Volume VII Poems & Dramas by Fiona Macloed

DEIRDRÊ IS DEAD . . .

Deirdrê the beautiful is dead! . . . is dead!"
(The House of Usna)

The grey wind weeps, the grey wind weeps,
the grey wind weeps:
Dust on her breast, dust on her eyes, the grey
wind weeps!

Cold, cold it is under the brown sod, and cold
under the grey grass :
Here only the wet wind and the flittermice and
the plovers pass:

I wonder if the wailing birds, and the soft
hair-covered things
Of the air, and the grey wind hear what sighing
song she sings

Down in the quiet hollow where the coiled
twilights of hair
Are gathered into the darkness that broods on her bosom
bare?

It is said that the dead sing, though we have
no cars to hear,
And that whoso lists is lickt up of the Shadow,
too, because of fear--

But this would give me no fear, that I heard
a sighing song from her lips:
No, but as the green heart of an upthrust
towering billow slips

Down into the green hollow of the ingathering
wave,
So would I slip, and sink, and drown, in her grassy
grave.

For is not my desire there, hidden away under the
cloudy night
Of her long hair that was my valley of whispers
and delight--

And in her two white hands, like still swans
on a frozen lake,
Hath she not my heart that I have hidden there for dear love's
sake?

Alas, there is no sighing song, no breath in
the silence there:
Not even the white moth that loves death flits through
her hair

As the bird of Brigid, made of foam and the
pale moonwhite wine
Of dreams, flits under the sombre windless plumes of
the pine.

I hear a voice crying, crying: is it the
wind
I hear, crying its old weary cry time out of
mind?

The grey wind weeps, the grey wind weeps,
the grey wind weeps:
Dust on her breast, dust on her eyes, the grey
wind weeps!

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THE DESIRE AND THE LAMENTATION
OF COEL

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

O, 'tis a good house, and a palace fair, the
Dûn of Macha,
And happy with a great household is Macha
there:
Druids she has, and bards, minstrels, harpers,
knights;
Hosts of servants she has, and wonders
beautiful and rare,
But nought so wonderful and sweet as her
face queenly fair,

O Macha of the Ruddy Hair!

(Choric Voices in a loud, swelling chant):

O Macha of the Ruddy Hair!

(COEL chants):

The colour of her great Dûn is the shining
whiteness of lime,
And within it are floors strewn with green rushes and couches white;
Soft wondrous silks and blue gold-claspt
mantles and furs
Are there, and jewelled golden cups for
revelry by night:
Thy grianân of gold and glass is filled with
sunshine-light,

O Macha, queen by day, queen by
night!

(Choric Voices):

O Macha, queen by day, queen by
night!

Beyond the green portals, and the brown and
red thatch of wings
Striped orderly, the wings of innumerous
stricken birds,
A wide shining floor reaches from wall to
wall, wondrously carven
Out of a sheet of silver, whereon are graven
swords
Intricately ablaze: mistress of many hoards
Art thou, Macha of few words!

(Choric Voices):

O Macha of few words!

Fair indeed is thy couch, but fairer still is thy
throne,
A chair it is, all of a blaze of wonderful
yellow gold:
There thou sittest, and. watchest the women
going to and fro,
Each in garments fair and with long locks twisted fold
in fold:
With the joy that is in thy house men would
not grow old

O Macha, proud, austere, cold.

(Choric Voices):

O Macha, proud, austere, cold!

Of a surety there is much joy to be had of
thee and thine,
There in the song-sweet sunlit bowers in
that place;
Wounded men might sink in sleep and be well
content
So to sleep, and to dream perchance, and
know no other grace,
Then to wake and look betimes on thy proud queenly face,

O Macha of the Proud Face!

 

(Choric Voices):

O Macha of the Proud Face!

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

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy
Head!

(Choric Voices):

In the house of Macha of the Ruddy
Head!

In that great house where Macha the queen
has her pleasaunce
There is everything in the whole world that
a man might desire.
God is my witness that if I say little it is for
this,
That I am grown faint with wonder, and can no more admire,
But say this only, that I live and die in the fire

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

Choric Voices in a loud swelling chant):

But say this only, that we live and die in the fire
Of thine eyes, O Macha, Dream,
Desire,
With thine eyes of fire!

