawn in music from the shadowy hills. Behind her,' grim to heaven a moorland faced, Home of great boars, and huge primeval kine Whose savage bulls' loud bellowing shook the waste At blink of early morn or day's decline: Up from its midst, with wizard woods embraced Of giant oak and strong sky-towering pine, A dark hill with a bleached and barren skull Towered o'er that region weird and wonderful.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. Now, from beneath that hill, upon the breeze Sudden the clamor rose of hounds and horn, Then came a bellowing sound that shook the trees, As shakes a summer gust the shivering corn. Trembling young Blanid looks; anon she sees, With earth-consuming strength of fury born, A mighty bull come thundering through the brakes, Showering the moss behind in skyward flakes Onward he came with speed like the wild wrack Of clouds pursued by tempests in their ire, White foam-flakes on his brindled sides and back, Flames darting from his burning eyeballs dire, Two fierce hounds and a bold knight on his track, A knight whose javelin flashed like azure fire, Whose harness gleamed, wh ose horse outstripped the blast In Barna's wood, spurring behind him fast!


20 BLANID. Trembling bright Blanid sat, without essay From that fell spot of peril forth to go, As one who from the vale, when suns of May Put forth their strength on Pyrenean snow, Sees o'er him th' avalanche its power display, And, dazed with danger, waits for death be low, Unknowing what to do, so sat the maid On her gay palfrey in that glade! On came the wrathful bull with tenfold wrath At sight of her rich robe of many dyes, Fast spurred the noble knight beside his path, With well-poised form and valor-sparkling eyes; In his right hand the javelin as a lath Quivers, then like a lightning flash it flies Forward shrill hissing, riving its red way Deep through the great heart of its giant prey!


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 21 As when an earthquake shakes the solid ground From caverns deep where fires infernal burn, From its high station on some lofty mound A huge rock falls and shakes the earth in turn, The forest trembles to its utmost bound, Back the lake's gorge the waters choke and churn,So fell that mighty bull beside the shore With deafening shock and loud rebellowed roar. And as some lovely flower that all day long Laughing in air and the hours did pass, Torn from its bed the green mound's blooms among, Now helpless withers by the. fallen mass, So Blanid, from her frightened palfrey flung Lies still upon the blossom-jewelled grass, No little page anigh, or tearful rpaid, With pitying hands to raise her lovely head.


22 BLAN ID. But he was there, that hunter Cuhullin, Eman's nobiest Red Branch Knight; He raised her gently up, and in the lull Of her short swoon kissed face and forehead bright, Kissed golden hair and eyes no longer dull, For love's first touch brought back their sweetest light, And half-shed tears and smiles, and blushes too Unto her cheeks like the red rose's hue. He looked 0n her and found her radiant face Beautiful beyond all his heart could dream, She looked on him with sweet and modest grace, And blushed and looked once more. The love supreme That years of joy nor misery, time nor place, Could change, awoke with its immortal gleam, And stirred each young heart to its inmost nook, And lightened in each eye and smile and look.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 23 Of danger or of time they take no heed Till round the lake sweet echoes roll and run, And up the forest path at topmost speed Come the gay courtiers spurring one by one : Fondly he kissed her, light sprang on his steed And through the wildwood vanished ; wind and sun Played as he went upon his face and hair, Making strange gleams of wondrous glory there. Then sat she brooding for a little time Amidst the grass and fragrant blossoms gay Of the sweet place : the merry wild-birds' chime She heard not, heeded not the flowers' display Of beauty all around : then did she climb Into her golden selle, and rode away Silent and very glad, till with surprise Her maid saw love's first brightness m her eyes.


24 BLANID. And he :-across the stream and through the wood With lightsome heart he went, and 'neath the shade Sped downward hopefully, till where the flood, Enlarged by many streamlets, tumbling made Down a steep precipice in merry mood Its path of silver foam, his course he stayed Nigh the cliff's foot, beneath an oak whose head O'er flowers innumerous and sweet grasses spread. For in the midst of a small mead it grew, Where the bright Goddess, Aine, Queen of Flowers, Delighted with its pleasures, thither drew Sweet winds, warm beams and soft, life-giving showers:-There all the lovely blooms that ever knew The airs of springtide or the summer hours Showed themselves to the butterflies and bees, And glad birds singing o'er them in the trees.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. .25 Around the fragrant place high cliffs arose Save where the path led downward by the fall Of the sweet murmuring stream, and where in throes Of elfin laughter o'er a mossy wall Of rock it left the mead to its repose, Far wandering seaward through the forest tall, Where ringdoves cooed to it and larks sang o'er, And many a bank of foxglove decked its shore. Here while his horse grazed on the grassy bank, And while his hounds slept by him, he lay down On the fresh-smelling sward and sweetly drank The wine of thought, until the far-off crown Of the old hill grew dim : then soft he sank Into deep sleep, and love and its renown Forsook him not even then, for in his dreams He walked alone anigh two singing streams.


BLANID. And on the level sward that lay between These warbling waters clear, bright garlanded With many-scented blooms, the gentle Queen Of Flowers and Summer, Aine, towards him led Her handmaids in their flowing kirtles green, A coronal of lilies on each head : And as she drew anigh with heavenly grace, Fair Blanid's form she wore and Blanid s face! Unto a bank where many violets grew She came and stood, while one beside her played Upon a golden lute, and ever drew Sweet strains from it, and sang, Afraid afraid Of love am I to yearn as lovers do, To laugh and weep by turns, to stand dismayed At every cloud, to sigh for naught, to P rove All joy and bitterness, and yet I love!"


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 27 And as she sang they moved, and back again O'er the fresh blossoms passed, yet to his ear, As they moved farther on, the handmaid's strain Floated along the meadow, and more clear, More piercing still with passion's bliss and pain It grew and grew, until a thrill of fear Shot through him at the marvel, and he woke Nigh -the dark shadow of the ancient oak. His horse was grazing near, his hounds at rest, Yet scarce a spear-length from hirp, on the ground, Sat a bright man in minstrel's colors drest, Playing upon a harp whose lovely sound Filled all the place:-:upon his stalwart breast A black beard flowed, and ivy leaves enwound His broad brows, while, beneath, two dark eyes shone And a fair face unbrowned by wind and sun.


28 BLAN ID. Upstood the knight, but not with hand on hilt, For still the minstrel stirred not, and he said," 0 rich-robed stranger, tell me what thou wilt Of thine own mortal origin, but bred With gods thou wert, or in some palace built By the Sid People, for methinks I tread In heaven while thou art playing! Who art thou, Man of the pleasant face and wreathed brow?" U pstood the minstrel glittering in the moon That had risen and quenched the star which sees Each day's red flame expire, "A boon! a boon I ask of thee, 0 Knight The melodies That my harp uttered will delight thee soon If thou wilt follow me: beyond those trees A cave there is where we can shelter find From the damp night dews and the chilly wind.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. Then call thy horse and hounds and follow me: Men name me Ferkertne, the lord of song, And Curoi's bard, from where Tonn Cleena's sea Buffets flat Beramain with billow strong. Then come! I've spread the warm cave's floor for thee With moss and blooming heather, and the throng Of fancies fresh now flitting through my brain I'll sing to thee to-night, if thou art fain!" At the cave's mouth they sat where clear as day 'Tween two high pines the silvery moonlight fell, And with blithe music passed the hours away, And converse, and Ferkertne 'gan to tell How he had sailed across the salt sea spray To .look on Bfanid's face, and in the well Of Poesy to bathe his soul, and sing Songs of her beauty to his lord and king.


30 BLANID. "But now," he said, "the moon soars o'er the pine That crowns the eastern crag, and we will press Our heathe0ry couch and let the Night divine Cover us with her sweet forgetfulness. To-morrow morn the Beltane sun will shine And we will seek strong Mana's hold and bless Our souls with sight of her fair face, and see Their Feast of Flowers all their pageantry." The morn rose fair and strong Cuhullin woke, Placed food for horse and hounds, and in the cave Left them, and with the minstrel from the Oak And Mead departed upward by the wave Of the wild stream, and soon the woodland folk On paths they met trolling a merry stave As they went on, and, further, on .the plains Stout husbandmen in flower-bedizened wains.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 31 And further still, on the broad royal way The crowds as, when the rains pour down From far Sleemis to Crotta's mountains gray, Allo and Dallo, and the waters brown Of Clyda, and strong Mulla white with spray, And Funcheon tumbling fast by rock and town, Swell the Blackwater's tide, so from each glen, Hamlet and hold crowds of laughing men. Women and children on the royal road That Beltane morn, yet, nathless some were there Who groaned in secret 'neath pale sorrow's load, Remorse's sting, or cloud of black despair; For life's fair holidays, howe'er bestowed, Soften not grief for all, nor brighten care ; Yet on they went, life's pearls, life's heavy clods, The hearts that blessed and those that cursed the Gods!


32 BLAN ID. Anigh strong Mana's hold, in raiment new Of summer bloom a hollow vale spread out Its meadowy bosom to the sun and dew, Encircled by a sacred wood where, stout 'Gainst time and change, the towering pine-trees grew, And strong oaks bade defiance to the shout Of wintry storms, and ash and beeches green Shadowed the copse where wild things played unseen. And on the midmost sward, like giant thrones, Reared by primordial hands, austere and grim, Spread the great circle of Druidic stones, High precinct of the Gods, wherefrom the hymn Of the king's priests uprolled in varied tones That now made bright by turns, and now made dim, The eyes of the vast concourse all around The sacred wood-skirts and the sloping ground.


THE FLOWER FEAST -IN MANA. 33 A space beyond the circle's open gate, Arched o'er the flower-strewn way stood two oak-trees, Whose trunks, tall pillars, well had borne the weight Of all their leafy wealth long centuries: Now each towered smiling grandly on his mate, Bedecked with many garlands, while the breeze Shook their broad with a voiceful quiver, Like the light murmuring of some gladsome river. Beyond the oaks, a good spear-cast across, Lay piled a circle of dry wood and fern And withered larch-boughs and thyme,spiced moss And sea-grass from the home of swan and tern, And aromatic pine and last year's floss Of the white marsh flax, and all flowers that learn Of God to scent earth's woods, from th' inward pyre Waiting the high priest and the sacred fire c


34 BLANID. And nigh the roadway, on a dais raised High o'er the perfumed meadow, the King upon a golden seat, and all amazed With love and wonder, 'mid a blooming ring Of bright-clad maidens in a robe that blazed With gems, Cuhullin saw fair Blanid fling More garlands toward the oak-trees, singing sweet To the light cadence of the moving feet. And more amazed he saw the minstrel go To the young maids, and with his harp-strings bare Wake magic sounds thereon, until more slow The dancing feet moved, and their joyous air He matched with kindred music: soft and low It warbled first, till wit}} the dancers fair He moved toward the green trees, then loud it rang With his sweet voice and theirs, and thus he sang:-


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. Come hither with song and with glances bright : Sing to the Glory who walks his way. For ever unchanged o'er the arching height; The Helper, the Maker of man's delight, The Father of Morning, whose piercing ray IJlumes the shores where the da{kness lay Sing to the Softener of grief, the Sower, The Ripener, the Reaper, the Lord of day, The Slayer of death and the Life-bestower "When' Light withdrew from the Darkness old, And the fresh blue heavens and the crystal sea Laughed in the primal Morning's gold, Earth's rocky wastes lay stark and cold Without voice of zephyr or streamlet's glee Then the golden Sun smote the barren lea 35 And the shores and the hills a1;d the plains and passes, And the birthday was of the shrub and tree, Of the painted flowers and the fragrant grasses.


BLAN ID. "The clouds arose from the ocean's breast And fell on the deserts in silver showers, The streams awoke in their sweet unrest, And the new-born winds at the sun's behest Sang in the leaves of the springing bowers, Till the waste, transformed, was a world of flowers, Where the glory of light from the dews would glisten, And they whispered sweet in the windy hours With no to see them, no ears to listen. Then the Maker of Gods, who ruled the span Of the starry kingdoms, the sun, the earth, To the uttermost spaces ere time began, Of the red clay wrought him the primal Man, Of the bright flowers fashioned the woman's birth; For the joy of their bodies and hours of mirth He gave them the grape ana the wine to follow, Thegame of the forest, the fish of the firth, And the corn and the fruit of the plain and hollow.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 37 But best for them and their soul's delight, The flower-web of glory round earth he spun, The purple of Heather, the Mead-blooms bright, The May and the delicate Woodbine's white, The Daisy fresh, and the darling One, The Hyacinth young; and a splendor shone From their bloom in meadow and wood-glade stilly, And the garden glowed in the golden Sun With the Pink and the Rose and the saffron Lily. "Come hither, come hither, with garlands meet For Youth's bright brow and for Age's head, Of the fairest flowers that the mornings greet With perfumed breath and with kisses sweet In glen and meadow and garden bed ; For Summer is come and the Winter 's sped From moor and mountain, from field and forest, And the birds in the greenwood woo and wed, And the blossoms laugh where the frosts lay hoarest


BLANID. "Cf)me hither, come hither, our song to weave Of joy where the old Oaks branching rise Under their shadows let no heart grieve, Let love meet love and its truth believe, And laugh meet laughter -while sunny skies Brighten the sward and the sweet hour flies, From fell and forest, by spring and river, From brake and bank where the dewdrop lies, Gather the garlands and pr:i.ise the Giver Now when the song was ended and the dance, And gracefully again the maids drew nigh Where the high dais stood, Cuhullin's glance Fell on the King and marked the old man's eye Bent on him with a furtive look askance, Bitter, that seemed to say, "In days gone by Thy father's blood coursed through a foeman's heart, If I can rightly .guess whose son thou art!"


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 39 But now in th' inner circle a light smoke Curled upward o'er the pyre, as though it came From 'tween the high priest's hands, and as he spoke With face upturned to heaven the Sun God's name, Moving his outspread palms the while, there broke From the sweet perfumed wood a golden flame Whereat a torch he lit, and, turning, made His slow way outward to the oak-trees' shade. Thence with straight-gazing eyes he passed the King, And at the East side with loud voice of song Touched the obedient wood of th' outward ring, And by the South and West he went along Unto the Northern boundary; with a spring Up to the heavens the flame flew fresh and strong Where'er he touched, then turned he, while a cry Of gladness from the concourse filled the sky.


40 BLAN!D. And as he sought again the sacred place, Swift runners rushed with ready torch in hand, Caught the fresh flame, and with light feet, whose trace The young grass felt not, cut the breeze that fanned Each torch, as swept they in their headlong race East, West, North, South, until throughout the land, From sea to seaboard, each extinguished hearth Laughed in the gladness of the new fire's birth. Now in the gay confusion and the swaying Of the crowd to and fro, the minstrel stood By the tall Kni g ht. 0 comrade, thou art playing A game," he said, "will spill thy valiant blood! Then get thee hence! No more, no more. delaying! I've seen the King's brow bent in treach'rous mood, I ve heard him speak! 0 heed the minstrel's fears! Look yonder, and behold that hedge of spears


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 41 He started not: he bent his kindly eye UJ?on the bright-robed minstrel, as he spoke: "Fear not for me, 0 friend! What looks awry Will soon seem straight; and may Crom's light ning-stroke Fall on my head when with base soul I fly The frown of danger, for the golden yoke Of love is linked around me, and I fear Nor doom, nor death, while my beloved is near! My father loved her mother and made war On Mana's king, whence mortal hatred sprung, And I was born beneath the selfsame star, And I must love the daughter, and they've sung, High bard and minstrel, that 't is better far To love and do great deeds when one is young: And whatsoever weird is on me set I '11 bear it for her sake without regret!"


42 BLAND. "Look to thy neck then, and beware the axe," The minstrel said, for the high King hath spoken Thy doom ere this, and Vengeance never lacks Her bitter food, in breasts of kings awoken; With eager wings she flies upon thy tracks Pursuing thee, and I believe no token safety, but to see thee sit thy steed Under the oak-tree in yon forest mead." Then answered strong Cuhullin, I am he To whom fate gave two choices, and who said, 'Better to live a short life gloriously And as a hero die, than, living-dead, An old man with bent frame and tottering knee, Tumble into the grave!' While hope is fed By her kind looks, I stir not Live or die, Here B1anid's bright eyes gleam, and here am I!"


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 43 Then Blanid's bower-maid Mora, touched his arm With a red rose, "My lady sends thee this, Fair knight," she said, "and bids thee flee the harm That threats thy life and ending of her bliss And she was gone like some bright fairy charm One meets in desert places but to miss, Gone in the crowd that now thronged nigh the King To see the people pass the fiery ring. First came a young betrothed pair, their heads All garlanded with flower-buds, side by side, Li ght-footed, glad, across the clover beds Of the fresh mead, more following, till a tide Of human life and joy drew near the shreds And ash left in a smouldering circle wide By the swift flame, where each pair of the band Leaped o'er the smoking barrier hand in hand;-


44 BLANID. Leaped in and kissed each other, then sprang out, And onward danced beneath the ancient trees, Scattering to right and left with song and shout Over the grass, all ages, all degrees, Passed by the King's seat in that merry rout, Singing sweet songs and love-woven melodies Of birth and bloom of flowers and earth's first prime And all the gladness of their summer clime. Then came the firstlings of each herd and flock, The snow-white lamb, the silken calf, the foal With wondering eyes, the gray kid from the rock, And 'cross the smoking ring and round the bole Of each tall tree were driven with gentle shock Of down-poured primroses from ferny knoll Or sunny bank, and stroke of blossomed spray Of broom and lilac and sweet-smelling may.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA, 45 Then for good fortune rode the young knights by, All life and laughter pacing o'er the ring, Till with drooped plumes and lance-points raised on high, Half-hid in sacred smoke, they passed the King, A crowd of spears thick as the bearded rye Upon the wind-blown hill-side following, And, led by a tall squire, adown the mead Barana, the King's angry battle steed ; -Angry and swift and strong, for ne'er before Had rein or tightened girth upon him pressed; With brass-shod hoofs the blossomed sward he tore As he pranced down the field in housings dressed Of silk and gold ; fierce was the look he wore, With shining haunch, and broad-extended breast, And steel-gray coat, and mane of lighter gray Tossed o'er his proud neck like a torrent's spray.


