OH ! once the harp of Innisfail
Was strung full high to notes of gladness ;
But yet it often told a tale
Of more prevailing sadness.
Sad was the note, and wild its fall,
As winds that moan at night forlorn
Along the isles of Fion-Gall,
When, for O’Connor’s child to mourn,
The harper told, how lone, how far
From any mansion’s twinkling star,
From any path of social men,
Or voice, but from the fox’s den,
The lady in the desert dwelt 5
And yet no wrongs, nor fears she felt :
Say, why should dwell in place so wild,
O’Connor’s pale and lovely child ?
Sweet lady ! she no more inspires
Green Erin’s hearts with beauty’s power,
As, in the palace of her sires,
She bloomed a peerless flower.
Gone from her hand and bosom, gone,
The royal broche, the jewelled ring,
That o’er her dazzling whiteness shone,
Like dews on lilies of the spring.
Yet why, though fall’n her brother’s kerne,
Beneath De Bourgo’s battle stern,
While yet in Leinster unexplored,
Her friends survive the English sword ;
Why lingers she from Erin’s host,
So far on Galway’s shipwrecked coast ;
Why wanders she a huntress wild
O’Connor’s pale and lovely child ?
And fixed on empty space, why burn
Her eyes with momentary wildness ;
And wherefore do they then return
To more than woman’s mildness ?
Dishevelled are her raven locks ;
On Connocht Moran’s name she calls ;
And oft amidst the lonely rocks
She sings sweet madrigals.
Placed ‘midst the foxglove and the mosSj
Behold a parted warrior 7 s cross !
That is the spot where, evermore,
The lady, at her shieling door,
Enjoys that, in communion sweet,
The living and the dead can meet,
For, lo ! to love-lorn fantasy,
The hero of her heart is nigh.
Bright as the bow that spans the storm,
In Erin’s yellow vesture clad,
A son of fight a lovely form,
He comes and makes her glad ;
Now on the grass-green turf he sits,
His tasselled horn beside him laid ;
Now o’er the hills in chase he flits,
The hunter and the deer a shade !
Sweet mourner ! these are shadows vain
That cross the twilight of her brain ;
Yet she will tell you, she is blest,
Of Connocht Moran’s tomb possessed,
More richly than in Aghrim’s bower.
When bards high praised her beauty’s power,
And kneeling pages offered up
The morat in a golden cup.
” A hero’s bride ! this desert bower, .
It ill befits, thy gentle breeding :
And wherefore dost thou love this flower
To call ‘My love lies bleeding”?'”
” This purple flower my tears have nursed
A hero’s blood supplied its bloom :
I love it, for it was the first
That grew on Connocht Moran’s tomb.
Oh ! hearken, stranger, to my voice !
This desert mansion is my choice !
And blest, though fatal, be the star
That led me to its wilds afar :
For here these pathless mountains free
Gave shelter to my love and me ;
And every rock and every stone
Bore witness that he was my own.
O’Connor’s child, I was the bud
Of Erin’s royal tree of glory ;
But woe to them that wrapt in blood
The tissue of my story !
Still as I clasp my burning brain,
A death-scene rushes on my sight ;
It rises o’er and o’er again,
The bloody feud the fatal night,
When chafing Connocht Moran’s scorn,
They called my hero basely bora ;
And bade him chose a meaner bride
Than from O’Connor’s house of pride.
Their tribe, they said, their high degree,
Was sung in Tara’s psaltery ;
Witness their Eath’s victorious brand,
And Cathal of the bloody hand ;
Glory (they said) and power and honor
Were in the mansion of O’Connor :
But he, my loved one, bore in field
A humbler crest, a meaner shield.
Ah, brothers ! what did it avail,
That fiercely and triumphantly
Ye fought the English of the Pale,
And stemmed De Bourgo’s chivalry !
And what was it to love and me,
That barons by your standard rode ;
Or beal-fires for your jubilee
Upon a hundred mountains glowed ?
What though the lords of tower and dome
From Shannon to the North-sea foam,
Thought ye your iron hands of pride
Could break the knot that love had tied ?
No : let the eagle change his plume,
The leaf its hue, the flower its bloom ;
But ties around this heart were spun,
That could not, would not, be undone !
At bleating of the wild watch-fold
Thus sang my love ‘ Oh, come with me :
Our bark is on the lake, behold
Our steeds are fastened to the tree.
Come far from Castle-Connor’s clans :
Come with thy belted forestere,
And I, beside the lake of swans,
Shall hunt for thee the fallow-deer ;
And build thy hut, and bring thee home
The wild-fowl and the honey-comb ;
And berries from the wood provide,
And play my clarshech by thy side.
Then come, my love !’ How could I stay ?