(Choric Voices repeat their refrains, but fainter, and becoming more faint. Last vanishing sound of the harps and tympans.)

(The Voice Of COEL):

And where now is Macha of the proud face and the ruddy
hair,
Macha of few words, proud, austere, cold, with the eyes of
fire?
Is she calling to the singers down there under the grass,
Is she saying to the bard, sing: and to the minstrel, where is
thy lyre ?
Or is that her voice that I hear, lonelier and
further and higher
Than the wild wailing wind on the moor that echoes my desire,

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

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THE LOVE-SONG OF DROSTAN

(From "Drostan and Yseul": an unpublished drama.)

 

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

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

In the days of the Great Fires when the hills
were aflame,
Aed the Shining God lay by a foamwhite
mountain,
The white thigh of moon-crown'd Dana,
Beautiful Mother.
And the wind fretted the blue with the tossed
curling clouds
Of her tangled hair, and like two flaming stars
were her eyes
Torches of sunfire and moonfire: and her vast
breasts
Heaved as the sea heaves in the white calms,
and the wind of her sighs
Were as the winds of sunrise soaring the
peaks of the eagles--
Dana, Mother of the Gods, moon-crown'd,
sea-shod, wonderful!

Fire of my love," she cried. . . . Aed of the
Sunlight and Shadow
Laughed: and he rose till he grew more vast
than Dana:
The sun was his trampling foot, and he wore
the moon as a feather:
And he lay by Dana: and the world swayed,
and the stars swung.
Thus was Oengus born, Lord of Love, Son of
Wisdom and Death.

Hear us, Oengus Beautiful, Terrible, Sun-Lord
and Death-Lord!
Give us the white flame of love bornof Aed and
of Dana
--
Hearken, thou Pulse of hearts and let the white
doves from your lips
Cover with Passionate wines the silence between
us,
Where a white fawn leaps and onIy Yseul and
I behold it.

 

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THE WAR-SONG OF THE VIKINGS

Let loose the hounds of war,
The whirling swords!
Send them leaping afar,
Red in their thirst for war;
Odin laughs in his car
At the screaming of the swords!

Far let the white-ones fly,
The whirling swords!
Afar off the ravens spy
Death-shadows cloud the sky.
Let the wolves of the Gael die
'Neath the screaming swords!

The Shining Ones yonder
High in Valhalla
Shout now, with thunder:
Drive the Gaels under,
Cleave them asunder--
Swords of Valhalla!

 

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THE BIRD OF CHRIST

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Christ upon the Cross:
My little nest was near
Hidden in the moss.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Christ was pale and wan:
His eyes beheld me singing
Bron, Bron, mo Bron ¹

Holy, Holy, Holy,
"Come near, O wee brown bird!"
Christ spake, and lo, I lighted
Upon the Living Word.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
I heard the mocking scorn!
But Holy, Holy, Holy,
I sang against a thorn!

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Ah, his brow was bloody:
Holy, Holy, Holy,
All my breast was ruddy.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Christ's-Bird shalt thou be:
Thus said Mary Virgin
There on Calvary.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
A wee brown bird am I:
But my breast is ruddy
For I saw Christ die.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
By this ruddy feather,
Colum, call thy monks, and
All the birds together

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
¹ O my Grief, my Grief!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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ST. CHRISTOPHER OF THE GAEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At times a wild and plaintive air
Made delicate music far away:
A hill-fox barked before its lair:
The white owl hawked its shadowy prey.

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

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

One monk alone had Modred kept,
A youth with hair of golden-red
Who never once had sighed or wept,
Not once had bowed his proud young head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nial went forth with gladsome face;
No more of Modred's clan he was:
"Now, now," he cried, "Christ's trail I'll
trace,
And nowhere turn, and nowhere pause."

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

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

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

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

Cut from an ash a mighty bough
And trimmed and shaped it to the half:
"Safe in the desert am I now,
With sword," he said, " and with this staff."