BLANID. Now from beside the royal chair a knight Came smiling forth to pace the charger through, Sprang on his back, a moment curbed his might With deft hand, and a doubtful struggle grew 'Tween both, and raged, till, like an arrow's flight, Up in the air the gallant rider flew And soon lay on the greensward, and was borne Out from the throng with shame-faced looks forlorn. A second won the fortune of the first. Then cautiously a third young knight began To stroke the steed, and well nerved for the worst Sprang up, and then came down his full-length span Upon the sward again like one accurst. Then cried the wily King, "Perchance yon man A head and shoulders towering o'er the crowd May mount my steed and try his mettle proud


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 47. Cuhullin looked. Behind the royal chair Stood Blanid with a red rose in her hand Upraised, as though it said, "Beware Beware The coil is round thee! Fly, ere yet the brand Touch thy beloved neck!" But naught soe'er Of danger now could curb him, and he scanned The war steed with admiring gaze, then stood With eyes cast down awhile in musing mood. Then drew he near to strong Barana's side, And .at a bound bestrode him, seized the rein And plunged him o'er the sward in circles wide, Handling him with such care as on the main The mariner bestows 'gainst wind and tide Upon his bark that at the tiller's strain Obedient turns though rough the course, so led, Along the echoing field Barana sped.


BLANID. Now through the circle like a flash he went, And onward 'neath the arching trees, and here, As he drave rushing on, Cuhullin leant beside his mane and snatched a spear From a rough soldier's hand, and frowning sent A shout against the ranks that, marshalled near, Stood ready to fall on him, and who now Quailed at the darkness on the hero's brow, -And scattered to each side as doth the pack Of hungry wolves by lone Morgallion's wave, That follows swift upon the wild boar's track, To find him thundering from his hollow cave Upon them with bright tusks and bristled back Through brush and reed, so at the shout he gave They scattered right and left, as threatening still He turned Barana towards the barren hill.


THE FLOWER FEAST IN MANA. 49 Away with cries and clattering hoofs behind, Across the stream and through the sacred grove, While rose the fierce shout upon the wind Angry, as when in wild Tormana's cove The beast howls for the prey he cannot find: Yet howsoe'er his strong pursuers strove At the King's voice, Barana's hoofs of speed Soon left them far behind both man and steed. That eve at set of sun Cuhullin gained The Waterfall, the lovely Mead and Tree, And by the cavern's mouth the charger reined, Alit, and bowed his head and bent his knee Unto the Gods with thankfulness unfeigned, And with good hope of happy augury Barana took, and in the cavern rude Before him and his own steed spread the food. 3 D


50 BLANID. A moment stood he still, and with delight Beheld the two great steeds their haunches press Together, and like ancient comrades bite The fragrant heap and share the selfsame tress Of scented clover-blossoms, and affright The same flies with their tails in friendliness ; Then laughed he as he said, This augury Beginneth well for my beloved and me!"


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 51 THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. up from the sapphire depths of space profound Arose the laughing dawn, and all skies Brightened until, beneath, the flowery ground Laughed in return, and the awakening flies Outspread their jewelled wings with gladsome sound To welcome her, while calls and joyous cries Of wild things from the bosky dells and lays Of birds in field and forest sang her praise.


52 BLAN ID. And at her touch Cuhullin woke, though deep He slept, forgetting all his joys and woes, And in glad wonder saw the minstrel reap The meed of toil in dreamless, calm repose Beside him on the fragrant heather heap, His hand upon the harp-frame, while a rose Red as young Blanid's lips within it lay, Sole trophy of the merry yesterday. He laughed unto himself with secret joy To see his loved one's symbol lying there, And stole from out the cave, and, to employ The heavenly hour, across the meadow fair Walked down to where the wild-birds, nothing coy At the tall stranger's presence, filled the air With tremulous music and the tumbling flood Answered from green recesses of the wood.


THE DESPAIR OF Cu'HULLIN. 53 Beside the stream he sat and mused awhile Till the first sunbeam found the blossomed glade Through the green leaves, and many a lover's wile He formed to meet again the royal maid, To clasp her hand, to bask him in her smile, Till, with a look of gladness that betrayed His heart's resolve, he turned him o'er the dew Of the fresh mead and sought the cave anew. At this same hour young Mora to the side Of Blanid's couch came: "Up!" she said; "the day, 0 mistress laughs upon the waters wide And lights the whispering woods Up and away Into our garden where the humming tide From the cool fountain falls in diamond spray Adown the mossy rocks,

54 BLAN ID. "And I will bring the lute that thou hast taught My fingers to make mournful or unsad, As each fresh mood within thy dear heart wrought Its influence ; and the merry hours we had Last morn within the garden will seem naught This day to thee, for now thy heart is glad With yon tall hero's love, they say thy mind Will run on thoughts e'en still more glad and kind!" Like a young rose touched by the gold of morn, Blanid awoke, and, looking, laughed and said, "Small wonder since the day that thou wert born Thou 'rt called the Chatterer Seems as thou wert bred With daws and jays, all merry things that scorn A silent hour; but hither thy bright head Of nut-brown hair, that I may kiss thine eyes And lips, and pay thee for thy morn's surprise!"


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 55 'Mid fern and foxglove by the woodland rill The quick-eyed ousel prinks herself in pride On the cool bank, when the voice sweet and shrill Of her mate calls her, with dark head aside She looks this way and that, then runs until She joins him in the sunshine, so with glide Of body and light foot across the room Young Mora sought her lady's arm s of bloom. And then, as Blanid kissed her, playfully She broke from out the circling arms and cried, Clapping her hands, "Ah not for me, for me That last kiss was for yester morningtide, When thou didst kiss me 'neath the blossomed tree Beside the well, thou strovest not to hide Thy blushes from me! Ah! I wis, I wis The robber of Barana owns that kiss


' BLAN ID. Deeper the Bright One's blush, though well she strove To hide it, as the Chatterer cried again, Oh would that I were old enough to love And know what love is anq be loved by men I tell thee I would make my champion prove His mettle among heroes ; in the fen Of Gurmal the Gray Serpent he should slay With sword and spear before the bridal day! "For I was taught by poets sweet and wise Within my brother's hall what knights should be, And mine should have a soul of high emprise, And with brass keels should plough the stubborn sea To foreign lands, where untold treasure lies In dragon's dens, and he should bring to me The dragon's claws as tokens, and full measure Unto my house of all the priceless treasure!


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 57 "And he should have three hounds with golden chains And bells all tinkling like the gay harp's thrills, A war-steed from the far-off emerald plains Of Murnan, and a hawk from Norway's hills;The three sweet Berries of the Yew with stains Of crimson on them, from Dunthirre's rills, He'd bring to me, with the bright Marigold Three-headed from Birar

BLANID. "And yet I love thee, child; and well I may, Since thy strong sire, great lord of Beramere, Gave his life for my father's in that fray Waged with Tintagel's heroes, ere a year Had crowned thy winsome head with ringlets gay ; And now thou knowest my heart, oh! still more. dear I love thee, thou sweet pearl! Then come, and bring Thy lute with thee, that thou mayest play and sing." Then forth they went, and through a wicket small Of brazen tracery sought the garden fair, Where through the luminous, whispering leaves did fall Shafts of white sunlight upon blossoms rare From every clime ; and nigh the further wall They sat them down upon a fresh bank, where The placid fount, the garden's azure eye, Returned the love-lit glances of the sky.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 59 And Blanid said, Sweet blossom of the May, Sing me a song to cheer me." Eager then Brown Mora answered, Shall I sing the Lay Of Garmon, or the Lady and the Wren, Or Starry Fingers, or the Twilight Fay, Or that old mournful song beloved of men And maids, The Knight forlorn slept in the Wood, The Gold Branch, or White Mergal by the Flood, Or Mora and the Moon, that Tiernan sings, Our minstrel, or The blooming Almond Tree, The Mermaid and the Man, or Silver Wings Sing," said fair Blanid laughing, Sing to me The song that Tiernan made for thee, -that brings Gladness whene' er 'tis sung! 0 mistress see," Cried Mora, "yon two doves upon their bough For them he made this song I _:5ing thee now."


6o BLANID. "THE DOVES. "My little blue doves were born, Were born in the windy March, Up in the tapering larch That laughs in the light of mom : 0, so high o'er the meadow! 0, so high o'er the glen! And they sit in the leafy shadow, The joy and delight of men, Cooing, with voices flowing In melody soft and sweet, Their necks with the rainbow glowing, And the pink on their silver feet. "My little doves lived together, Unweeting of woe and pain, Through the days of the winds and rain And the sunny and fragrant weather ;


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 61 And the lark sang o'er them in heaven, And the linnet from banks of flowers, And the robin chanted at even, And the thrush in the morning hours Carolled to cheer their wooing, And the blackbird merry and bold Answered their cooing, cooing Out from the windy wold. When the daisy its eye uncloses, And the cowslip glistens with dew, And the hyacinth pure and blue And the lilies and pearl-bright roses Prink themselves in the splendor Of the delicate white-foot Dawn, 'Mid the flowers and the fragrance tender My little dove's heart was thawn With love by the cooing, cooing Of the gentle mate at her side, And they married in midst of their wooing, My bridegroom and woodland bride!"


62 BLAN ID. Now take the lute thyself, 0 mistress sweet, And sing to me of love, and let me know What love is, for 'tis surely most unmeet That I should sit in hall and see a glow In young squires' eyes my morning presence greet, Not knowing why. Sing! that I may bestow Four kisses on thee, two from me, and tw

THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 63 "WHAT IS THIS LOVE? "What is this love, this love that makes My heart's warm pulses quiver? They say it is the power that wakes The hyacinth 'mid hazel brakes, The lilies by the river, And that same thing that bids the dove Sit in the pine-tree high above, Its sweetheart wooing ; But oh alas whate'er it be, And howsoe'er it comes to me, It comes for my undoing "The lily of the river side By its sweet mate reposes Through autumn moons and winter-tide, To wake in love and beauty's pride When comes the time of roses,


BLAN ID. And in the springing of the year The doves' sweet "..oices you will hear Their vows renewing ; But oh alas whate'er love be, And howsoe'er it comes to me, It comes for my undoing! "0 child! I fear this love, for always pain It mingles with its joy, I fear, I fear I know not what while in my heart doth reign This tyrant. But the air is sultry here, Arid I would see the foxglove's )>urple stain And heather, and would smell the blossomed brere, And love to pluck the forest flowers, and yearn To trail my robe amidst the fragrant fern!" And forth they went, and left the garden bright Through a small postern, and 'twas joy to see Their young hearts tasting of the dear delight Of freedom in fresh woods ; each branching tree


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 65 To them towered upward to a glorious height; The zephyrs sang, the rill, the bird, the bee, Sang in return, till all the flowery ground Seemed pulsing to the sweet pervading sound. At length they heard the murmur of the river Wherein the forest streamlets plunge and drown Their merriment, and 'mid the stir and quiver Of grasses and green leaves they sat them down Upon a bank where thyme, the perfume-giver To flocks and herds on hills and moorlands browri, Grew thick with bronzed moss, heath, and lacly's dower, Wild hyacinth and every woodland flower. And as they sat, their quickened senses steeping In the new life and glory of the wood, Young Mora through the blossomed thicket peeping Saw a tall man anigh them, where the flood E


66 BLANID. Adown its pebbly bed went gaily leaping; A minstrel's cloak he wore, a minstrel's hood Of seven fresh colors bright, and in his hand He held a glittering harp that lit the strand. Upon a stone he sat, and silently Gazed on the crystal tide, while near him played The river-birds unfrightened. "Hush! 'tis he!" Glad Mora cried, "the minstrel, all arrayed For music as on yesterday! What glee! To hear the fairy music that he made! But hush! he stirs ;-let's take what fortune brings! He wakes the sounding wires He sings, he sings!" SONG. 0 Wind of the west that bringest, O'er wood and lea, Perfume of flowers from my bowers And a strain and a melqdy, -


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 67 While soft 'mid the bloom thou singest Thy songs of laughter and sighs, Steal in where my darling lies With a kiss to her mouth from me ;, White Rose, when at morn thou twinest Her lattice fair, Wave to and fro in the fresh sun's glow Till she wakes and beholds thee there ; When over her brow thou shinest, Then whisper from me, and press On her dear head one fond caress, And a kiss on her yellow hair 0 Rose and 0 Wind that found her 'Mid morning's glee While the noon goes by, keep ever nigh With your beauty and melody; With your smile and your song stay round her Till she closes her eyelids bright; Then give her a sweet Good-night And a kiss on the lips from me


68 BLAN ID. The first note Blanicl heard, her face grew wan, Half-rose she, trembling, with dilated eyes, Sat down again, and some sweet flowers that shone Beside her she plucked up, and like a prize Beloved kissed them as the strain went on, And laughed a little, till, like morning skies Reddening with dainty rose, the blush that speaks Of health and joy returned to her fair cheeks. Then laughed she unto Mora, He is here! No minstrel he, but my strong lover true! Though Death with his pale hand should close ear, His. voice would pierce my fond heart and renew Its throbbings, lying cold upon the bier, The grave-clothes round me! Bring him here and strew Some flowers upon this sunny bank to bless Our wondrous meeting and our happiness


THE DESPAIR OF Cl7Hl7LLIN. 6<) And Mora plucked the bright fresh-smelling flowers And strewed them on the. bank, then out she ran With loose hair through the intervening bowers And down the slope, and, ere the bright-robed man Knew where he sat, rained kisses sweet in showers On both his cheeks, and Come," she said, "the ban Of her great sire is on thee; but let me In all these things thy kind protector be." She took his hand in hers, and like a child He followed her with joyful throbbing heart Up the green slope, till through the copses wild He reached the place, and saw new blushes start Unto his loved one's fair cheek as she smiled Like a full moon on him. With lips apart And. upraised hands she stood before him; fain To clasp him to her happy breast again


70 BLANID. Then hand touched hand, and face met burning fate, And sweet words passed, as sweet words will forever 'Tween hearts that love, and 'mid that bloomy place -They sat them down, and in the wide world never Sat such a pair; their looks, their smiles, gave grace And beauty the spot no thought could sever From all things round, all things that laugh and live In sunshine and the gladness sunbeams give 1 Said Blanid, "Since the hour I saw thee first Tbou 'rt in my heart!" Said he, "Since that glad hour, My heart has yearned with love's insatiate thirst, Burning for thee, and some immortal power Impels me to thee through the best and worst Of this my life!" Said she, "Black clouds may lower Upon our love, but my love will remain Unchanged through all, -through all life's joy and pain!"


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 71 He pressed his lips to hers and to his breast Her throbbing breast, and said, -"Through all I see Of peril and of sorrow and unrest, My love shall grow like yonder vigorous tree That rears unto the sky its blossomed cres t, Gladdening the forest ; so my love shall be, Till, as a blast strikes low the proud tree's head, Fate comes and counts me with the early dead "For know, beloved one, my weird and doom When I was sixteen summers, Caffa old, The King's seer, prophesied, and pierced the gloom Of the veil 'tween us and the Gods, and told That he who on the morrow would assume Knighthood should be the pink and pearl and gold Of chivalry, and that his fame should die Only when earth died and the eternal sky.


72 BLAN ID. With wrapt eyes still he prophesied, and said, 'His fame shall be a tree whose branches wide Shall overspread the world, but he is wed Unto a weird, that in the strength and pride Of early manhood he shall fill the bed Of death who takes the ? And I replied, 'I take it!' and a knight was made next clay, The short life and the glorious for my pay. "Therefore, 0 maid! my love shall bring thee sorrow!" "Therefore," she cried, "my love will bring thee bliss Through thy short life; 0 valiant one! and borrow Light from all things for thee, and what we miss Of length of days boots it, when a morrow Will come at last when we shall fade like this, -This little flower I hold within my hand, That. plucked or not, would die upon the strand ?


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 73 And thus .they sat and vowed, till from the bank Of the bright stream came Mora, lilting sweet Her Dove Song, then long draughts of love they drank Each from the other's eyes, for hours are fleet When soul meets soul and time is ever blank ; -And Mora said, I hear the hurrying feet Of hunters in the wood and ye must part;Now let me see how heart beats unto heart!" Upstood they trembling with thei r love, and he Opening his arms, unto his breast she flew, Her fond arms round his neck, and mournfully She kissed him till he felt the love-born dew Of her tears on his cheeks. "I see! I see!" Cried Mora now, "how true heart beats to true! Away, before the hunters find the trace, But come and meet next morn in this bright place!"


74 BLAN ID. Six times they met. On the sixth morn she said, "Where is thy war-gear, 0 brave love of mine? For I would see thy bright helm on thy head, Thy battle harness with its bosses shine Of gold and brass, thy shield with Branches Red Graven upon it "Where the salty brine Rolls up the river mouth," he said, "they lie \Vi thin my broad-sailed galley for thine eye. Then come with me, 0 love, and in my hall Of strong Dun Dalgan thou a queen shalt reign, And mistress of my fond heart, over all The ladies of the land, while I attain All things for love and thee, before my fall In the great fight upon the fated plain, Eefore I die and laugh no more with thee Ah no, no, no!" she cried, "it cannot be!