Our nimble stag-hounds tracked the way,
And I pursued, by moonless skies,
The light of Connocht Moran’s eyes.
And/fast and far, before the star
Of day-spring, rushed we through the glade,
And saw at dawn the lofty bawn
Of Castle-Connor fade.
Sweet was to us the hermitage
Of this unploughed, untrodden shore ;
Like birds all joyous from the cage,
For man’s neglect we loved it more.
And well he knew, my huntsman dear,
To search the game with hawk and spear ;
While I, his evening food to dress,
Would sing to him in happiness.
But, oh, that midnight of despair !
When I was doomed to rend my hair :
The night, to me, of shrieking sorrow !
The night to him, that had no morrow !
When all was hushed at even tide,
I heard the baying of their beagle :
Be hushed ! my Connocht Moran cried,
T is but the screaming of the eagle.
Alas ! ‘t was not the eyrie’s sound ;
Their bloody bands had tracked us out ;
Up-listening starts our couchant hound
And, hark ! again, that nearer shout
Brings faster on the murderers.
Spare spare him Brazil Desmond fierce !
In vain no voice the adder charms ;
Their weapons crossed my sheltering arms :
Another’s sword has laid him low
Another’s and another’s ;
And every hand that dealt the blow
Ah me ! it was a brother’s !
Yes, when his meanings died away,
Their iron hands had dug the clay,
And o’er his burial turf they trod,
And I beheld oh God! oh God!
His life-blood oozing from the sod.
Warm in his death-wounds sepulchred,
Alas ! my warrior’s spirit brave
Nor mass nor ulla-lulla heard,
Lamenting, soothe his grave.
Dragged tc their hated mansion back,
How long in thraldom’s grasp I lay
I know not, for my soul was black,
And knew no change of night or day.
One night of horror round me grew ;
Or if I saw, or felt, or knew,
7 T was but when those grim visages,
. The angry brothers of my race,
Glared on each eye-ball’s aching throb,
And check my bosom’s power to sob,
Or when my heart with pulses drear
JBeat like a death-watch to my ear.
But Heaven, at last, my soul’s eclipse
Did with a vision bright inspire ;
I woke and felt upon my lips
A prophetess’s, fire.
Thrice in the east a war-drum beat,
I heard the Saxon’s trumpet sound,
And ranged, as to the judgment-seat,
My guilty, trembling brothers round,
Clad in the helm and shield they came
For now De Bourgo’s sword and flame
Had ravaged Ulster’s boundaries,
And lighted up the midnight skies.
The standard of O’Connor’s sway
Was in the turret where I lay ;
That standard, with so dire a look,
As ghastly shone the moon and pale,
I gave that every bosom shook
Beneath its iron mail.
And go ! (I cried) the combat seek,
Ye hearts that unappalled bore
The anguish of a sister’s shriek,
Go ! and return no more !
For sooner guilt the ordeal brand
Shall grasp unhurt, than ye shall hold
The banner with victorious hand,
Beneath a sister’s curse unrolled.
stranger ! by my country’s loss !
And by my love ! and by the cross !
1 swear I never could have spoke
The curse that severed nature’s yoke,
But that a spirit o’er me stood,
And fired me with the wrathful mood ;
And frenzy to my heart was given,
To speak the malison of Heaven.
They would have crossed themselves, all mute ;
They would have prayed to burst the spell j
But at the stamping of my foot
Each hand down powerless fell !
And go to Athunree ! (I cried)
High lift the banner of your pride !
But know that where its sheet unrolls,
The weight of blood is on your souls !
Go where the havoc of your kerne
Shall float as high as mountain fern !
Men shall no more your mansion know j
The nettles on your heart shall grow !
Dead, as the green oblivious flood
That mantles by your walls, shall be
The glory of O’Connor’s blood !
Away ! away to Athunree !
Where, downward when the sun shall fall
The raven’s wing shall be your pall !
And not a vassal shall unlace
The vizor from your dying face !
A bolt that overhung our dome
Suspended till my curse was given,
Soon as it passed these lips of foam,
Pealed in the blood-red heaven.
Dire was the look that o’er their backs
The angry parting brothers threw :
But now, behold ! like cataracts,
Come down the hills in view
O’Connor’s plumed partisans ;
Thrice ten Kilnagorvian clans
Were marching to their doom :
A sudden storm their plumage tossed,
A flash of lightning o’er them crossed,
And all again was gloom !
Stranger ! I fled the home of grief,
At Connor J Vioran’s tomb to fall ;
I found the helmet of my chief,
His bow still hanging on our wall,
And took it down, and vowed to rove
This desert place a huntress bold ;
Nor would I change my buried love
For any heart of living mould.
No ! for I am a hero’s child ;
I’ll hunt my quarry in the wild ;
And still my home this mansion make,
Of all unheeded and reviled.