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TYNAN, Katharine

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

There's music in my heart all day,

I hear it late and early,

It comes from fields are far away,

The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the uplands drenched with dew

The sky hangs soft and pearly,

An emerald world is listening to

The wind that shakes the barley.

Above the bluest mountain crest

The lark is singing rarely,

It rocks the singer into rest,

The wind that shakes the barley.

Oh, still through summers and through springs

It calls me late and early.

Come home, come home, come home, it sings,

The wind that shakes the barley.

Wild Geese

(A Lament for the Irish Jacobites.)

I have heard the curlew crying

On a lonely moor and mere;

And the sea-gull's shriek in the gloaming

Is a lonely sound in the ear:

And I've heard the brown thrush mourning

For her children stolen away;--

But it's O for the homeless Wild Geese

That sailed ere the dawn of day!

For the curlew out on the moorland

Hath five fine eggs in the nest;

And the thrush will get her a new love

And sing her song with the best.

As the swallow flies to the Summer

Will the gull return to the sea:

But never the wings of the Wild Geese

Will flash over seas to me.

And 'tis ill to be roaming, roaming

With homesick heart in the breast!

And how long I've looked for your coming,

And my heart is the empty nest!

O sore in the land of the stranger

They'll pine for the land far away!

But day of Aughrim, my sorrow,

It was you was the bitter day!


So I have sunk my roots in earth

Since that my pretty boys had birth;

And fear no more the grave and gloom,

I, with the centuries to come.

As the tree blossoms so bloom I,

Flinging wild branches to the sky;

Renew each year my leafy suit,

Strike with the years a deeper root.

Shelter a thousand birds to be,

A thousand herds give praise to me;

And in my kind and grateful shade

How many a weary head be laid.

I clothe myself without a stain.

In me a child is born again,

A child that looks with innocent eyes

On a new world with glad surprise.

The old mistakes are all undone,

All the old sins are purged and gone.

Old wounds and scars have left no trace,

There are no lines in this young face.

To hear the cuckoo the first time,

And 'mid new roses in the prime

To read the poets newly. This,

Year after year, shall be my bliss.

Of me shall love be born anew;

I shall be loved and lover too;

Years after this poor body has died

Shall be the bridegroom and the bride.

Of me shall mothers spring to know

The mother's bliss, the mother's woe;

And children's children yet to be

Shall learn their prayers about my knee.

And many million lights of home

Shall light for me the time to come.

Unto me much shall be forgiven,

I that make many souls for heaven.

The Doves

The house where I was born,

Where I was young and gay,

Grows old amid its corn,

Amid its scented hay.

Moan of the cushat dove,

In silence rich and deep;

The old head I love

Nods to its quiet sleep.

Where once were nine and ten

Now two keep house together;

The doves moan and complain

All day in the still weather.

What wind, bitter and great,

Has swept the country's face,

Altered, made desolate

The heart-remembered place ?

What wind, bitter and wild,

Has swept the towering trees

Beneath whose shade a child

Long since gathered heartease ?

Under the golden eaves

The house is still and sad,

As though it grieves and grieves

For many a lass and lad.

The cushat doves complain

All day in the still weather;

Where once were nine or ten

But two keep house together.

The Children Of Lir

Out upon the sand-dunes thrive the coarse long grasses;

Herons standing knee-deep in the brackish pool;

Overhead the sunset fire and flame amasses

And the moon to eastward rises pale and cool.

Rose and green around her, silver-gray and pearly,

Chequered with the black rooks flying home to bed;

For, to wake at daybreak, birds must couch them early:

And the day's a long one since the dawn was red.

On the chilly lakelet, in that pleasant gloaming,

See the sad swans sailing: they shall have no rest:

Never a voice to greet them save the bittern's booming

Where the ghostly sallows sway against the West.

'Sister,' saith the gray swan, 'Sister, I am weary,'

Turning to the white swan wet, despairing eyes;

'O' she saith, 'my young one! O' she saith, 'my dearie !'

Casts her wings about him with a storm of cries.

Woe for Lir's sweet children whom their vile stepmother

Glamoured with her witch-spells for a thousand years;

Died their father raving, on his throne another,

Blind before the end came from the burning tears.

Long the swans have wandered over lake and river;

Gone is all the glory of the race of Lir:

Gone and long forgotten like a dream of fever:

But the swans remember the sweet days that were.

Hugh, the black and white swan with the beauteous feathers,

Fiachra, the black swan with the emerald breast,

Conn, the youngest, dearest, sheltered in all weathers,

Him his snow-white sister loves the tenderest.

These her mother gave her as she lay a-dying;

To her faithful keeping; faithful hath she been,

With her wings spread o'er them when the tempest's crying,

And her songs so hopeful when the sky's serene.

Other swans have nests made 'mid the reeds and rushes,

Lined with downy feathers where the cygnets sleep

Dreaming, if a bird dreams, till the daylight blushes,

Then they sail out swiftly on the current deep.

With the proud swan-father, tall, and strong, and stately,

And the mild swan-mother, grave with household cares,

All well-born and comely, all rejoicing greatly:

Full of honest pleasure is a life like theirs.

But alas ! for my swans with the human nature,

Sick with human longings, starved for human ties,

With their hearts all human cramped to a bird's stature.

And the human weeping in the bird's soft eyes.

Never shall my swans build nests in some green river,

Never fly to Southward in the autumn gray,

Rear no tender children, love no mates for ever;

Robbed alike of bird's joys and of man's are they.

Babbles Conn the youngest, 'Sister, I remember

At my father's palace how I went in silk,

Ate the juicy deer-flesh roasted from the ember,

Drank from golden goblets my child's draught of milk.

Once I rode a-hunting, laughed to see the hurry,

Shouted at the ball-play, on the lake did row;

You had for your beauty gauds that shone so rarely.'

'Peace' saith Fionnuala, 'that was long ago.'

'Sister,' saith Fiachra, 'well do I remember

How the flaming torches lit the banquet-hall,

And the fire leapt skyward in the mid-December,

And among the rushes slept our staghounds tall.

By our father's right hand you sat shyly gazing,

Smiling half and sighing, with your eyes a-glow,

As the bards sang loudly all your beauty praising. '

'Peace,' saith Fionnuala, 'that was long ago.'

'Sister,' then saith Hugh 'most do I remember

One I called my brother, one, earth's goodliest man,

Strong as forest oaks are where the wild vines clamber,

First at feast or hunting, in the battle's van.

Angus, you were handsome, wise, and true, and tender,

Loved by every comrade, feared by every foe:

Low, low, lies your beauty, all forgot your splendour.'

'Peace,' saith Fionnuala, 'that was long ago.'

Dews are in the clear air and the roselight paling;

Over sands and sedges shines the evening star;

And the moon's disc lonely high in heaven is sailing;

Silvered all the spear-heads of the rushes are.

Housed warm are all things as the night grows colder,

Water-fowl and sky-fowl dreamless in the nest;

But the swans go drifting, drooping wing and shoulder

Cleaving the still water where the fishes rest.