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 75 "What wouldst thou think of me in years to come If I should list to thee, if I should yield, When underneath the earth my sire was dumb And could not speak his wrath with spear and shield, When thou wouldst say, She left her happy home, Her hard heart like a frozen fountain sealed 'Gainst her gray sire! Can she be true to me?' Ah no, no, no Alas it cannot be! They parted, and upon the seventh bright morn, As he rode upward through the forest wild, A small black cloud within the east was born Beneath the sun, and oft looked down and smiled With serpent face on fields of tender corn And leaf and flower of woodland calm and mild, And lake and stream, as though it whispered, I Will soon devour all things beneath the sky


BLAN ID. And as he rode, the cloud clomb up the east On the sun's track and swallowed it; around, From copse and brake the birds their carols ceased In terror, and the multitudinous sound Of the wood's life grew still; the bristled beast 'Gainst the rough oak his tusks in anger ground, The trout sank in the stream, the rabbit fled, And the brown otter sought his caverned bed. As he went through the valley of the Mead And Waterfall and Tree, east, south and west And the grim north were black : but little heed He took of all the gloom, as on he pressed, With high heart, clothed in his battle weed, To meet his love, his spear in hand, his crest Brightening the gloom, as on he rode like Nied, The God of War, along that river side.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 77 And as he came unto the trysting-place To find his love, and found no love was there, His battle-steed, Lia Macha, raised her face And neighed three times, 'till through the murky The Gods sent lightning from the dreadful space 'Tween the cloud's serpent jaws, and in the glare He saw the wood surrounded, and the sheen Of threatening swords the mossy trunks between I And as he moved the great shield from his back And poised it on his arm, Lia Macha smote The ground with earthquake hoof, and still more black The gloom became, and from the sulphurous throat Of the grim cloud burst thunder like the wrack Of worlds in their destruction, and a moat The glade seemed in a moment, from the flood Of rain dashed down from heaven upon the wood


BLAN ID. Then spake he to Lia Macha: "Thou divine, Bright searcher of the souls of heroes, thou Who, on the first morn the sharp sword did shine Of Knighthood in my hand, didst raise thy brow And neigh portentous till the deafening sign All Eman shook, as earth and heaven shakes now At thy dread voice, comrade of my last fray, Ah! bear me well, ah bear me well to-day!" Then raised he high his spear and in the gleam Of the pale lightning shook it, till its stave Trembled, as a young willow by the stream Amidst the fairy whirlwind, and he gave The rein to the fleet steed who, like a beam Piercing the dreadful darkness, onward drave Against the foeman's thickest ranks that came With a fierce shout upon him swift as flame!


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 79 And round him and Lia Macha flickering played The lightning, till to every foeman's eye He seemed a wild bright thing from heaven arrayed Bursting upon them, and his battle-cry Smote them as smote the thunder, till afraid They cowered before him, as he swept anigh With levelled spear, and through them rushing went As a fierce bull drives through the mountain bent! Then rose a wind around him and between His foes and him, upon the echoing shore, And grew in strength and scourged the copses green With wallowing sound like a huge lion's roar In haunted forests where no fqot has been, And blew around in circles and uptore Tall trees from their strong footholqs, stem an

80 BLAN ID. No more the ambush followed; yet the storm With tenfold fury raged, as on he flew Through hollows with the murderous lightnings warm, Through swollen and boiling torrents that upthrew Their treacherous waves round bright Lia Macha's form To clasp her, unavailing, till he drew Nigh to the valley of the Mead and Tree, And then the storm passed on and smote the sea. And the sun shone, and all the forest leaves Seemed hung with trembling glories glittering, The blithe red-breasted bird his song that weaves Upon the hawthorn bush began to sing, And thrushes spoke, and the lone wight that grieves At dark gave forth a strain, and many a wing Of wood-doves struck the air, and blossoms sweet Laughed in the sunlight round Lia Macha's feet.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 81 And now from the strong charger he alit, And stroked her 'tween the ears, and led her down The mead, to where the brightest spot was smit By sunbeams till it glittered like a crown With jewelled blossoms ; then the golden bit He loosed and set her free, and with a frown Turned upward to the torrent's ridge of stone To think upon his misery alone. He sat upon the rocky ledge, while loud The river down its passage raged and roared That erstwhile sang, and o'er him from a cloud The forest eagle screamed as high it soared With voice of bitter anger, and a shroud The grass looked on the meadow, and there poured Out from his laden heart without relief This stammering to himself of deadly grief: -4* F


82 BLAN ID. "Earth, air, and sun, and moon and star, Of man's strange soul but mirrors are, Bright when the soul is bright, and dark As now, without one saving spark, While the black tides of sorrow flow, And I am suffering and I know To my sad eyes that sorrow dims The greenest grass the swallow skims, The flowers that once were fair to me, The meadow and the blooming tree, Dark as funereal garments grow, And I am suffering, and I know Then stood he up, and, striding to and fro, He muttered, "Is she false? Has she betrayed My presence to her sire? Ah! no, no, no! It cannot be! Her father's spies have played Their part within the wood; and days shall grow To weary moons, and moons in years shall fade, Ere I behold her dear face, now she's gone, And lost to me for aye!" And he went on : -


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 83 The measured sounds of dancing feet, The songs of wood-birds wild and sweet, The music of the horn and flute, Of the gold strings of harp and lute, Unheeded all shall come and go, For I am suffering, and I know! "No kindly counsel of a friend With soothing balm the hurt can mend. I walk alone in grief, and make My bitter moan for her dear sake, For loss of love is man's worst woe, And I am suffering, and I know "Misery, companion dread, Thou art partner of my bed. Soul to soul will you and I Ever on the same couch lie, While life's bitter waters flow, And I am suffering, and I know


BLAN ID. Then cried he, Shall I suffer till the hour When through the fated wound my soul shall fly? Can battlemented walls, or fosse or tower, Or king or vassal, shut her from mine eye? No! By my hand of valor! if there's power In sword and spear I '11 win her ere I die Nor time, nor tide, nor intervening sea, Nor bitter wave, shall be a bar to me!" And now he called Lia Macha and bestrode Her bright back with its gay caparison. And through the glen and rain-wet forest rode In sorrow, till the river-mouth he won, Where lay his long-hulled galley, and where glowed The minstrel's robe th' embattled poop upon, As he sat waiting with his harp, again To greet the hero's ears with some blithe strain.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 85 And when the slant sun lit the waters wide, Lia Macha stood within her brazen stall Upon the galley's deck, and by her side Barana whinnied like the gladsome call Of friend to friend ; and favoring wind and tide Now turning to the west, the rocky wall Of Mana's cliffs they left, and through the spray For sad Cuhullin's home they ploughed their way. And as the hero sat with gloomy look Gazing upon the land where mourned his love, Ferkertne without weeping scarce could brook His bitter woe, and with sweet language strove To soothe him, but such sorrow ne'er forsook Its prey for kindly pleadings. Of the grove In Mana and his heart's lost love and pride He only thought, and smote his breast and cried:-


86 BLANID. Can I think with a heart elate Of the looks and the smiles that won me, While the dreadful finger of fate With its touch of iron is on me? When I sl. eep in my grave alone Where the terror of darkness lies, The joy of her voice's tone, The glance of her love-lit eyes, Will pierce through the ea!th above me, and bid me arise arise! "For the pitiless bitter wave Of mine early doom must devour me, But the laurels that deck the grave Of the valiant dead will embower me ; And perchance in the years to come, In the fondness of tears and sighs, She may lean o'er my lonely tomb, Then up to her sobs and cries, Through the earth and the tangled grasses, my wakened soul will arise


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 87 Then thought flew after thought on pinions fleet Through his wild brain, and as they darker grew, Despair, the obscene bird with taloned feet, 1 Tore at his heart, and every breath he drew Seemed fire, until he thought how heroes meet And fall, and then he saw the ghastly dew Of death on him, and the black battle-crow Perched on him on the red field lying low. Then smote he at his breast again, and cried, Is this the end of all ? Alas will she, My love! my love! no more at my side In the strange land with Gods where I shall be,-With Gods and heroes in the angry pride Of a forlorn heart? Alas with me Will she abide again? Perchance she may Walk by my side through the eternal day!"


88 BLAN ID. Now went he where the minstrel sat, and took The harp from him, and with in-gazing eye Drew his hand o'er the golden strings, and strook A strain, and, as when 'mid the mountains high An eagle questing o'er the roaring brook Feels through his breast the archer's arrow fly, With dreadful voice he cries his cry of pain, Darkening the wet gray sands with bloody stain;So rose the hero's wild and fierce lament, And the brown sailors heard it, and strong fear Fell on them, till the minstrel sighing went And took his hand in his, and said, "The bier Holds not thy loved one yet; and discontent, And grief, and the despair that hath no tear, And hath no action, ne'er can win thee back Thy love across the field that knows no track.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 89 Sit by me here upon the poop, and list To this my tale of one whom, like thee now, Misfortune, the dread hag, had wooed and kissed And lured unto her bed, but whose bright brow Sunlike arose from the foul vampire's mist, As thine will yet, when, like my hero, thou, Not by weak grief, but deeds of valor bold, Shalt win thy love And thus his tale he told : -THE WINNING OF AMARAC. To each man's heart a kingdom fair is given: Mine is girt round by lakes and silver seas And green sky-piercing mountains thunder-riven, With forests at their foot and flowery leas ; And I can make that kingdom hell or heaven As the fierce winds of passion burn and freeze, Or the soft airs of reason waft life's hours On silent wings of peace through sun and showers.


BLANED. Within my kingdom all things are that seem Before the Poet's eye: there sunny lands Outspread in glory where bright castles gleam From hill-tops, and beside the golden sands Of fairy lake, or sea, or singing stream, Rise palaces wherein the snowy hands Of ladies ever young and fair as May Weave garlands for the knights who pass the way. And there spread fastnesses of rock and wood Wherein the tawny lions ramp and roar, And the great bear stalks by the sounding flood, And wild deer graze the moorlands, and the boar And wolf and fox, as nature made their mood, Come forth and show themselves, and forests hoar Teem with bright birds and insects, and all things Of Fairy haunt the brooks and bubbling springs.


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 91 And oft I see these fairy beings pass Before mine eyes, and oft they sing to me Sweet songs, as dancing o'er the fragrant grass, Flower-garlanded, in royal pageantry They crowd some forest meadow, but, alas Howe'er by wood or stream I hear or see These people of the Sid, in heart and brain Only some echoes of their songs remain. I walked alone within my kingdom fair And heard them singing from the branchy side Of a wild wood, till the still evening air Pulsed with their music, and the silver tide Of a young mountain stream that wimpled there Forgot its murmuring, and the carols died Of birds beside the lake, that, listening As I did, heard the Spirit People sing : -


92 BLAN ID. 0 where could we, Spirits, sport in a hollow Of vernal beauty so sweet as this, Where two streams, meeting, in laughter kiss And sing towards the lake, till the light winds follow, Entranced with their music, through sun and shade, Where flies in the first of the spring the swallow To his flower that waits in the windy glade? Here the doves in the tall green pines are cooing, Here the linnet sings from the gorse's gold, And the lark soars high o'er the morning wold, And the cuckoo comes at the year's renewing, Calling from heaven,' Awake! awake! 0 flowers and grass, to the South-wind's wooing And the soft rain's kisses by stream and lake "Here springs our well of the sacred water, Here droops o'er its crystal the Rowan-Tree With its berries red as the red lips be Of the bright-haired Amarac, Fierne's daughter, Who sits 'neath its shadow and calls and cries, From the stricken plain, from the ridge of slaughter, Can my love come back? Can the dead arise?


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 93 Her love: -alas! she loved a mortal knight Who from the south and strong Tintagel came, Singing upon his harp the deeds of might Wrought by his hand, and ever seeking fame With valiant heart in tourney and in fight; And ladies' smiles and warriors' loud acclaim Met him where'er he went, till one still morn He woke from sleep 'neath Fierne's elfin thorn. He woke, and looking through the silver mist In which the young dawn wraps itself enwoven With films of gold, saw o'er him sunrise-kissed Tall pinnacles of rock, and, earthquake-cloven, A gorge beneath, a lake of amethyst In the reflected light, with rocks uphoven Like towers around its brink, save where the dawn Faced it, and there outsprec;d a grassy lawn.


94 BLANID. And on that lawn, where the sweet waters speed Out from the lake, he saw the snowy kine Of Amarac upon the blossoms feed In silence, and beheld the Maid divine Standing beside the stream in golden weed, Watching the first red beams of morn to shine Upon her white-backed herd, when she and they Would fade in mist from mortal sight away! He looked and loved ; she looked and loved him, too; But as he rose up from his grassy bed To clasp her to his burning heart, she knew Her father's weird was on her, and she fled With her white herd into the lake that, blue Like molten sapphire, in a moment spread O'er them, with mystic echoes sweetly ringing Round the calm shores But hark the Spirits' singing!-


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 95 "To the ends of the earth Did the noble knight wander, And the sounds of his mirth Were the battle-field's thund e r, As he laughed like the Morn in her stormy attire ; And his foemen were scattered as straw in his ire, And he trod on their necks And he clove them asunder And consumed them with fire "But we followed him far As his fierce passion bore him, His moon and his star That one image before him ; And in safety he looked upon war's brazen gleam, In safety he slumbered by meadow and stream, For we moved by his side, And our wings fluttered o'er him, And we calmed him in dream "Then we placed in his breast The black Pearl of Sorrow, And his passion's unrest Died away on the morrow,


BLAN!D. And we soon lured him back to her mountains, to slake His thirst in our well and her calm crystal lake, And to talk with his soul That its darkness might borrow Some light for her sake Once more he slept, once more he woke, and then Rose from his grassy couch, and 'neath a tree That drooped its branching glories by the glen, Hid himself till the dawn rose and the lea Showed its sward prankt with fresh flowers, and again Out from the depths of that small crystal sea The snowy-backed and pink-eared cattle came With Amarac ere rose the morn's full flame. He stept from his concealment, and besought Her love in burning words that brought the tears To her compassionate eyes, and gently wrought Within her heart strange yearnings and quick fears;


THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 97 But soon her memory stung her, and distraught With sorrow for his mournfulness, she nears .. The margent of the lake, and with her kine Under its waters hides her head divine. He dropt upon the grass, as one whom dead A lance-but strikes in battle, and he lay 'Neath the tree's shadow on the moist cold bed Of grass and flowers, until the glorious day Reached the blue lake from the bright mountain head; Then sprang he on his steed, and went his way Through the wide world redressing sin and wrong With harp and sword. But hark the Spirits' song! -FIRST SPIRIT. "Where the vapors thicken Through the city's ways, And the people sicken In the poisoned blaze 5 G

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BLAN ID. Of the sun that rots the swamp, There beside the failing lamp Of the lowly and the stricken He hath stood to cheer and quicken With his harp life's dying rays SECOND SPIRIT. Where tyrants darkened the light In the hearts of mankind With the tortures of famine and blight And the shackles that bind, There his broad pennon streamed to the wind And the weak ones arose and followed, And the strength of the tyrants melted away, Like the blood-red eve of a stormy day, In the jaws of the battle swallowed I FIRST SPIRIT. He turned in a waking dream From the home of the rising morn, Lured by her deep eyes' gleam To the land where his love was born ;

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THE DESPAIR OF CUHULL!N. 99 And no doonvay of joy would ope, No clou
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100 BLAN/D. And now he touched his harp, and soft and low The strings spoke to his fingers, and anear The kine drew in the ever-brightening glow Of the calm dawn, while one, unknown to fear, The infant of the herd, with footsteps slow Came nigher still, and stood with raptured ear, As if she ne'er again cared to behold The buttercups that turned her teeth to gold. And still the sweet strings spoke, and nearer yet To the green tree the large-eyed listener drew With dainty footsteps that scarce seemed to fret From the young flowers and grass the diamond dew. Then stooped the player; his harp he set Beside the tree, and from his ambush flew And grasped the offspring of the morn By one pink ear and by one budding horn

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THE DESPAIR OF CCHULLIN. IOI A hurrying by the lakelet and a cry! A sparkle in his eyes! No more, no more He held his little captive ;-with a sigh He turned, and on the meadow's blossomed floor His love stood near the stream-bank bright and shy As a young sea-gull on some sunny shore, And spoke to him. 0 love she said, 0 love 0 dear one, well thy fealty thou dost prove! 0 dear beloved one, I weep for thee, I've wept and weep for thee, but not in vain, And I will seek this spot and hallowed tree And yearn for thee and think of all thy pain! But go, beloved ; the Rovers of the sea Fasten upon thy land their cruel One trial more, until thy land rejoices At thy best deed!" But hark the Spirit voices! -

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102 BLAN ID. FIRST SPIRIT. He went forth like a meteor of morning, and the rocks felt the hoofs of his steed, He tore through the fords of the rivers, and he furrowed the swards with his speed, And the lances that gathered around him were thick as the larches that shake In the broad shaggy woods of Bengara, when the whirl wind sweeps down from the lake ; And his shout was the cry of the eagle, and his charge was the shock of the sea When it rolls with its tide and its tempest and swallows the sands ; and the tree Of his long spear uplifted his pennon like the terror of the moon in eclipse, Till it fluttered in the winds of his triumph and the foemen fell back to their ships ; But alas for the broad-barbed arrow and its swift path of woe through his side, And the bowstring of fury that winged it ere the last of the red Rovers died SECOND SPIRIT. His soul soared high o'er the battle wrack, But we hovered around her and J:>rought her back,

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THE DESPAIR OF CUHULLIN. 103 Brought her back through the passage narrow, The bitter road of the barbed arrow, And we opened his eyes, and he looked around On the ruined things of the foughten ground, And we saw in his quick-returning sense His life's fair purpose and thought intense ; And we scattered the clouds of his battle-swound, And we placed her gift on his ruddy wound, Her heart's bright treasure, all gifts above, The rose-red Pearl of perfect love I hear a horse-tramp echoing from the dell I He comes gay glittering up the ferny pass I I see bright Amarac beside the well Trembling, till in a gleam of gold and brass He leaps from his strong steed Ah I who can tell Their happiness? The flow\!rS amid the grass Laughed brighter, and the birds sang by the shore To see these lovers meet and no more!

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104 BLAN ID. "What think' st thou now, 0 mournful one? Can this, Thy morn of life unclouded all glide on? See what things happed to mar my hero's bliss, And how with hopeful heart he fought and won, Won even his love, his love so sure to miss, So hard to win! And now life's currents run Against thee, yet keep high thy heart, and ne'er Let black misfortune bring thee to despair Next eve, with grateful heart and farewells kind, The minstrel southward rode, and for his train Two pages took, and three young steeds the wind Could not outstrip, three hounds with bell and chain, Three hawks of Guydilod ; yet in his mind A dark unrest grew and a secret pain, Thinking what cureless woes this love might bring To strong Cuhullin, Blanid, and his King!

