To Ethna.

A poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy

First loved, last loved, best loved of all I've loved!
Ethna, my boyhood's dream, my manhood's light,
Pure angel spirit, in whose light I've moved,
Full many a year, along life's darksome night!
Thou wert my star, serenely shining bright
Beyond youth's passing clouds and mists obscure
Thou wert the power that kept my spirit white,
My soul unsoiled, my heart untouched and pure.
Thine was the light from heaven that ever must endure.

Purest, and best, and brightest, no mishap,
No chance, or change can break our mutual ties;
My heart lies spread before thee like a map,
Here roll the tides, and there the mountains rise;
Here dangers frown and there hope's streamlet flies,
And golden promontories cleave the main:
And I have looked into thy lustrous eyes,
And saw the thought thou couldst not all restrain,
A sweet, soft, sympathetic pity for my pain!

Dearest, and best, I dedicate to thee,
From this hour forth, my hopes, my dreams, my cares,
All that I am, and all I e'er may be,
Youth's clustering locks, and age's thin white hairs;
Thou by my side, fair vision, unawares--
Sweet saint--shalt guard me as with angel's wings;
To thee shall rise the morning's hopeful prayers,
The evening hymns, the thoughts that midnight brings,
The worship that like fire out of the warm heart springs.

Thou wilt be with me through the struggling day,
Thou wilt be with me through the pensive night,
Thou wilt be with me, though far, far away
Some sad mischance may snatch you from my sight,
In grief, in pain, in gladness, in delight,
In every thought thy form shall bear a part,
In every dream thy memory shall unite,
Bride of my soul! and partner of my heart!
Till from the dreadful bow flieth the fatal dart!

Am I deceived? and do I pine and faint
For worth that only dwells in heaven above,
And if thou'rt not the Ethna that I paint,
Then thou art not the Ethna that I love;
If thou art not as gentle as the dove,
And good as thou art beautiful, the tooth
Of venomed serpent will not deadlier prove
Than that dark revelation; but in sooth,
Ethna, I wrong thee, dearest, for thy name is TRUTH.

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