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Poem by Louise Imogen Guiney

Two Irish Peasant Songs


I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while.
Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile,
Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all,
Why from me thats young should the wild tears fall?

The shower-stricken earth, the earth-coloured streams,
They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams,
And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall,
[34]It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.

The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill,
And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still;
But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call,
The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!


Tis the time o the year, if the quicken-bough be staunch,
The green, like a breaker, rolls steady up the branch,
And surges in the spaces, and floods the trunk, and heaves
In jets of angry spray that is the under-white of leaves;
And from the thorn in companies the foamy petals fall,
And waves of jolly ivy wink along a windy wall.

Tis the time o the year the marsh is full of sound,
And good and glorious it is to smell the living ground.
The crimson-headed catkin shakes above the pasture-bars,
The daisy takes the middle field, and spangles it with stars,
And down the bank into the lane the primroses do crowd,
All coloured like the twilight moon, and spreading like a cloud!

Tis the time o the year, in early light and glad,
The lark has a music to drive a lover mad;
[35]The downs are dripping nightly, the breathèd damps arise,
Deliciously the freshets cool the graylings golden eyes,
And lying in a row against the chilly north, the sheep
Inclose a place without a wind for little lambs to sleep.

Tis the time o the year I turn upon the height
To watch from my harrow the dance of going light;
And if before the sun be hid, come slowly up the vale
Honora with her dimpled throat, Honora with her pail,
Hey, but theres many a March for me, and many and many a lass!
I fall to work and song again, and let Honora pass.

Louise Imogen Guiney

Louise Imogen Guiney's other poems:
  1. Writ in my Lord Clarendons History of the Rebellion
  2. On the Same (continued)
  3. A December Walk
  4. A Last Word on Shelley
  5. The Old Dial of Corpus

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