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 105 THE TAKING OF MANA. SAID Mora in the garden, "He is gone! But fear thou not, for in the hall to-day As the great storm subsided, I asked one About thy love who in the ambush lay, And he replied, 'Some bright God by the Sun Sent down to earth he seemed, as in the ray Of lightning he rushed through us, and his shout Worse than the thunder was and storm's wild rout!' s

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I06 BLAN ID. "What think' st thou now of love?" Then Blan id kept Her glance fixed on the ground awhile, and wrung Her lovely hands, and with wild passion wept As though her heart would burst, but from her tongue No answer came; while Mora nigh her crept And kissed her cheek and said," The bards have sung Thy fame throughout the world, and thinkest thou That he '11 forget ? that he forsakes thee now ? I know not love, but yet I know fond eyes I And each sad morn when thou from him didst part, 0 mistress fair, I marked his tear-drops rise And his great bosom heave, and saw him dart Sweet glances back on thee; and as for sighs, He sighed as doth the merchant for his mart Of when 'mid wrath and pillage born The robbers come and leave him all forlorn.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. IOJ "Who sighs like him will ne'er his love desert, But, like my brother, when his bride he sought, The fair Brigantian, Nera ;-as thou wert These days she was, she loved him, till she brought Upon his head her father's ire ; begirt For war my brother sailed the sea and fought For love and Nera, and with sword and fire And fifty galleys reft her from her sire. So he will come and take thee, and when I, In other days, shall grow to womanhood, Some lovely lord with heart and courage high May spread his sails and plough the salty flood And win me for his bride, and when I die May weep for me!" Then up the bright one stood, Folding the Chatterer in her fondling arms, Half comforted and cured of love s alarms.

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108 BLANID. And still increased her fame : on winged feet Rumor danced round the world with cap and bells, Jangling his foolish music wild and sweet All in her praise, from courts where empire dwells In glory, to the babbling village street, Casting o'er all a glamour of strange spells, Till no man's head or heart or soul was free, And the world bound in love's strong slavery. Then rose throughout the lands a threatening hum, Man's savage growl to taste forbidden fruit, And those who in her presence erst were dumb, Or wooed her with sweet songs of harp and lute, Now set their passions free, grew venturesome With bloody sword and spear to press their suit, And leagued and schemed till their invading sails Shadowed the deep and swallowed all the gales.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 109 And like thick flocks of gulls that from afar Strain landward in white myriads when the storms Out on the ocean wage their tpundering war, From northern coasts the slant sun scarcely warms, From east and west, from 'neath the southern star, From continent and sea-beat isle, in swarms, With sails spread wide and pennons flying gay, The mustering ships thronged bright Dun Dalgan's bay. From far Hispanian mountain crests that lower Over the wallowing bay of Biscany, Batanjos came with all his vassal power In twelve long galleys laboring up the sea, His prow a Wolf, his ensign a high Tower, His men in armor glittering barbarously; Fierce were their looks and savage was their speech Like growling of wild waves on Lora' s beach.

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I IO BLAN ID. Next from strong Gallia's shores Toutillos came Whose conquering sword oft crossed the Roman blade. The heart that throbbed within his mighty frame Was love-sick now at thought of that fair maid; His followers trod the decks with eyes of flame, And flashing arms, and heavy helms arrayed With head-skins of great beasts whose gorgon look The weak beholder's heart with terror shook. From where the Sea Ploughers bored the glistening sod For ores by toppling crags of Cornuaille, Stout Penon came with ensign flying broad And gilded pine-tree mast and silken sail Phrenician-like; the lord of Guydilod, Mathonwy, in his plumes and painted mail, Across the tumbling waves behind him bore With seven tall ships from wild Brigantia's shore.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. I 1 I .. Like a fierce sea-hawk from its savage nest, Down from the woody shores of Caledon, Dara was there in ruffling tartans drest With shining eagle plumes his helm upon ; With him five chiefs the self-same amorous quest Sought from their windy homes where billows run With ceaseless clamor loud before the breeze Of Orkney and the wave-worn Hebrides. From stern Norwegian valleys, well bedight In armor of stout bull-hide studded o'er With scale of brass and boss of silver bright, Tall Broder came with nine ships, and the shore Resounded like strong thunder in the night, As his fierce followers with loud uproar Leaped from the bulwarks knee-deep in the wave, And to the strand in long lines shouting drave.

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112 BLAN ID. And Erin sent her lords and chiefs of pride, Their valiant hearts by _love's enchantment led, From coasts where morn salutes Kilmantan's side, To Mizzen and Kinsala's ancient head; From west and north, to where with sunset dyed, Ben Borka seeks the stars o'er ocean's bed, And inland from the mighty flood that drains Heberian hills and Heremonian plains. Now on the gathered ships slow fell the night, And the sky oped o'er earth her jewelled page, And in Dun Dalgan's hall of festive light The thronging warriors met for council sage ; Over their heads the white lamps glittered bright On arms that oft had stemmed the battle's rage, On brazen harnesses and helms of gold And flags and trophies of the days of old.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. I 13 And fast the goblets flowed, and clear and sweet The minstrels on their harps began to play, While heroic poems' flowing rhythmic feet Danced from their mouths, and many a shorter lay Of love was sung with heavenly joy would greet The dullest ear, till in his bright array Of war upstood the Gaul, Toutillos strong, And thus in soldier's words addressed the throng:"Comrades! some hero must command this quest Over us all for high achievement good, Some man of wondrous soul whom all the rest Can follow, and, if fate wills, wade through blood For honor and for love; and in my breast On the high place one hero long hath stood, Brighter than all by fame's effulgence lit, Cuhullin, in whose bannered hall we sit!" H

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BLANID. Then turned he to Dun Dalgan's lord. "To thee, Strongest of heroes, prince of high renown, And topmost flower of valor's stately tree, I give my voice, and droop my pennon down; Her father was thy dead sire's enemy, Then do thou lead, and bright success shall crown Our enterprise And through the echoing hall Assent the heroes shouted one and all. Now stately rose Cuhullin : 0 brave peers, I may not say ye nay, the more that I Have seen her, that these glad, enraptured ears Heard her delightful voice in days gone by; But ere we win her, many a grove of spears And many a man and cloven shield shall lie Along the smoking breaches as we cross With victor feet her castle's circling fosse

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 115 And so it fell that ere the jewels red That deck Dawn's golden sandals lit the sky, Raising the anchors from their oozy bed The sailors their strong cables 'gan to ply. And as the sun upraised his burning head Over the bulging waves, afar and nigh, Scattered along the breezy waters free, The great fleet sailed for Mana of the Sea. Deep in a vale the Hold of Mana stood, Where many a dell with falling streamlets rang, Where trees their blossomy raiments from each wood Flaunted, and all day long the wild-birds sang; Yet not so far from Ocean's restless flood But one might smell the salt and hear the clang Of sea-birds and the muffled sound of waves Rumbling in hollow thunder the caves.

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I 16 BLAN ID. Far other sounds that castle soon shall hear Than songs of birds and murmurs of sweet streams, From iron rams' rock-splintering, ponderous gear, From catapults' loud-clashing chains and beams ; Yet little does the old King fret or fear, But sits from day to day like one in dreams Of great exploits and actions to be done When the strong leaguer draws his hold upon. What should he fear within his lordly hold, Through middle air by magic might uphurled, Built by his foresire, Mananan, of old, A wonder and a glory to the world? Three giant walls its broad girth did enfold, Three shining fosses like great serpents curled Between them, by three brazen bridges spanned, With brazen gates wrought by no earthly hand

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 'Tween the two outward fosses and high walls Laughing in light the lovely garden spread, One fair expanse of bloom, with waterfalls 117 And singing runnels from the fountain fed ; There lived no noisome thing that creeps or crawls, There glad birds sang with notes would wake the dead, And flowers of every cliIIJe and every hue In nurtured bed or glade of wildness grew. High o'er the towered walls twelve faces bright To the green woods that castle did display, Whereon the figures of the Months were
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118 BLANID. There April stepped the daisied pastures through In azure gown with girlish smile most sweet, Pale pansies, primroses, and violets blue Sprang up where 'er she set her dainty feet; And May, her laughing sister, seemed she flew Over the spangled meads in joy to greet Bright June, the lovely queen of all the flowers, Enthroned amid her ever-blooming bowers. And there was strong July, the lusty swain, Knee-deep amidst the new-mown meadow grass, And August, jolly farmer, on his wain Of golden corn by orchards ripe did pass, One hand upon the poppy-wreathed rein, One beckoning to a brown-cheeked country lass, Buxom September, bright-eyed, rose-lipped, clad In russet not too gay and not too sad.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. I 19 .. Next like the remnant of a kingly man October 'mid the brown woods brooding came; Him followed, as though neath some withering ban, November sour, a wrinkled spitfire dame, Then he whose steps had reached life's farthest span, Hoary December, wheezing, hobbling, lame, Bent o'er his crutch and very lean, And all but dead from palsy, pains, and spleen High towering o'er these wondrous imageries Shot up a world of gilded dome and vane, Pinnet and fretted roof, like phantasies That run at full moon through a madman's brain; And could you through its crystal galleries And golden halls and bowers hear fitting strain, One long-drawn dream of glory none could tell Would hold you many an hour beneath its spell!

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120 BLANID. Within the garden on the fragrant grass Sat Blanid with her bower-maid at the noon Of a still day, and made the fond hours pass With talk of love, the ever-living boon Of the almighty Gods, that yet, alas! Oft treads upon our souls with angry shoon ; And Blan id said, "I know, howe 'er it be, That some great horror now approacheth me "Rumor is busy now, and tells his tale This way and that, how 'cross the heaving brine For Mana's shore each ship of war doth sail That e'er was built; and what joy can be mine, Well knowing that ev'n here shall rise our wail Some day for my sire's loss, that we shall pine Captives of some dread lord whose looks shall lower And slay us as the east wind slays the flower ?

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,, THE TAKING OF MANA. 121 "What fearest thou," said Mora, of thy doom ? The minstrels sing thy lover's praises loud; One look from his kind eyes will chase the gloom That chills thy heart. Remember ye are vowed Soul unto soul forever. He will come, And, like the royal eagle from the cloud 'Midst little hawks contending for the prey, He '11 swoop and bear thee to his home away!" But nathless Blanid weptJ and in her grief Asked for the lute, and said, "To yonder dell Go thou and bring me dewy flower and leaf Of roses, that unwitnessed I may tell Some thoughts unto my love, for no reprief My heart has in his absence!" By the well She sat alone, her blue eyes filled with tears, And sang unto her love her hopes and fears : -6

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122 BLAN.lD. SONG. I walk in dreams 'mid heavenly hills, I hear the music of their rills, Their wild-birds sing, their zephyrs play, In greenwoods of eternal May. I see their mom and sunset gleams Far glittering over lakes and streams, Where happy spirits born to love Disport by fragrant bank and grove. "Amidst those spirits everywhere, By lake and stream and forest fair, With gladsome heart, with sweet surprise, I see thee and thy smiling eyes. "And as I feel thy radiant glance, My fears retreat, my hopes advance, The hemlock, grief, hath lost its bane, The rose of joy is mine again "Then oh perchance these visions come As messengers from some fair home, Some world of bliss and constancy Bright after death for you and me

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 123 "0 love! 0 love she cried, "couldst thou stand by us On the dark day of doom that comes so fast, In glorious wage of war the world might try us And reap defeat and ruin, and, aghast With terror at thy hand of valor, fly us, But ah! my sire, relentless to the last! He will not see my tears, or hear thy suit, But thirsts' for vengeance and war's bitter fruit!" By this young Mora from the dell of flowers Came with one hand beneath her robe, and said, "I've roamed and searnhed around the white-rose bowers But found none fit for thee, nor through the red: At last I reached a sward of sun and showers Where shone these love) y blooms I brought instead, These gems that deck the garden's fairy spots, Wild hyacinths and sweet forget-me-nots."

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124 BLAN JD. And then she bared her nimble hand and laughed, And, holding up the flowers, said, "Here they are! These blue-bells, in the gentle poet's craft Emblems of constancy, and, dearer far, .. These beautiful forget-me-nots that quaffed The cool dew when the blinking morning star Rose o'er the hill! Here, take them, and be sure As that thou 'It kiss them his love will endure And Blanid took the flowers and in their bloom Buried her rosy mouth. "Ah well I see," Then Mora cried, "how thy bright eyes illume One for remembrance, one for constancy! But sit thee down. No more of grief and gloom! Give me the lute and I will sing to thee The song that Tiernan made for me and taught me With the first brightforget-me-nots he brought me!

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 125 FORGET ME NOT. "The East Wind sprang into a lovely place, And cried, 'I'll slay the flowers and leave no trace Of all their blooming in this happy spot And, as before his breath the sweet flowers died, One little bright-eyed blossom moaned and cried, 0 woods forget me not forget me not "' 0 woods of waving trees 0 living streams In all your noontide joys and starry dreams, Let me, for love, let me be unforgot 0 birds that sing your carols while I die, 0 list to me 0 hear my piteous cry Forget me not alas forget me not And the Gods heard her plaint and swept away The bitter-fanged, strong East Wind from his prey, And smiled upon the flower and changed her lot, So now that, as we mark her azure leaf, We think of life and love and parting grief, And sigh, Forget me not forget me not

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126 BLAN ID. And thus the hours were passed, while to their shore Over the waters wide the ships drew near, Propelled by favoring wind and sturdy oar And thronged with valiant hearts that knew not fear, Plying, as to some stricken field of gore The prey-birds haste from rocks and deserts drear, With hungry eyes and eager wings outspread, To raven and to batten on the dead! 'Mongst wonders told by hardy sailor folk Who from hot climes their way of peril win, Some monstrous spider, just as morn has broke, O'er a cave's mouth his treacherous web doth spin, To wrap round robber wasps the fatal yoke, And flies and gilded gnats to catch therein, So sat the old King in his halls and planned Death to the coming raiders. of his land!

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 127 At length it happed that, as one morn he chose To view his manned walls, with sour look and fell He saw the glancing banners of his foes Rising and falling with the ocean swell Over the bay, and, as next morn arose, From clouds of dust that choked the forest dell Flashed hostile sword and helm and bright cuirass And many an iron spear and shield of brass And like some orient grove that all in bloom Nods its tall blossoms to the swaying breeze, With myriad mantles gay, with crest and plume, With fluttering flags and war's best braveries, Emerging from the dusky valley's womb, From forest path and pass, his enemies Over the open meads, far shining, wound, Encompassing his stronghold round and round

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128 BLAN ID. Ere the hot sun had set, their ordered camp, White tent and silk pavilion, gleamed like gold Smit by his rays, and tramp re-echoed tramp Of sentinels around the glittering wold ; And on the castle walls, when rose night's lamp, Her silvery rays glimmered with radiance cold On swords and spear-points thick as autumn corn Ready for fight and waiting for the morn. And when the next sun's life-inspiring rays Smote the moist meads and dried the pearly dew, A herald, his gay tabard all ablaze With broideries rich, slow toward the castle drew And halted nigh the fosse, his fearless gaze Bent on the foe awhile; then shrilly blew His trumpeter three warning blasts, and then He spoke his message unto Mana's men.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 129 Prompt to the message came the thundering clang Of a great arblast's chain, and then down bore A bolt that through the bright air whizzed and sang, And.nigh their feet the sunny greensward tore;High o'er the grass the trumpeter upsprang And turned his back and fled in panic sore, The haughty herald pacing slow behind With stately step and unperturbed mind! Whereat, along the weapon-bristling walls Peal e d a great laugh that made the valleys ring, And from the camp uprose the captains' calls, With clash of arms and noise of marshalling, Till from the forest's sunny intervals Out rushed the hosts in long lines glittering, With shout and threatening clang, and many a note Defiant from the trumpet's brazen throat. 6"

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BLANID. Then javelins sang their death-songs as they flew With sharp, shrill clangor swift from foes to foes, And clouds of feathered darts obscured the blue, Huge engines thundered and great cries arose; And louder and more wild the clamor grew, As when a storm at morn begins and blows With gathering fury, till, ere night's dull shade, The tall trees of the forest low are laid. So fought they, till the broad fosse deep and calm Was bridged with dead, and o'er that weapon-gored And ghastly ridge, the inces sant thundering ram A yawning breach through the outward ballium bored: Then towering o'er his men, as towers a palm O'er the tall forest-trees, Dun Dalgan's lord Shouted his battle-cry, and with firm treaCl The fierce assault o'er the red ruin led.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 131 High were their valiant hearts as they rushed in And planked the second fosse with small delay, Haling between them the remorsel e ss gin That through the second ballium tore its way; Then rose above the high walls such a din As thunder. makes, when on an autumn day The trembling wanderer hears its earthquake tone Rattling behind the ridgy hills of stone. Hard fought the heroes in that bold attack With all that men could do of bravery: Twice were they driven the bloody breaches back, Thrice inward drave as rolls Toth's plunging sea 'Tween Skerry's Rocks, and with hearts nothing slack Of valiance, breast to breast and knee to knee, Fighting they hel
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132 BLAN ID. As a young vestal with the sacred flame Lights the gemmed arches of some temple dome, The moon from pearl-bright bowers then upward came, Flooding the heavens with light as on she clomb : On hills and lakes and woods she writ her name, Queen of repose, and her calm smiles brought home Quiet to marshalled camp and guarded hold, Till Morn awoke and shook her locks of gold. Then rose again the clang, the shout, the cry Of war from inward fosse and outward pale, And fast again the arrowy showers did fly From twanging bows thick as the rattling hail From thundering cloud and lightning-litten sky, And shields were split, and riven breast and mail Gave forth the souls of heroes, till the night Lowered o'er the woods, and still the clamorous fight

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 133 Raged round the castle with redoubled roar Through all the long and.lonesome hours of dark, As roll Moyle's wallowing billows on the shore Mixed with the mariners' cries ; and still their mark The axe and red glaive made of steaming gore On many a hero's front, until the lark Sang his thin song from heavenly meadows sweet Bright with the radiance of Dawn's rosy feet. And still the battle raged. Of great deeds done By strong Toutillos, Penon, and their peers What need to tell? How Mana's heroes won High names of bright renown for after years ; How from the clashing catapults out spun The whizzing bolts through groves of splintering spears, Till the hot noon, when th' inner ballium broke Before the cruel ram's earth-shaking stroke.