The stars came out: Arcturus hung
His ice-blue fire far down the sky:
The Great Bear through the darkness swung:
The Seven Watchers rose on high.

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

Three hours Nial walked, three hours and
more:
Then halted when beyond the plain
He stood upon that river's shore
The dying monk had bid him gain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A king am I
Tho' a little Child,
Son of God am I,
Meek and mild,
Beautiful--
Because God hath said
Let my cup be full
Of wine and bread.

Come to me
Shaken heart,
Shaken heart!
I will not flee.
My heart
Is thy heart
O shaken heart!
Stoop to my Cup,
Sup
Drink of the wine:
The wine and the bread,
Saith God,
Are mine--
My Flesh and my Blood!

Throw thy sword in the flood.
Come, shaken heart:
Fearful thou art!
Have no more fear
Lo, I am here,
The little one,
The Son,
Thy Lord and thy King.
It is I who sing:
Christ, your King
. . .

Be not afraid:
Look, I am Light,
A great star
Seen from afar
In the darkness of night:
I am Light,
Be not afraid
. . .

Wade, wade
Into the deep flood!
Think of the Bread,
The Wine and the Bread
That are my Flesh and Blood.

Cross, cross the Flood,
Sure is the goal
Be not afraid
O Soul,
Be not afraid!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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THE CROSS OF THE DUMB

A CHRISTMAS ON IONA, LONG, LONG AGO

 

One eve, when St. Columba strode
In solemn mood along the shore,
He met an angel on the road
Who but a poor man's semblance bore.

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

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

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

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

The weary pilgrim raised his head
And looked and smiled and said, "From far,
My wandering feet have here been led
By the glory of a shining star. . . "

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

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

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

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

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

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

Within the low refectory sate
The little clan of holy folk:
Then, while the brothers mused and ate,
The wayfarer arose and spoke. . . .

"O Colum of Iona-Isle,
And ye who dwell in God's quiet p1ace,
Before I crossed your narrow kyle
I looked in Heaven upon Christ's face."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At that the wild clans of the air
Came sweeping in a mist of wings--
Ospreys and fierce solanders there,
Sea-swallows wheeling mazy rings,

The foam-white mew, the green-black scart,
The famishing hawk, the wailing tern,
All birds from the sand-building mart
To lonely bittern and heron. . . .

St. Colum raised beseeching hands
And blessed the pastures of the sea:
" Come, all ye creatures, to the sands,
Come and behold the Sacred Tree! "

At that the cold clans of the wave
With spray and surge and splash appeared:
Up from each wreck-strewn, lightless cave
Dim day-struck eyes affrighted peered.

The pollacks came with rushing haste,
The great sea-cod, the speckled bass;
Along the foaming tideway raced
The herring-tribes like shimmering glass:

The mackerel and the dog-fish ran,
The whiting, haddock, in their wake:
The great sea-flounders upward span,
The fierced-eyed conger and the hake:

The greatest and the least of these
From hidden pools and tidal ways
Surged in their myriads from the seas
And stared at St. Columba's face.

"Hearken," he cried, with solemn voice
"Hearken! ye people of the Deep,
Ye people of skies, Rejoice!
No more your soulless terror keep!

"For lo, an Angel from the Lord
Hath shown us that wherein we sin--
But now we humbly do His Word
And call you, Brothers, kith and kin.

"No more we claim the world as ours
And everything that therein is--
To-day, Christ's-Day, the infinite powers
Decree a common share of bliss.

I know not if the new-waked soul
That stirs in every heart I see
Has yet to reach the far-off goal
Whose symbol is this Cross-shaped Tree. . . .

"But, O dumb kindred of the skies,
O·kinsfolk of the pathless seas,
All scorn and hate I exorcise,
And wish you nought but Love and Peace!"

* * * * *

Thus, on that Christmas-day of old
St. Colum broke the ancient spell.
A thousand years away have rolled,
'Tis now . . . " a baseless miracle."

O fellow-kinsmen of the Deep,
O kindred of the wind and cloud,
God's children too
. . . how He must weep
Who on that day was glad and Proud!

 

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