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134 BLANID. Then, as Dun Dalgan's lord prepared to cross, Beside the breach rose an unearthly sound From a huge wheel gray with ten centuries' moss That now 'gan turning slowly round and round, Until the weeds and waters of the fosse With ever-growing speed it churned and ground, While round the echoing walls the watchword ran I Of "Gaily speed thy wheel, 0 Mananan For there 'twas set in ages long gone by By Mananan, the Ruler of the sea, With many a magic rite the wall anigh, Better than stone a triple fence to be, And thus within they raised their triumph cry To Mananan, and clashed their shields in glee To see the wheel's tremendous vans below Smite the red fosse with many a sounding blow;-

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 135 To see the broad fosse once as smooth as glass Driven in a tide no mortal power could stay, That almost choked the shuddering bridge of brass With whirling watery torrents white with spray! It was a stream no living wight could pass, And thus, as smote the sun's retiring ray In red effulgence upon land and main The heroes met for council once again. With fierce eyes full of baffled rage and care And burning heart each hero told his need, Till all had spoken, yet no man would dare To tempt the magic title's devouring speed; Then 'midst them suddenly were they aware Of a tall warrior clad in brazen weed, Whose voice from out his hollow helmet broke Like a strong torrent's rumbling as he spoke: -

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BLANID. "0 valiant ones the yawning breach is red With many a brave man's blood, but all m vain, For o'er the whirling moat may no man tread, The castle's shield of safety and your bane! Yet here am I, and by my father's head, And by the Sun and Wind, I swear to gain Your passage to the hold, if you decree The brightest jewel there my choice to be! "See ye this magic spear? With its strong aid Can we alone the castle overthrow ; By a great Danaan smith of old 'twas made With many a potent spell against the foe And one against its master: -when its blade Is raised to strike, and strikes not a sure blow, Stayed by one thrill of fear, it hath the charm To wither for a moon the coward arm.

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T THE TAKING OF MANA. 137 "Then first at morn when the red sunbeams spring O'er the whale's restless home, again fall on, For I would hear the bolts of iron swing From the strong arblasts, and the shout and groan Of heroes, and the rattling javelins ring On the hard mail, and crash of falling stone From the high walls the earth around me shake, To swell this heart such deed to undertake!" And so it was: and as the earth was dight By the glad Morn in robes of pearl and gold, The great sun's eye unblinking saw the fight Rage once again around that stubborn hold : And myriad deeds were done of matchless might In that stern fray, and myriad heroes bold Slept the long glorious slumber of the brave Beneath their earthen mounds by Mana's wave.

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BLANID. There many a man's dim closing eye was cast In wonder at the strange Knight's glittering form, His spear-shaft sloped, like a tall galley's mast Bent slantwise by the buffets of the storm, As with grim frowning brows and footsteps fast Along the breach with heroes' heart-blood warm, 'Mid showers of bolts and darts, like Crom the God Of Thunder, toward the magic wheel he trod. Now paused he for a space and looked, when, lo! Between him and the fosse erstwhile so near, There spread a stricken war-field, where the glow Fell lurid upon broken sword and spear; And from a reedy marsh a javelin's throw Upon his right crept forth a thing of fear, A serpent vast, with crested head, and coils Would crush ten battle chargers. Like the spoils

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THE TAKING OF MANA. 139 Of a great city gleamed his spotted back As from the trembling reeds his volumes rolled, Wide spread, approaching o'er the tangled wrack Of battle, his bright head now flashing gold, Now red, now green, now sapphire. On his track The hero stood in wrath, and with firm hold Raised high the spear that from his right hand sped Down crashing through the monster's burnished head. As he plucked forth his spear and still strode on, Out from behind a heap of slain there rose A dreadful beast with eyes that gleamed and shone In fury, like the eyes of one of those Twin Dragons of the Strife that ever run Beside the feet of Bava when she goes From the bright Mount of Monad with the brand Of war far flaring in her armed hand.

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BLANID. So flashed the beast's wild eyes, while o'er the dead He rushed to meet his foe; as he drew nigh Uprose the glittering shaft and spear-point dread And then shot forth, and 'mid the fire-bright eye Pierced him through brain and body, on the bed Of war transfixing him ; then rising high The hero loosed his spear, and 'mid the slain Left him still writhing, and strode forth again. And, as hi)! went, there rose at every rood Some mo9ster dire his onward course to stay To the dread wheel, but through the demon brood He fearless broke, until before him lay A river whirling by of streaming blood. Shouting he plunged therein, and made his way Up the far bank, and raising high his spear Strode onward still across that field of fear.

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THE TAKING OF MANA. Then rose from off the blood-stained fern a shape Tall, threatening, with a crown upon his head, Bright clad in gold and brass from heel to nape Of sturdy neck, and with a mantle red Wind-blown, that let the dazzling flashes 'scape Of the strong mail, as now with onward tread He strode, and raised his giant arm in wrath, To the great wheel to stop the hero's _path ;-The hero who, now pausing, looked, and there Under the crown saw hi-s dead father's face Approaching with fell frowning, ghastly stare Against him: yet no whit the hero's pace Was checked thereat;-on high his spear he bare And pierced the Phantom's breast, and all the place Was empty now, and by the fosse's marge He felt the mortal arrows smite his targe.

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BLANJD. Then stood he like a tower and poised his spear, And lightning-like the fateful weapon flung, And lodged it in the wheel's loud-roaring gear, Firm fixed in the huge plank whereon 'twas hung;No more the fosse whirled round with tide of fear, No more the magic engine thundering rung: Still as a frozen mill.wheel now it lay, And through the last breach open was the way. No minstrel's tongue, or taught in heaven or hell, Whate'er of pearls of price his harp adorn, Howe'er his fingers touch the strings, could tell The great deeds done upon that far-famed morn ; How amid heaps of slain the old King fell, How to the wood the Bloom-bright One forlorn And her fair maids were brought forth from the hold, With all the treasures of bright gems and gold.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 143 THE TEARS OF BLANID. THERE spread a lovely glade all cool and still Three javelin casts beyond the outer wall, Where bloomed their seasons wild-rose, daffodil, Fresh daisy, hyacinth, and foxglove tall, And many another flower at Nature's will: And there she stood, the sweetest flower of all, The Bloom-bright One, that eve, her maids amid, The glory of her eyes by tears half hid.

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144 BLAN ID. There in barbaric splendor o'er the green Were strewn the spoils from stubborn Mana won, Broad golden bowls up-filled with sapphires sheen And diamonds that once in beauty shone On brow of Indian maid, or dusky queen Of realms that burn 'neath Afric's blinding sun, And chalices with pearls filled to the lips, Brought thitherward by wandering Tyrian ships. And there gleamed piles of linked armor gay, And helms with crests that shone like yellow fire, And plumes of that strange bird old legends say Springs to new life from its own burning pyre, And wondrous bucklers brought from far Cathay, And bright stuffs from the golden looms of Tyre, Baldricks and gilded torques and costly rings, And jewelled swords fit for the sons of kings,

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THE TEARS OF BLAN!D. And drinking cups with carven slender stems; Dishes of gold, and fairy baskets wrought 145 Of pearl and silver filled with emerald gems Whose least would make ten misers' souls dis traught, And opals upon quaint old diadems, And rubies on huge crowns of splendor brought By Mananan from many a royal head Of kingdoms by the sea long swallowed. Now on them from the reddening western skies The sun shone and a blaze of glory niade, Ten thousand gnats and glistering dragon-flies And glowing moths seemed circling round the glade, And lizards' backs and myriad serpents' eyes Tremulous to gleam by fern and grassy blade, And all men wondered as they stood around To see such treasures spread on mortal ground. 7 J

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BLAN ID. Amid these priceless hoards young Blanid stood With all her lovely bower-maids weeping sore, Her cloak fallen at her feet, her Tyrian hood Thrown back, her gown's blue radiance rippled o'er By her bright silken a tawny flood That almost reached the smooth glade's emerald floor, Where glanced thewh i te pearls on her broidered shocfn Like silver-glistening dew-drops 'neath the moon. And round the glade, leaning on their long spears, Stood the great knights, the marrers of her mirth; Who looked on her as though with doubts and fears That her bright beauty had no mortal birth ; For, nathless her keen sorrow and her tears, The red of all the roses of the earth Seemed on her lips, and in her eyes the blue Of all the violets that since Adam grew.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 147 Advanced beyond the throng and towering high Stood he whose might the magic wheel did tame, With spear in hand, the lightning of his eye From his barred helmet glinting like a flame, As drew Dun Dalgan's mighty lord anigh And spoke aloud : "0 knight without a name, To whom we owe the castle's mastery, Choose now thy jewel, whatsoe'er it be!" Then strode he forth and laid his armed hand Upon the shrinking shoulder of the maid: I choose," he said, this flower of all the land, This priceless gem in beauty's garb arrayed; And if there be amongst this soldier band A lord or prince of honor so unstaid As now to say me nay, then I stand here To prove my well-won right with shield and sp!!ar

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BLANID. There fell '1. surly silence on the throng, And all their valiant hearts grew cold as stone, Their knightly promise pledged, or right or wrqng, To make the loveliest jewel there his own; Wistful they stood and grieved, until erelong Burst from their laboring breasts a bitter groan Like the hoarse grumbling of the storm's last breeze Dying amid the sturdy forest-trees. What recked they now of gems and stores of gold But as poor gauds worthlcl>s in all men's eyes, As from their midst they saw the hero bold Through the green glades bear off the glorious prize, With her bower-maids, her foster-mother old, And a stout varlet of her house ? The skies Parkened apace, and the sun left them there Dumb as hollow night in their despair.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 149 The moon and stars shone bright on Mana's bay, The winds were still, the drowsy sailors slept, And all the mighty fleet in silence lay, When from the shadow that the huge rocks kept Over a little inlet bore away The galley of the Nameless Knight, and swept, With brawny arms and hands to ply the oar, Towards Borka's blue-bright peaks from Mana shore. Over its royal deck were all things strewn Fit for his weeping prize to rest upon, Gemmed seats carved o'er with many an ancient rune, Footstools, Ulidian webs of saffron lawn, Thick cloths of gold, the Persian's gorgeous boon, Gay Tyrian shawls that with strange brilliance shone, And Norland furs, and tawny lions' hides From the brown burning tracts that Nile divides.

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1$0 BLANID. Amidst them in her tameless agony Prone on the deck long lay the Bright One low, And yet no sighs would come her breast to free, No tears to lighten her sad weight of woe; At length she sat her up, and piteously Crept nigh her foster dame, and to and fro Rocked herself, moaning like a wounded hind In a wild forest far from all mankind! Then Mora crept anigh. 0 child and friend Said Blanid, "now our night of life's begun, Our misery without a change or end ;-Where now are those kind Gods whose smiles we won With prayers? Where now to shelter and defend The helpless? While our sad currents run, No more, no more they '11 smile on us, and give The sweet joys back that made life worth to live!

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 151 "No more, no more my father's face we'll see, Smiling farewell at night ; alas no more Shall his fond arms of love be clasped round me For morning's welcome; in the breach of gore He lies with stiffened hand, the enemy In piles around him heaped, his banner tore, His bright sword broken, and his nobles all Stretched stark beside him o'er red breach and wall. "And my beloved one, who with my sire Shared all my heart, woe, woe for me and him No more where laughs the foxglove's gay attire By the woodside we '11 meet. Destruction grim Hath plunged my native land in war's hot mire Of blood And now her fading shores grow dim!"And down the Bright One fell, and, lying prone, Kept muttering to herself her parting moan : -

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BLANJD. Farewell to thee, Mana beloved Forlorn as thou art Too well was thy valiance proved, Dear home of my heart No more shall thy halls of glory Sound to the harp and flute; Still; still is the minstrel's story, And the voice of the bard is mute. "Farewell to thee, Mana beloved Alas and alas Where the feet of my girlhood roved, From the tangled grass In my desolate place of roses The grim, gray wolf doth whine, And the bat 'mid the leaves reroses In the bowers that once were mine. Farewel]. to thee, Mana beloved I To thy guest-halls bright, Where the fingers of minstrels moved Unto sounds of delight Farewell to thy vale and forest, Thy cincture of sea-waves green, And the mantle of joy thou worest In the happy days that have been

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,"THE. TEARS OF BLANID. 153 Again crept Mora to her, whispering, "What ails thee, dearest? Raise thy heart and cry Unto the Gods l Perchance thy voice will bring Upon our hapless state their kindly eye! Bethink thee of the fair ones whom the wing Of fortune flapped in anger l Did they die In their first black despondency ? Ah, no They lived to see joy ending all their woe! "Think of fair Etain's fortunate return To her fond lover's arms from Midir's land, Of young Fingalla and the Fairy Urn, Of Enna on the Sea isle, and of Fand, The princess who made many a brave heart burn, Neim, Fea, and Fininda of the strand, -She lived to see her sorrows pass away And marry three good husbands in her day! 7

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154 BLAN ID. "Arise, 0 darling of my lieart arise! A mother I will prove to thee erelong Far better than thy foster : dame, though wise Tenfold she looks there by the bulwark strong Sitting and gazing on us! Lift thine eyes And kiss me, dearest! Woe and bitter wrong May crush thee, yet, than me, thou 'lt never find A mother, sister, friend, more fond and kind l But still no softening tears her eyes would bless, Till rose a light wind on the silver sea Singing amidst the sails : then her distress Seemed as a thing far off, and dreamily All things grew mixed, as in her weariness She laid her bright head on her fosterer's knee And slept till morning broke, then up she sat And moaned again, but yet no comfort gat.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 155 And merrily hummed its song the galley's prore As fast it clave the blue sea's glassy plain, And through a winding inlet neared a shore Whose sunny woods smelt fresh from recent rain. Thereon they disembarked; then seaward bore The lordly galley o'er the waves again, Till far away sankdown its tall mast's stem, And left the Nameless Knight alone with them. There spread a lovely bank 'twixt wave and wood Prankt o'er with sea-pink and blue violet, 'And there she sat a space in vacant mood And saw the flowers with hard eyes still unwet; Then a fond memory came and brought the bloofl Into her cheeks, and then a fierce regret For her lost home and all her happy years Burned in her heart, but yet she shed no tears

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BLAN ID. Like to a startled, mournful mountain erne That sees its only fledgling droop and die, And flaps her wings and screams along the fern, The foster-dame looked in that haggard eye With mother's heart that sore did yearn, clapped her hands and raised a woful cry Of sorrow, as one wails above the dead, But still no answering tears yo ung Blanid shed Whereat the great Knight smote his sounding shield With deafening clang, and raised his voice aloud, And from the shelter of the leafy weald A tall squire led a war-horse prancing proud With brass-shod hoofs adown the flowery field, And head-plumes glancing like a tawny cloud, And jangling rein and red eaparison, And glittering selle a King might sit upon.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. l57 And after him another squire there came Leading an ambling palfrey white as snow, Fit for some princess or imperial dame, With arched neck and stately pace and slow, With many a gem its bridle bright aflame, With pearls of price its saddle all aglow, Its housings azure and cloth of gold, A wonder and heart-gladness to behold! Then other squires came forth with many steeds, Varlets with sumpter mules, and everything That thirst might yearn for, or that hunger needs, In depths of woods anCl far-off journeying ; And soon the bank's green grass and flowery weeds Smelt of the sweet repast, and in a ring Sat they around, maids foster-dame, and squire, And feasted there to each one s heart s desire,

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BLAN ID. Satre the bright Maid. Listless and sad she ate Her bitter crust without a sob or sigh, As one who dreams some doom all desolate Holds her in thrall she knows not where or why; Then strong Fe_ rkertne took his harp and sate Before her, and awoke with fervor high A melody would raise one from the tomb To melt her heart, but yet no tears would come! Whereat Ferkertne whispered," 0 thou flower Of constant womanhood, another strain. May strike thy heart! One. day m wildwood bower I heard the man thou lovest sore complain, Singing to thee, as though by some God's power Thou wert beside him, while beyond the main In Mana's halls thou wert His words I '11 sing To ope thy laden heart, thy tears to bring:-

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. SONG. "When the winds in the wood are still, And the lake sleeps calm in the hollow, And the moon pours over the hill Her light upon glade and tree, I sit by the sparkling rill And my thoughts the fleet waves follow Like the flight of the early swallow To the summer of love and thee. In the sapphire and rose of dawn When the lark from his nest is springing, And the dappled deer and the fawn Come down to the wood-stream's shore, I stand on the dew-bright lawn, And list to the skylark's singing, And think of thy sweet voice bringing Its thrill to my heart once more. When the west is purple and red With the glory of sunset dying, And the waves to the sky outspread In the tremulous splendors burn, 159

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16o BLANID. I stray by the ocean bed, The sea-birds around me flying, And think in my sadness, Of the hours that will ne'er return. "In the flight of the winged hour, In the changing of moon and season, The seed upsprings in the flower, And the flower 'neath the cold blast dies : There is change in the Sun-God's power, There is death in the wind's unreason, -In a woman's heart is there treason? Is there falsehood in woman's eyes? "I prayed to the Gods at noon That thou wouldst not hate or fear me, I asked of the Gods a boon And they answered mine eager cry, For a Voice in the wind of June It answered that thou dost hear me, That thou in thy thoughts art near me However the hours flit by

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THE TEARS OF BLANID. 161 Still stubborn sat the Bright One, space Looking as though some dreadful shape up sprang Before her, blotting out the sunny pl
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BLAN ID. Then, as an April morn awakes all red With blushes bright, to end in glistening showers, The crimson from her heart her cheeks o'erspread, Her breast heaved, and she dropt amid the flowers And swooned awhile, then woke and raised her head, Like the young Moon within her silver bowers. And torn with grief and racked with many fears, She wept but got no comfort from her tears Then heavy trouble fell on Ferkertne, He knew not why, but as he gazed on her Strange voices whispered to him, "Thou art he That lovest her the -and thoughts would stir Within his brain and through his strong heart flee, Shaking him as the hill-wind shakes the fir, As mpurnfully he sat there till the sound And bustling for departure echoed round.

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THE TEARS OF BLANID: 163 Soon mounted they, and 'mid the forest green Went downward through the breezy perfumed dells, And sweetly the strong-towering trunks between Came back the tinkling of the palfrey's bells On the light wind, while flashed the sunlight sheen From spears and swords and fluttering pennoncels And caps and plumes and braveries golden gay, Till through the wild-woods south they passed away.

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BLAN ID. THE HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. Q LOVE 0 love Ofttimes a bitter guest, Ofttimes a golden joy without a stain, Lord of hard grief, of anger and unrest, Gift-giver pf bright pleasure after pain; 0 thou whose breath warmeth the hardened breast As wintry frosts by spring's sweet winds and rain, There's blood 1,lpon thine arrows warm and red! And why art thou with vengeance still unfed?

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HUNTING. OF. THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 165 For where erstwhile thy sunny garden grew A pleasaunce of delight naught seemed to chill, Decked with all flowers that ever drank the dew, Vocal with bird and breeze and singing rill, Now nothing meets thy mournful victim's view But desert sand and rock and fierce-browed hill, Naked and grim, with clouds of gloom o'erspread Pouring misfortune's rain upon his head! With heart forlorn his galley's deck he trode And sailed the sea to high Dun Dalgan's hall ; Nor long within its chambers he abode, But with sweet hopes all changed to bitter gall, And sorrow darkening his lonely road, He sought the hills, that song of waterfall And breeze within the wood and wild-birds' strain Might wake to gladness his sad heart again.

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166 BLANID. But though the wild-birds sang their sweetest lays, Though all the forest flowers bloomed in their prime, And the sweet winds beneath the summer rays Played 'mid the whispering leaves their lulling chime, Though many a brooklet down greenwood maze Danced in blithe gladness, yet nor change nor time Could end his care or lighten his sad woe, Howe' er the birds might sing or breezes blow! One day as he rode downward through a glen Whose sparkling stream made music as he sped, He came on hurrying groups of armed men Marching along the winding path that led Around a rock-encircled gloomy fen Unto a village green, whereon, adread Of something strange they halted, each one's hand Grasping with nervous grip the spear or brand.

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HUNTING OF THE. WOLF OF BIERNA. 167 And there the priests were from the neighboring shrine, The villagers around them, young and old, Who, when they saw Cuhullin's harness shine Anear them with its links of brass and gold, Knew him for their own prince, and as strong wine Makes the faint-hearted ofttimes overbold, His presence raised their hearts, and boisterously They shouted like the roaring of the sea. Then one came nigh and said, "0 prince and lord Of this qur land and home, the Gods at last Take pity on our state, with one accord Sending thee to us, and our woe is past When thou, 0 hero helpest. By the ford Of Bierna, where the black flood hurries fast Out of the fen, there dwells a monster dire Whose wrath consumes us like a forest fire!

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168 BLANID. And how he came we know not, but one day The birds sat still in garden, grove, and wood, Till the dark night fell, then each branch and spray Resounded with a weird, alarming flood Of music from their throats; and when the gray Of Morn came, a great storm-cloud red as blood Rose in the east, and down the glen there bore Seven ravens with their long beaks dripping gore. And then the storm came rending sky and earth, And a thick darkness with it, and the flame Of lightning split in its demoniac mirth Yon sacred tree, and from the ford there came Roaring a monstrous wolf, that J?.e' er had birth Save from the nether Gods without a name, And into my fair brother's cottage burst And slew him, child and wife, with jaws accurst I

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA 169 And since each night he rushes from his lair, Slaying both child and man ; and shield and spear Seem naught against him, and the young and fair Sweet morsels are to him, and thus we fear, 0 prince! his vengeance fell, though trembling care Will leave our doubting hearts now thou art here To rid us of the pest; but hark the moan Of the bereaved ones for their joys o'erthrown FIRSf PRIEST. The Pest of the Fiends hath won us, The Bringer of woe is nigh, No friendly Gods smile on us, Or list to our wail and cry Our word is the foam that flashes Down the torrent, to fade and pass, Our prayers are but dust and ashes, Our wish is the withered grass 8

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170 BLANID. SECOND PRIEST. He was born by the fen's black mirror, The offspring of Doom and Hate, He was cradled in the cave of Terror, And nursed at the dugs of Fate We chatter with fear, like sparrows When the adder stirs by the wall, For our threats are as pointless arrows 'Gainst the thews of his strength to fall ; And we pray with the hate hate nurses Till our vision with rage is dim, And our mouths foam over with curses To wither him, heart and limb; But some fiend of the fiends hath fenced him, Hath strengthened him, fang and claw, And our curses are naught against him, And our prayers are but chaff and straw CHIEF OF THE VILLAGE. My son in the throngs of the valiant was valiant where cowered the brave, He grew like the shaft of the pine-tree that towers by Beraran's dark wave;

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 171 On the ridge of the fore-front of battle, like the moon through the dust shone his targe, And the prince of the land was his comrade, as his long spear came up to the charge No more will he follow his lord to the conquest of isles and of coasts, No more where the firm earth is shaken by the shout and the charging of hosts 'Gainst his shield will the javelins clatter, or the light arrows whirr through his plume, For his bones strew the black ford of Bierna, and his flesh feeds the fierce Thing of doom FIRST MOTHER. As a bud in a land of roses My little one grew, As the violet Morn uncloses, His eyes of blue ; As the harps 'neath the golden rafter Of the King with the flutes combine, Was the voice of his silvery laughter To this desolate heart of mine

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172 BLANID. Alas for the tender blossom Of bloom and light Alas for the mother's bosom That once was bright! The brook in the woodland dances, The sunbeams shimmer and bum, But the rapture of my love's glances Will ne'er to my heart return SECOND MOTHER. As a twig of the catkined willow My loved one bloomed at my side, She was pure as the moon's white pillow Of cloud o'er the ocean tide; She was winsome and bright and bonny As the lily by Bana's lake, She was sweet as the sweet wild honey The bees in the gold moss make ; Her mouth was a rose unfolden With the glory of morning smit,

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BI.ERNA. 173 Her hair as the corn was golden By the tawn of the Autumn lit : Her voice was the throstle's singing At even from Lora's bowers, Her breath was the wood breeze bringing The joy of unnumbered flowers; But alas and alas that never Again will her hand clasp mine Alas for the fateful Riever And woe for the Wrath divine I Then thronged they round the hero and they cried, Deliverer, by the good Gods sent! 0 thou That comest in the glory and the pride Of thy young manhood, with thy sunlike brow Beaming on us the look that never lied Of hope and comfort, in thy valiance now Strike for us Strike! and rid us of the Pest Hurled on us by the nether Gods unblest

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174 BLANID. Then called the hero to him a young man Who sat a strong gray horse and held a spear In his firm grasp. "The winds this morn that ran Over the fen where dwells this thing of fear Not swifter sped than thou must scour the span 'Tween this and high Dun Dalgan, and bring here Lia Macha from her brazen stall, and him, Barana of the light and powerful limb! "Bring hither the three giants ta' en by me The day we plundered Mana for my spoil, With their three brazen flails, and Aranie, My Poet, and the three hounds, Dil and Goil And Brena, and the Skimmer of the .-It Loy the strong charioteer, and in the toil Of the loud roaring chase, or in his den, We'll meet and slay this monster of the fen!"

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 175 Away the young man sped, and loud again Cuhullin cried, Go to your homes and sleep The sleep of safety ; and I too am fain To slumber! Let this old man watch, and weep Beside me for his son till on the plain Eve's shadows fall; then I will rise and keep Watch for you through the night with spear and sword 'Gainst the dread Fiend by Bierna's gloomy ford!" With that he sprang from off his horse, and lay Under the riven tree, and closed his eyes In slumber, while the old man sat all day Wringing his hands and moaning with low cries For his dead son, till when the twilight gray Crept round the hills and from the golden skies The sun went down, he cried, "0 hero, wake! And watch by blood-stained Bierna for our sake

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BLAN ID. And all that night he watched before the cave Of Bierna, by the black ford, and anon Taunted the Fiend within, and three times drave His horse half 'cross the ford, and three times spun His spear into the air and caught its stave Shouting as it came down, and when the sun In pink and saffron robed the rising morn He heard from th' eastern hill gap Loy's blithe horn. Then back unto the village green he sped And waited, but not long, till from the wood Came Loy and Aranie, and with them led Lia Macha and Barana, and the brood Of Shrang, the three great hounds, black, tawn, and red, Brena and Dil and Goil, and those that stood Like three strong towers, the giants that he won In Mana when the gory sack was done.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 177 There stood they with their brazen flails and smiled With joy to meet their master, while around The three great dogs of chase in circles wild Scampered with gladness o'er the smooth green ground, And loud Barana whinnied when the mild Kind accents of his master with sweet sound Fell on his ears, and eager for the fight Lia Macha neighed and shook her trappings bright. Then cried he to the villagers once more, Go to your homes, and, shut therein, abide Praying unto the Gods, while to the shore Of the black fen I and my people ride To rid you of the Pest; and where before You groaned in dull despair, the welcome tide Of joy may flood your hearts!" -and off he rode With his stout following for the Fiend's abode. 8 L

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178 BLAN ID. There leapt he from Lia Macha where the fen Spewed out its sullen flood, and with a look Of import dread he eyed the monster's den, And, raising high his spear, its shaft he shook Defiant; then advanced the giant men With their bright brazen flails across the brook, Shouting in tones whereat the rugged hills Trembled with all their forests, lakes, and rills I Before den there rose a savage brake Of copse and woven w.ood of thorn, wherethrough No man could rush, and there, a path to make, Around the. giants' heads the bright flails flew; And as strong husbandmen with scythes that take The meadow grass and all its glories strew Around them, with their flashing flails of wrath Up to the den they mowed their master's path.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 179 Then laughing they returned across the stream, And pointed to the cave, wherefrom the eyes Of the dread Monster blazed, as like a dream Of terror he lay crouched, his demon size Half filling the dark cavern. As a beam Of sunlight darting or the b olt that flies O 'er the flat meadow from the storm-cloud sent Cuhullin 'cross the ford now rushing went, And leapt upon the bank with armed feet, Nimble, and up the path of beaten sedge Left by the giants' flails, strong, fierce, and fleet He rushed, keen looking o'er his targe's edge ,, On the huge wolf that now sprang forth to meet His coming like the falling of a In Barna, mixing as he thundered out His howling with the hero's mighty shout.

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180 BLAN ID. 'Gainst the great shield he struck and as a wave That plunges from the firm sea-rock, aside Glanced from the graven disk, and, bounding, clave With his strong breast the black ford's muddy tide; Then up the other bank through blow of glaive And lash of flail and dart of javelin tried In many a fray, he rushed, and headlong sped Down the broad track that to the village led. And after him with dreadful clash and clang Cuhullin rode, swift Loy and Aranie At his left arm, and loud their harness rang As their fleet-footed steeds swept down the lea On the wolf s furious track, that growled and sprang Before them, past the lightning-riven tree, Under thick dust-clouds through the village street, And outward o'er the meadows cool and sweet!

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 181 The peasant cowered behind his garden wall As they went by; the children from their play Fled in blind terror, screaming one and all As the wild hurricane passed on by spray Of falling brook, by mead, by cot and hall, By rock and hill, by wood and shore, till Day His golden hand with Night's black palm did j c in On level meads beside the fishful Boyne There in the midmost of a meadow rose A sacred fane to Gods whom no one knew So old it was, and there like virgin snows A flock of sheep lay nigh it with the dew Falling on their white fleeces, while with nose Half buried in the grass and violets blue, And twisted horns and ears of silver gray, The Patriarch of the flock outside them lay.

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182 BLANID. On him the wolf sprang swift and by the flank Caught him in his fell jaws, and with a bound Carried him o'er the encircling wall, and drank His blood within the fane, where man nor hound Would follow him, while over brake and bank Scattered the panting flock with fear astound ; And there the hunters slept or watched all night, Till the fresh morn made earth and ocean bright. Then with a howl the wolf sprang from the fane And swept the fiat lands with immortal speed, While, close behind, the hunt rushed on again Like the fierce whirlwind that mows the mead And cornfield with its wings of wrath and bane, Away, away, hound, man, and foaming steed, Through Boyne, by Tara's height, by grove and dell, Till the hot noon l?assed by and evening fell

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 183 On the far border of the Bregian plain A gorge there was by ancient earthquakes split Through a hill's heart, and now with crimson stain Its rocks and savage trees were all alit By the descending sun, as the wild train Rushed through its darkening mouth, while, terror-smit, Before them rushed twelve kine with thundering din Up to the cliffs that shut the steep gorge in. There, as Cuhullin neared the dizzy height, And the fierce herd of kine turned round, his prey Sprang on a brindled bull, and, where no light Gleamed thro' a cave anigh that open lay, Ramped in his victim's blood, and, as the bright Sweet dawn awoke, rushed out and made his way 'Neath javelin cast and stroke of swon ; l and flail From the deep gorge and o 'er the open dale.

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BLANID. Away, away through ford and rocky pass Two long days more they sped, till as the noon Of the fourth day died, through a fragrant mass Of foliage green they burst; and there the boon Of Aine lay before them, flowers and grass That drank from light of sun and star and moon Their ever-during loveliness, for there Beside a lake outspread a garden fair. And by the lake upon a knoll there stood A lovely house, whose front with traceries Was beautified, of many-tinted wood, Carven in rose, and the white flower that sees The stars from out the pond, with brilliant-hued Fresh blossoms of the moorlands and the leas And and the meadow's grassy floors, All intertwined round windows, walls, and doors.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 185 And all the knoll was bloom, the garden sweet All bloom and light, as if no Winter there Had ever shown with deadly frowns unmeet His frosty beard, and soft the perfumed air Blew from the lake, as with destructive feet The wolf now rushed o'er lawn and flower-bed fair On to the house, 'neath shaft and javelin whirr,The house and peaceful home of Bras Mac Lir Now Bras Mac Lir a priest of Aine was, Well versed in every rite and mystery Of the bright Goddess, and the gentle laws That govern love and the flower progeny Of earth and sun, and how kind Nature draws Her sustenance from both, and blithe was he, With his fair sons and daughters and his spouse, Within that happy, smiling, sunlit house.

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186 BLAN ID. In the bright sunny chamber sat they now, Sire, wife, and children, while through bank and bed Of flowers the wolf drave as the sharpened plough Through the soft sward, till, his eyes flaming red, He burst into the chamber, every brow Paling at his fell aspect, as with head Savage and huge and grim he crouching lay Glaring on them, ready to spring and slay. Then came the tread of armed feet, and fast Through the door strode Cuhullin, and plunged deep Into the wolf's broad breast his sword, that passed Through heart and lung, ere the fell beast could leap With his sharp fangs upon him ; grim and vast Against the wall he lay, a gory heap, No more to ramp and raven in the blood Of the sad folk by Bierna's gloomy flood!

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 187 Now Bras Mac Lir before his household cried: "0 bright-clad hero, God-sent here to save My dear ones! 'mid thy targe's circle wide I see the eagle soaring o'er his wave, I see the Red Branch, royal Eman's pride Then thou art he who took the option brave Of the short life and glorious, thou art he, Famed through the islands and o'er many a sea!" Then strode the giants through the hall, and bore The dread Thing from the chamber, and afar Amid the woods buried him in his gore In a dark spot where neither light of star Nor moon could reach him, nor the sunbeams pour Their gold up6n his grave, an oaken spar Driven through his heart into the bloody clay,. To bind him in his darksome home alway.

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188 BLANID. Meanwhile the priest cried, "Why thou cam' st I know Chasing this demon Pest: for one bright morn Beside our crystal lake five days ago I saw a train bright as if they were born In fairy-land, where sweetest blossoms blow Upon the mead, to sound of flute and horn, And harp and pipe and tympan, resting there Around a silk pavilion smooth and fair. "And at its door upon a brazen seat A lady sat, fair as the flower that blows In summer when the garden is complete Of blossoms, and the beautiful white rose Laughs in their midst, her ladies at her feet On the cool grass, and like the pine that grows Tallest in Tunnarnara's mountain wood A kingly man of battle by them stood.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 189 "And Fame had come before, and well I knew Great Curoi, and fair Blanid, and their train, And the fond promises 'tween her and you, And thy misfortunes, and her bosom's pain, And I am Aine's priest, and through the blue Of heaven I '11 send my prayers that not in vain Thou comest on the eve of her bright feast To save my house and slay this monstrous beast." Now when the house with perfume and with prayer Was purified, and when the Night divine With all her diamond lamps through th' eastern air Upclomb, and bathed earth in the sacred wine Of slumber and forgetfulness of care, Cuhullin slept, and through the fairy mine Of dream he wandered and in glimpses dim He saw his loved one ever weep for him!

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190 BLANID. At morn he woke and called to Aranie: "Poet and friend through fair or adverse tide, Arise and take my following home with thee, Giants and hounds and all, and there abide Till my return, for only Loy shall be My comrade searching for my promised bride ; For I have dreamt and seen her lovely eyes All drowned in tears for me, and heard her sighs Then Loy and strong Cuhullin sought their steeds, And left the priest 'mid his green leaves em bowered, And to the south all day o'er streams and meads And dales and mosses and great moors they scoured, And at the silent hour when the sun leads His glorious cohorts 'neath the waves, devoured With love and grief, by Loy he laid him down And slept till Morning donned her yellow crown.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 191 And all that day beneath the burning sky Still south they rode swift as the eagle's wings, Till at the eve where rose the mountains high Like a tall circle of old Druid kings Watching the closing of their fire God's e y e Over the crimson waves, by Blama's springs Cuhullin and swift Loy in mournful mood Lay down to sleep within a windless wood. There dreamt he a strange dream, that made him see A sight whereat his heart did throbbing run, A lovely stream that sang melodiously, A meadow o'er which Aine bright had spun Her many-tinted robe of brilliancy, And on its verge a gay pavilion Whose lofty poles and roof 'neath sunset's gold Shone with rare glory over mead and wold!

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BLANID. And by its door he saw his loved one sit With her bower-maids, the squires, and foster dame, And the great Knight, while in a rapturous fit The minstrel took his harp and named her name In a blithe song that caused the wood-birds flit Out from their homes, and for a space made tame The shy brown rabbit with his ears in air, And the red fox that watched him from his lair! But nathless all the sweetness of the lay, He saw in her blue eyes but thoughts of him, He saw her memories were far away In Mana, by the blue lake's bosky rim, And thought he heard her sigh, low murmuring say, Ah me ah me ah me mine eyes are dim With weeping, 0 beloved! why com' st thou not? Am I, thine own, so very soon forgot ?

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 193 "Alas! alas! In joy the sun may rise, Beyond the mountain's ridge in glory set; But of day or night can glad mine eyes, Can charm my soul or cure my heart's regret. Ah me! ah me! why are Love's golden ties Made to be broken ? why, when once we met, Are we two chosen, 0 beloved, to be Parted forever, plunged in misery?" Then daylight died, dark shadows gathered down, And slowly faded all the vision bright, And he awoke. Naught saw he save the brown High hill-tops towering through the ghostly night. Then loud he called on Loy. "By my renown, 0 valiant friend," he said, "I've seen a sight In dream that soon may bring a fateful hour To me and yonder Knight of Caher's tower! 9 M

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194 BLANID. "But rest we while we may: the night is still, And I will think of her I love the best." "May no dark dreams of blighting grief and ill, 0 master mine," said Loy, "disturb thy rest! So slept they side by side, till th' eastern hill Waxed red with morn, and then through his high crest The fresh wind played as swiftly on they sped Down the lone pathway that still southward led. Fair smiled the morning upon Blama's hills, The silver mists curled up from moor and plain, Blithe poured from myriads of joyous bills The wild-birds' songs and mingled with the strain Of murmuring winds and woods and falling rills, As with light heart the lord of Beramain On his fresh couch of fern-leaves oped his eyes, Leapt on his steed and looked upon his prize.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 195 And as he looked he heard a trumpet clear Sound from the northern wood, and then there rode Into the glade a Knight. As he drew near Gay in the sun his gilded armor glowed; Lordly his mien, high raised his glittering spear, Caparisoned in blue his charger strode O'er the green grass, and arched his neck and neighed, And with his jangling bridle champed and played! "Dost know this shield's Red Branch and Soaring Bird, High prince of Beramain ? the stranger said ; And at the voice with flush of anger stirred Stern Curoi his bold question answered, "Where' er Fame's trumpet sounds, or Rumor's heard, That shield is known! But by what black weird led Comes strong Dun Dalgan's prince across my path?" "I come," Cuhullin cried in rising wrath, -

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BLANID. "I come to win back thy misgotten prize, Mine own beloved, the bloom-bright Maid of Man!" "Thou com' st to dye this grass with ruddy dyes Of thy best blood," cried Curoi, "and to ban All knighthood with thy word forsworn! Her eyes Shall see the fight, so let him take who can! Lo! there she stands with her fear-whitened face; Look thy last on her now, and take thy place Then rose the rivalry and hate of years Hot raging in their hearts, as round they went To sunder for the red race of the spears, And as the wind-blown flame burns up the bent On a brown mountain's back that autumn sears, So all kind thoughts of good got banishment From their hard hearts of pride where revelled free Infuriate wrath and burning jealousy. ..

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 197 Meanwhile, as one who on a wreck doth stand That the wide wallowing waves toss to and fro, And sees the saving boat put from the land, Now high, now in the sea-trough sunken low, Trembling 'tween fear and hope, each lily ha!ld Pressed o'er her heart as if to hide her woe, And pale as one who had forsaken life, Young Blanid stood to watch the coming strife Short time she stood and looked with fear-dazed eye, Till each strong knight his lance the level gave, And like the thunder cried his battle cry, And spurred his steed, and 'cross the greensward drave, And as two rounded rocks that standing high Each side a deep sheer dell, when rain-storms lave The soft sands from beneath them, downward break And meet, and with loud shock the firm earth shake,

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BLANID. So on the trembling sward in mid career The heroes met, so each went thundering down, Fierce horse and man ; but yet each valiant spear Had done its work; stern Curoi's helmet crown, Torn off, upon the grass lay glittering near, And through Cuhullin's shield with mighty stowne Curoi's sharp point to the white should'er went And all his glittering mail with blood besprent. Then sprang they to their feet and warily Looked in each other's eyes with look of hate, And crossed their jarring swords, and with bent knee Fought a long time their burning ire to sate, Till like a storm-uprooted stately tree Cuhullin fell, and Curoi stood elate, Eying him as the hunter eyes the boar That fighting falls but yet may rise once more.

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 199 "I '11 slay thee not!" he said, "but this strong man Must free thee from the Gods!" then caught and raised His mighty spear, and then a two-foot span Of the bright brazen bl9od-red point outblazed Beyond a follower's back, that shivering, wan, With fear looked at the fight, -whose eyes death glazed Even as he fell; the varlet stout was he Who in fair Blanid's train came o'er the sea. "I '11 slay thee not, but I will bind thee sore, And rive thee of thy yellow flowing hair, That in the press of knights thou 'It ride no more For many a weary moon of grief and care!" Then loud he called a squire, who with a store Of hempen coils came from the tent, and there With many a knot they bound the luckless knight, And reft him of his yellow locks of light.

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200 BLANID. Trembling against the strong pavilion pole The Bright One leant and watched the bitter fray, Strong hope and terror struggling in her soul As the quick swords clashed in their murderous play; And when she saw her loved one, falling, roll On the red grass, a cry of wild dismay Burst from her, like the last despairing scream Of one who sinks amid the ocean stream. Then o'er the hoof-torn sward she tottering stept, And by his side fell down with dreary moan, And pressed her face to his, and sobbed and wept In a low, wailing voice,-"Mine own! mine own! 0 love! 0 love!" she cried, "why hast thou kept This bloody tryst? Why cam' st thou here alone! Alas the answer in thine eyes I see ; Love brought thee hither, love for me, for me!

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HUNTING OF THE WOLF OF BIERNA. 201 "Why have we loved? Why was thy true heart fed With hopes of bliss ? 0 dear one! but for me 'Mid green Ulidian hills thou now wouldst tread, Chasing the dun deer through the wild-woods free! Now a poor captive liest thou here instead, Bound helpless in these bonds of shame, and he, Thy victor in the contest, mocks thee sore, But in thy shame I love thee more and more! "Fare well farewell! He strikes his sounding shield, But Love is cunning, and Revenge is strong ; Though my weak hand no gleaming sword can wield, Red blood shall flow for this thy shame erelong: Farewell! farewell! The frosts in glade and field vVill nip the flowers, ere thou thy peers among Shalt ride as fits a knight by hill or shore, But in thy shame I love thee more and more!" 9

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202 BLAN ID. "0 loved one," low he said, "what tongue can tell My heart's despair, mine anguish, and my pain To meet thee thus? Alas! farewell, farewell! Fate smites us hard, yet we may meet again!" One moment more, and in her jewelled selle She sat perforce, and 'mid the guardian train Of glimmering spears, oft gazing sadly back, She vanished down the forest's southern track. Then Loy stepped out from the wild tangled wood, And with his dagger reft the bonds away, And deftly from the shoulder wiped the blood, With healing herbs the long torn wound to stay; And free once more Dun Dalgan's hero stood Shamefaced, and like two ghosts that shun the day, Skulking through woods and paths untrod of men, -:fhey sought Ben Borka's friendly peaks again.

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 203 THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. NIGH the great, craggy mountains that each eve, High towering through the calm Momonian sky, In golden cones and pinnacles receive The last red glories from Day's closing eye, From where the silver streams blithe singing leave Their birthplaces amid the summits high, A wilderness slopes downward to the sea That murmurs on its gray beach joyously.

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204 BLAN ID. High towering o'er the tallest pines that wave Their green heads in that blooming summer wold, With towers and battlements and fosses brave, In gray, grim state stands Curoi's castle old, Upon whose front did hoary Time engrave, I Through many a summer's heat and winter's cold, His battle marks, his scars of wasting frost, And rainy storms from the wild sea waves tost. There is a high and lordly chamber there, A broad brown hall hung with quaint draperies That picture ancient Gods of sea and air, Heroes of might, and ships before the breeze, And sylvan feasts, and merry greenwoods fair Where wild things gambol 'neath the rustling trees And hunters range, and o'er its massive doors Hang wolf-brows and the curved teeth of boars.

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 205 And round about its great cyclopean walls Are ranged in dusty state with antlers spread Skulls of the primal elk and brazen mauls And shields for centuries unburnished, Jackets of mail, and banners black as palls That bright in ages gone to victory led, And glaives and spears rusted with ancient gore, Crossed now, but not in conflict as of yore. Now on them steals the yellow morning light, These trophies of great heroes dead and gone, And the huge chamber gradually grows bright And a grim swarthy smile of joy puts on ; As some old forest nook with moss bedight Seems all ablaze with splendor when the sun Looks through its guardian tree-boles, blithe, and fills Its depths with ruddy light from orient hills.

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2o6 BLANID. A window openeth to the sunny bay And the faint breezes of the day new born Lightly with its barbaric draperies play, And from their sleep the twittering eve-birds warn; And there, like two sweet bunches of the May That bloom in light on Doona s fairy thorn, Stand Blanid and young Mora motionless Gazing o'er bay and beach and wilderness. No living thing she sees where' er she looks, Save the white gull its wheeling course that steers, Or o'er the wood the morn-awakened rooks, Or sea-hawk's wing that through the haze appears, Or hermit heron from far inland brooks On one long leg amid the shallow meres Watching the scaly sea tribes, as he stands Like a lone spirit of the silent sands.

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 207 Then wept she to herself awhile, and said Verses from love-lorn poets to relieve Her burning, doubting heart with hope unfed, The more she said, the more to sigh and grieve,-And took her lute, with music sad to wed The verses that some ancient bard did weave To soothe his own heart, or some lover's pain, And thus with dove-like voice she sang her strain:SONG. "Deep in the dell where ferns are growing A fountain springs, And o'er its gentle wavelets flowing And blossoms in the sunshine blowing The sky-lark sings : Oh! how he sings unto his mate Down from the ether blue, While I sit here all desolate And think, beloved, of you

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208 BLANID. 0 happy bird, each hour returning Unto its nest Love's rapture in its bosom burning 0 heart of mine, forever mourning In sore unrest How dear the sky-lark's happy state Beside its lover true, While I, alone, all desolate, Sit here and weep for you Now looked she on the ancient tapestry Whereon the wood was pictured, and therein She saw a little bright-winged bird in glee Singing its voiceless carol sweet and thin On Monad's Mount, upon the sacred Tree Of Life, and then she thought how near akin Her life was to that happy bird's one time, And sang, grief-filled again, the poet's rhyme : -

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. SONG. "The linnet on his leafy bough Sang 0 so clear and sweet When Love my comrade was, but now That Love is gone on winged feet, No more to give my heart good-morrow, What can I with the linnet's song But sadly sit and listen long, And think it full of sorrow? "The throstle at the opening day Sang 0 so sweet and clear In Love's delightful month of May; But now that Love lies cold and drear, What can my heart but sadness borrow? What can I with the warbling note The throstle pipes from his sweet throat But think it full of sorrow? "For Love in life was all I had, Love 0 so fresh and sweet To make my lonely bosom glad, But now, ah never more to meet His sunny smile and dear good-morrow, What can I with this life of mine But muse upon its woes and pine, And think it naught but sorrow?" N 209

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210 BLANID. And still she weeps and still cries mournfully, "He comes not to console my wasting pain! Alas that I have loved Ah, woe is me For the heart's loneliness and longings vain, And promised bliss and wordless misery! I 've seen brown Autumn end his lingering reign, And hoary Winter his white mantle spread O'er the sad earth, with yearning still unfed. I 've seen blithe Springtide change with genial ray The hills' frore pyramids to golden green, But watching in my misery day by day, No sight of my beloved one have I seen ; I've ta' en my silken broidery to allay, Weaving its shining threads, my sorrows keen, My unavailing hopes and bitter fears, But only wet its woof with ceaseless tears!

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 211 "And now gay, Summer with her sunny gleams In royal robes moves through her perfumed bowers, H e r heralds wild-birds' music, songs of streams, And the bees' tiny trumpets 'mid the flowers : Alas, alas, that I have dreamed these dreams And woe is me for love's lost honeyed hours! For while joy reigns around and all is glad In earth and heaven, I -I alone am sad!" The n Mora said, "The hour is drawing nigh, 0 mistress, for the ending of our gloom, The blissful, happy hour when you and I Shall walk through fair Dun Dalgan's groves of bloom As once we walked in Mana, where our sky Was bright with joys that never now illume Our lives, or fill with gladness and delight Our morning and our noontide and our night ) {

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212 BLANID. "There never was a princess yet in story, Captive to some sea rover or some king, Some giant or some miser old and hoary, That did not win at last, when, sweetening Her life with hope of love and all the glory And gladness that her hero's deeds would bring, She saw her star rise from the clouds malign Of black despair, as thou wilt now see thine! "For, as I walked beside the stream that sees At the hill's foot the wild things at their play Round its green banks, and all the mysteries Of the blue heavens, the eve of yesterday, I saw an old man sitting where the trees Bend o'er the tumbling water's diamond spray, With a small harp, a long begrizzled beard, And a great sword that made me half afeard

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. And as I stood irresolute, he cast A kindly look on me and said, Sit here, 0 brown-eyed little beauty, for thou hast 2r3 No cause to shun me and no cause to fear I Sit by this tree that yet will be the mast Of some great ship I am the poet-seer Of him thy mistress loveth, -Aranie Of strong Dun Dalgan by the eastern sea "'Sit by me here and learn this song I sing, And sing it to thy mistress!' and he took His harp and with deft fingers touched its string, And in strange accents like the voiceful brook Three times he sang this song, and made me bring My voice in tune with his, till every nook Of rock and wild-wood with the echoes rang!" And then she took the golden lute and sang: -

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2r4 BLANID. THE MESSAGE. "Is the spirit of gladness dead? Are there naught but regrets and fears? Hath hope from thy bosom fled That thou drownest thine eyes with tears? Wilt thou never, 0 loved one never Grief and thy heart dissever, And gather the roses red Of joy for the after years? "From the troubles that waste and mar Joy and delight are born, Reward stands oft afar, Near are defeat and scorn ; But the steadfast soul hath in it Power that can work and win it, The comfort of hope's bright star In the glow between mirk and morn "True love hath a charmed life, It wakes in the morning air, It walks in the noonday strife, It lives through the midnight's care; And better in hope receive it, In trusting faith believe it, Than die by Griers dread knife Or the arrow of black Despair

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 215 "Then up he stood, and went, and like a dream The whole thing was to me; but now I'll seek The King's bright garden where the fiery beam Of morn doth kiss the rose-bud's ruddy cheek;-Watch from the window, downward by the stream, O'er the blithe forest and the hillside bleak, The strand, the moorland and the glittering mere, For in my heart I know thy love is near!" And Blanid looks From round a looming cape On whose high-towering front the sea-birds sit Guarding their windy homes, a boat doth shape Its course and cross the sunny harbor flit And round a point with sea-caves all agape, Till from its prow, his burnished harness lit By the glad morning sun, with spear in hand And waving plume, a knight springs to the strand.

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216 BLAN/D. Where'er Love's flame with light immortal burns What wondrous instinct in the bosom lies Ah! thus with her, the Bloom-bright One, by turns Her cheeks grow pale, then red as morning skies, For well her heart foreknows whose footstep spurns The white sands far beneath her, and her eyes Shine with unwonted brightness as she sees Cuhullin's long plume waving in the breeze! With red lips parted in a smile more sweet Than roses smile in their first virgin bloom, She turns, her golden-sandalled winsome Tread with light step across the lordly room As though they trod on air, her pulses beat With a strange rapture, and her year of gloom, Like a black vision nigh the morning seen, Seems all forgot, as though it ne'er had been!

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 217 Fast through a secret postern to the wood Out glided she, and down a pathway sped That wound by knolls of heather red as blood, And decked with fresh flowers, to the harbor led, Till by a spreading oak she sudden stood Irresolute, with a strange fear adread, Ancl sat her down in a faint musing fit, And plucked a little flower and gazed on it. And as she looked upon its petals bright She thought of her lost home, her golden bower In Mana, and her days of young delight When she was fresh and pure as that sweet flower; Then sprang she up, and like a dove aflight From the quick forester's keen shaft of power, Adown the path half blind with tears she ran, Till where it reached the beach's sunny span, 10

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218 BLANID. Beyond the wood shade, in the open ray She saw a godlike form all glittering With loving arms outstretched athwart her way; Then felt them closely round her press and cling In fond embrace, and heard a kind voice say, "0 love! 0 love! be this thy welcoming To my true heart!" then faded wood and shore And for a space she saw and heard no more! She woke; 'twas on a bank where o'er them spread A young tree 'tween them and the joyous skies, Upon his mail-clad arm her shining head Was pillowed, and his large gray kingly eyes Looked into hers with love unshadowed By absence or the burning doubt that tries The lover's heart with sevenfold fire: then she, Forgetting for a time her misery,

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THE .MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 2r9 Slowly uprising, round his strong neck flung Her arms, and hid 'gainst his her burning face, And as a wild vine the green woods among Shivers wind-blown against its tree, a space Around him, her strong ref Jge now, she clung Trembling, then sudden sprang from his embrace And stood before him half af eard, haH shy, With drooping form and sad deploring eye. And 0 beloved she cried, think not of me As once, when in the heyday of my fame I won thy heart in virgin purity, -When princes from earth's farthest confines came To court my smiles !-now, now what dost thou see Before thee? A poor wretch of blight and shame, For whom the Fates a dismal doom have wove, His blood-won slave despised, his thrall of love!

PAGE 222

220 BLAN ID. "Ah would this heart were dead, these eyes were blind, At rest from ceaseless torture day by day! -Torture by his fell presence thrice refined; For though he loves in his rough soldier way, I hate him tenfold among all mankind, And, hating, must dissemble as I may, Must cringe and lie, for I am brought so low That pride and truth are conquered by my woe! "Arise then, 0 beloved one! and depart, And leave me to the woes I must endure ; I am not worth thy faith: life hath its smart, But death erelong will come and bring the cure!" He rose, he clasped her to his faithful heart, And fondly cried, "To me thou 'rt bright and pure, 0 love and I will bear thee back with me, And my young bride high honored shalt thou be!"

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THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 221 Ah well for them that Curoi with his knights Is on the southern borders of.his land, Encamped amid the lovely pine-clad heights That rise o'er spreading Carra's silver strand! There roams he, tasting all the fresh delights That woodcraft brings when summer winds are bland, Forgetting his fair prize and her sad lot, And that wronged love revengeful sleepeth not. Again they sat beneath the leafy tree, On the green flowery bank, gaze answering gaze, And word fond word, in love's fresh ecstasy, As once before in those lost happy days Far, far away in l\.fana of the Sea. Thus sat they till the hot noon's torrid rays Smote sea and wood, then down the pathway came Unto their trysting-place the foster-dame.

PAGE 224

222 BLANID. "And art thou come ? she cried, 0 valiant one Hath love o'er thy true heart such wondrous power, That thou in blind desire must heedless run Into the lion's jaws for this poor flower? Alas that ever shone the mocking sun Upon our bootless rage This very hour A courier crossed the bridge on courser light To tell of his great lord's return to-night. "Arise then and depart! His purpose dread I know not, yet I know that naught remains For thee but instant flight, else on her head Will fall his anger, and renewed pains \Nill nve our hearts, and thou on dungeon bed Shalt lie beneath the moat in captive chains Till into black despair thy warm heart sink, Or the red block thy youthful blood shall drink.

PAGE 225

THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 223 "Depart! depart! The hour will yet draw near For love and for thy vengeance long delayed: The Summer flowers bloom bright by stream and mere And wood and crag, but thou must let them fade Thy vengeance still unwon; then Autumn sere Shall come, but when upon the moaning glade Slain by the winds of Winter he expires 'Mid Samhain's feast and sacrificial fires, "Then do thou come, and with thy bravest band Valiant and swift and sure, and here abide Within this secret wood. Then Curoi's sand Of life shall run its last, for I will guide To vengeance sure and stern thine armed hand! Then in his hour of triumph and of pride We '11 slay him as the forest dwellers slay The wolf that bears their best-loved child away!

PAGE 226

224 BLAN ID. "And thou, poor child of many sorrows, lay Thy face against this withered breast of mine To shut from thy sad eyes the woful ray That lights his parting footsteps Gaily shine O'er sea and hill the beams of middle day, And ye must part, and thou must now un twine Thine arms from him, 0 maid!" and shudder ingly, Moaning the while in her great agony, Fair Blanid saw him go. Then as a wreath Of snow at Springtide in the mountain pass Slides from its cleft to the flat sward beneath, So dropt she down upon the woodland grass All motionless, as though she ne'er would breathe Earth's air again. Too soon, too soon, alas! She woke to weep, then rose and weeping still With the old foster-dame went up the hill!

PAGE 227

THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS. 225 Meanwhile Cuhullin plied the rapid oar Of the light boat with gladsome heart an4 fond Across the harbor, round the sea-cape hoar, And into a lone wood-locked cove beyond, Where sprang he lightly to the wave-ribbed shore And up the wild-wood went, Love's golden wand Touching his heart with its sweet sorcery, Till won he where a stream danced fresh and free From ledge to ledge into a glade of green : And there Loy waited, there the twain bestrode Their steeds, and like a dream each changing scene Seemed hurrying by as in hot haste they rode Unto the North, till, as with ray serene Upon the mountain-tops the sunset glowed, They laid them down and slept, and morn again Found them fast speeding o'er the perilous plain. 10* 0

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226 BLANID. THE SLAYING OF CURO I AND THE REVENGE OF HIS MINSTREL GREEN are the hills of early summer-time, And lingering long their emerald glories fade, When Autumn with slow steps begins to climb Their breezy fronts from the brown forest shade, Nipping the grass and flowers with frosty rime, Till long-drawn glen and bosky upland glade, Broad shadowy moor and skyey mountain spire, Put on their heathery robes of purple fire.

PAGE 229

THE SLAYING OF CUROI. 227 And slowly as it comes, it fades away, The glory of the heather's purple glow, Like human grandeur born but to decay As the long years glide on with footsteps slow;-The woods are bare, the hills are cold and gray, The cheerless morns no genial heat bestow ; And thus the earth changed with the changing sun Till Winter and the Samhain feast came on. One day, before the feast, the old dame sat By the bower window of her foster child, And looked upon the northern moorland flat, And saw a horseman spurring from the wild, And laughed, and rubbed her withered hands thereat, And on her foster daughter looked and smiled A crafty smile, exulting as she said, "Behold the first crumb of his bitter bread!

PAGE 230

228 BLAN ID. "I was not born yesterday. I know The wiles of courts, the unstable hearts of men, And this sweet tongue some little seed did sow Within these walls, that have sprung up again In fruit whose baleful taste is war and woe. See the good horseman how he scours the glen! How up the stony path his harness rings Black with fell wrath be all the news he brings!" With clash and clang the horseman passed the gate, With tottering steps he gained the lofty hall, And to the knights assembled 'gan relate How Roving Angus of the Iron Maul Fell upon Lora, wreaking his fierce hate On kith and kin of Ademar the Tall, The bravest knight that e'er in battle tide Put lance in rest by noble Curoi's side.

PAGE 231

THE SLAYING OF CUROI. 229 And soon the northern causeway gleamed with steel, As Ademar went off with all his power, And as the sun with golden chariot-wheel Had sought 'neath crimson clouds his western bower, With dying steed that scarce the spur could feel, Another courier came from Barra s tower To tell unto the knights his tale forlorn How Talc the Pirate sacked it on that morn. Next day a messenger from Brann the Red With gory spur came o'er the eastern moors To tell them how the Hold of Dunigled Was fast besieged by rascal slaves and boors, How scarce its ancient towers in conflict dread Their ruffian war another day endures, And asking for a gallant knightly band With conquering spears to quell their bloody hand.

PAGE 232

230 BLANID. And thus the couriers came ; thus forth they went, The knights and men, to the far border lands, And as an evil sprite from hell upsent The old dame glided round and rubbed her hands, And smiled and leered in her false merriment, And brewed her cruel plot, till of his bands Remained with Curoi only ten good spears When Samhain's sun rose o'er the eastern meres. An hour before the fires were all alight By stead and town, temple, and village green, In worship of the mild Queen of the night, The old dame stole adown the forest screen, Till by a lonely brook that took its flight Murmuring two tangled banks of wood be tween, She found Dun Dalgan's lord in ambush hid With many a mail-clad man the copse amid.

PAGE 233

THE SLAYING OF Cl!ROI. 231 "And 0 thou faithful knight!" she whispered low, The hour is nigh thine own beloved to save; Watch well this sounding stream, and when the glow Thou mark'st of white swan's feathers on its wave That I as signal for the deed shall throw Into its bed above, then bare thy glaive And with thy warriors storm the hold, and slay And work the bitter vengeance as ye may! Meanwhile, as evening o'er the valleys threw Its mantle gray, within his lordly hall Sat the great knight amidst a merry crew Of squires and pages, gladsome one and all; There some with eyes intent the hazard drew, Some the white dice upon the board let fall, Some quaffed the golden mead, some moved the chess, Laughing the while in their full happiness.

PAGE 234

BLAN ID. Stately he sat, a smile on his brown face, As he looked round upon the revelry, His scarlet robe thrown back with kingly grace, His saffron tunic flowing to his knee, With golden belt that showed the cunning trace In gems of monsters of the land and sea, With gorget glittering, and dark locks bare Silvered a little by the helmet's wear. In his right hand he raised a sparkling bowl, And Fill," he said, 0 merry friends of mine, And drink unto the mistress of my soul, Blanid, the peerless one, the dame divine! And though she weep betimes, as seasons roll, May she wax glad again, and may she shine In her bright beauty fresh as roses red That deck the bowers when Winter's dead!"

PAGE 235

THE SLAYING OF CUROI. 233 And she within her bower lay hid, each sound From the far banquet-hall that reached her ear Making her heart with new-fledged terrors bound; While the old foster-dame went far and near From door to doo,r the joyous castle round, And oft into the banquet-hall would peer, Oft to the postern gate would secret go, Watching her time the signal white to throw. And still within the darksome forest glen Cuhullin lay, and watched the darkness come, And all was silent round, save now and then From the bright castle doors would float a hum Of merriment, or from the moory fen The curlew's whistle or the bittern's drum Would sound in.constant, till a breeze blew chill, And the white moon clomb o'er the eastern hill.

PAGE 236

234 BLANID. Then all at once the Samhain fires outblazed To welcome night's mild Empress, bright and high On the round-shouldered mountains some upraised, Some low adown flaring against the sky ; But noting naught of them, Cuhullin gazed Into the darksome waters hurrying by, Starting at every leaf and moonlight gleam That whirled and flashed upon the lonely stream. At length, as higher rose the moon's pale rays Over the withered trees, and on the tide Flickered in flakes of snowy pearl, his gaze Caught the first gleaming of the white swan's pride Floating adown; and as a wolf that stays All night within his lair, and long has eyed Its woodland prey and sees it near, he sprang Unto his feet, and while with mighty clang

PAGE 237

THE SLAYING OF CURO!. 235 Of mail-jacks and of clattering spears, his kin Followed him, 'cross the stream he sprang, and fast Out from the shadow of the dark ravine And up the moonlit hill-sides fierce they passed Unto the castle gate with furious din, And fell on the scant guard, who all aghast Stood at the porch and met the bloody shock Like withered fern before the falling rock. And then, as ocean's tide, wild wave on wave, Driven before the storm, with deafening roar, Hurry, and turmoil fills some yawning cave Tossing its spray on high, so through the door, In one bewildering whirl of plume and glaive, They filled the hall, and with dread shouts down bore The revellers' faint resistance, all save him Who now stood looking on them cold and grim.

PAGE 238

BLAN ID. Against the wall he stood, his eagle eye Glancing around upon the bloody wrack Seeking his foe, then reached his hand on high And seized a brazen maul, and to the attack Like the red lightning-bolt that cleaves the sky He sprang, and, for a moment's space, beat back The hedge of spears, till, drenched with hostile blood, He gained the spot where fierce Cuhullin stood. There from a soldier's arm he tore the targe And poised it o'er his breast with warm blood wet, And with tall knee advanced looked o'er its marge Into his foeman's eyes, and, fearless yet, With a great bound leapt forward to the charge, Shouting his cry of war, but ere they met, Pierced by a score of spears he fell, the tide Of life fast welling from his riven side

PAGE 239

THE SLAYING OF CUROI. Then hard a jackman smote him as he bled, But as the spear-but whirled on high again, Cuhullin sheered away the caitiff's head, 237 And kneeling down in strange remorse and pain By the great knight, "0 man of men he said, "I'd give my life and all my broad domain To see thee as thou wert, my brother true In camp and court ere strife between us grew!" Once moved his lips with words he could not say, Once rolled his eyes his ruined hall around, And he was dead! Upon the hill side gray, High o'er the mournful beach, they made his mound; And as the mountain tops 'neath morning's ray Threw off their circling vapors, northward bound, Cuhullin rode along the woodlands bare With his stout followers and his lady fair.

PAGE 240

238 BLAN ID. Upon the new-raised mound all drearily Sat Curoi's minstrel brooding in his woe, One day that upward moaning from the sea Through the sere wood the wind began to blow: Naught recked he of the wild wind's wrath or glee, For of the mighty man who lay below Sleeping for aye the thoughts would constant rise And swell his heart and blind with tears his eyes. At length he took his harp, and, low at first, Woke its thin voice in mournful preludings; Then high and clear a wailing strain outburst 'Neath his light fingers from the trembling strings; Then frowning with black brows like one athirst For blood and for the joy that vengeance brings, He left the mound, strode down the hill-side gray, And to the north ward took his weary way.

PAGE 241

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. 239 And many a sight he saw by dale and down, Wandering till Winter's snows began to fade From the rejoicing hills, and his renown Preceded him, and wheresoe'er he strayed The people flocked from village, tower, and town To hear the wondrous music that he made On his weird harp, -a thing from heaven down sent, -And crowned him first of bards where'er he went! The village urchin and the maiden shy, The matron staid, the soldier brave and young, The aged carle, stood each with tearful eye And wept betimes at the sad songs he sung; And thus he roamed till day by day the sky Grew warmer, and the budding blossoms hung From the laburnum and the lilac pale, And the young grass in emerald robed the vale.

PAGE 242

BLANID. And day by day, as still he wandered on From side to side, but always north, the hills Grew brighter, o'er the breezy moorlands dun The young lambs gambolled, and the streams and rills Sang songs of gladness, for the amorous sun Kissed them not vainly, till with gentle thrills The warm winds played amidst the opening bowers, And all the meads were gay with Springtide flowers. And Summer came ; the corn-stalks marshalled stood O'er the bright fields in all their greenery, The foxglove's glorious crimson edged the wood, The wild rose laughed, the gleaming apple-tree Showered down its blossoms on the linnet s brood That chirped amid its branches ; glad and free All things o'er Nature's throbbing bosom glowed, Save the fierce minstrel on his weary road.

PAGE 243

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. 241 And as he wandered on, one sunny day, Where four roads crossed within a beechen screen He saw through the thin branches far away The glint of mail-rings and the brassy sheen Of targets and the glow of helmets gay, Of scarlet mantles and of tunics green, And dim beneath the sun-enlivened trees A country multitude surrounding these. And as with weary steps he drew anigh, Four trumpeters on silver trumpets played A melody with long-drawn notes and high, Then a great cymbal-clash wild clamor made; And then a stately man with haughty eye, The king's own herald, m bright robes arrayed, Upraised his truncheon with red gold aflame, And to the wondering people 'gan proclaim: -II p

PAGE 244

242. BLAN ID. 0 men 0 men 0 men pale Death is strong And life is weak ; and, like the withered grass, Before his dreadful scythe the lord of song, The King's own bard, to Death's dim realm did pass Not long ago; and now all things are wrong With the great King, for, like false-sounding brass, Or jarring notes of a cracked virginal, The next bard's songs upon his sad ears fall! "And 'tis for this the silver trumpets blow, For this the brazen cymbals clash and ring, And 'tis for this I wan der to and fro, -To find a bard will please my lord the King; And I have journeyed far, and yet must go Still farther, till to Eman's halls I bring Some wondrous bard, some magic-fingered one, Will please my lord the King like him that's gone!"

PAGE 245

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. 243 Then sat the dust-soiled minstrel sullen down, Unslung his harp and bared its strings of gold Before them all, and, with a troubled frown, Played a light-tinkling prelude, and, behold! Strange bliss the listeners' cares began to drown ; Then voice and harp-notes, mingled sweet, uprolled In a great soul-entrancing wondrous lay That stole the hearts from out their breasts straightway! And when the lay was done, a glad thrill ran Through the great crowd, and high before them all The herald spoke: "0 sweet-tongued, marvellous man, Blest be the day I see thee! Bitter gall Seems the best music that since life began I've heard near thine. Never, in <;:ot or hall, Heard serf, or lord, or lady, one like thee! Arise, and come to the King's house with me!"

PAGE 246

244 BLAN ID. And so it fell the minstrel must abide In the King's house, in gay apparel clad, And many a merry lay he sang belied His inward thoughts, for a sore heart he had. Then came the Beltain feast, when all the pride Of Ulad's nobles came with bosoms glad From many a moated town to Eman's hall At the king's word to hold high festival. And there Cuhullin came; and with him came Bright Blanid, and love's boundless happiness Had blotted from her mind the very name And memory of the bard, yet none the less The dark man with his furtive eyes of flame Eyed her with rage his soul could scarce suppress, As through the gorgeous throng each day she moved In peerless beauty loving and beloved.

PAGE 247

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. 245 Three days the feast went on ; on the fourth morn The glad hawks shook their wings and silver bells In the King's mews, the hounds, that all forlorn In kennel slept, now woke with joyous yells As the King's huntsman wound his echoing horn; And soon both King and court amid the dells With hawk and hound went out to hunt the deer And sta,r:t the heron gray by brook and mere. Three days they hunted; on the third the chase Led them unto the high top of a hill, And there upon a breezy sunlit space They reined their steeds; before them a bright rill Ran through a ferny gorge down th' eastern face Of a steep slope in glittering falls, until It reached a dale, where 'neath man's peaceful reign Spread homesteads, gardens, groves, and fields of grain.

PAGE 248

BLAN ED. Beyond the dale's rich verge, embellished By many a stately tree, a forest grew, Then a broad gleaming moorland far outspread, Wrapped in light azure haze, then to the view A cape raised high its wave-impending head, Then shimmering golden-green and silvery blue, Like a wide mead of Asphodel, the sea Stretched to the heavens its grand immensity. Adown the slope they went, across the plain And thro' the wood and up the cape's proud neck To the flat top, where the soft summer rain Brought from the grass wild-flowers in many a speck. There from their steeds they lighted, and full fain The squires and pages at the blithe King's beck Went to and fro, in merry mood, while fast They pitched the tents and spread the gay repast.

PAGE 249

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. 247 And as they sat, in glorious symphony The sea made music, and the summer air 'Played in the branches of each wildwood tree That round the s flat top grew here and there; The heavens shone bright, and midst that company The mead went round in jewelled goblets rare, The wine-cup sparkled, eyes met loving eyes, And young hearts throbbed, and laughter gay did rise. Then some to cull the mountain flowers would go, Some danced upon the sward, within the tent Some hid them from the noontide sultry glow, Some plied the wine-cup in light merriment; And she, the Bloom-bright One, now wandered slow Down to the cape's impending verge, and leant Against an aged thorn that drooping stood Through many a changing year o'er ocean's flood.

PAGE 250

BLAN ID. Pensive she stood against the mossy stem In her full joy, the roses of life's May Tingeing her cheeks once more, many a gem Sparkling within her tresses golden gay; Over the waves she leant, and looked on them As one who on a village green the play Of children sees, and smiles as memory Brings back some glimpse of childhood and its glee. Anigh her sat the bard, his dark head bare, His wild keen eyes with a strange brightness filled, The sea-breeze blowing through his curling hair, The sunshine gleaming as if but to gild His harpframe richly wrought; and smiling there Anon the King came down, then sweetly thrilled The music, and the courtiers gathered round To hear the wondrous bard his harp-'Strings sound

PAGE 251

REVENGE OF THE MINSTREL. Then soft he touched the strings and made them speak In low love music, whose delightful tone Deepened the roses red on Blanid's cheek, Now like high trumpets on a war-field blown He clashed the wires and sang, then low and weak In dying sobs the melody did moan, Then voice and strings broke forth in one wild wail Of woe, that up the bright heaven seemed to sail! l'.P sprang he then, his eyes with rage alight, And dashed his harp down with a crashing clang, And clutched the Bright One, and ere lord or knight Could rush between them, o'er the cliff he sprang, Clutching her closely still! Along the height His last weird shout of vengeance lessening rang, As far beneath amid the breakers' roar They disappeared, and ne'er were looked on more! THE END.


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