It is in sooth a lovely tress,
Still curled in many a ring,
As glossy as the plumes that dress
The raven's jetty wing.
And the broad and soul-illumined brow,
Above whose arch it grew,
Was like the stainless mountain snow,
In its purity of hue.
I mind the time 'twas given to me,
The night, the hour, the spot;
And the eye that pleaded silently,
"Forget the giver not."
Oh! myriads of stars, on high,
Were smiling sweetly fair,
But none was lovely as the eye
That shone beside me there!
Above our heads an ancient oak
Its strong, wide arms held out,
And from its roots a fountain broke,
With a tiny laughing shout;
And the fairy people of the wild
Were bending to their rest,
As trustingly as sleeps the child
Upon its mother's breast.
Soft, silvery cloudlets, pure and white,
Along the sky were hung,
As if the spirits of the night
Their mantles there had flung;
And then the night-breeze pensively
Sighed from its unseen throne,
And far o'er field, and flower, and tree,
A hallowed light came down.
But in our breasts was springing up
A something lovelier far,
Than field, or tree, or flow'ret's cup,
Or sun, or moon, or star!
We heeded not the fountain near,
Its song of gladness singing,
For in our hearts a fount more dear,
And pure, and sweet, was springing.
And she was one whom fortune's smile
Had gladdened from her birth,
Yet her high spirit knew no guile,
No blot nor stain of earth;
And I was but a friendless boy,
And yet her heart was mine;
I knew it, and the thought was joy,
A joy all, all divine!
From out a braided mass she took
This single lock of jet,
And gave it with that pleading look
Which, said, "Do not forget."
Forget! as soon the waves that roll
The ocean's caves above,
May tell their secrets, as the soul
Forget its earliest love.
It has been with me now for years,
Long years of care and strife,
And shall be with me till time wears
Away my web of life.
And when death's keen, resistless dart,
Shall bid its sorrows cease,
This tress shall rest upon my heart,
Its talisman of peace.
"'Twas little she thought that I stood breathless by her side listening to the song she sang as she sat by the sea's edge, pondering so deeply, upon me too perhaps, that the white foam glimmered on her brow unheeded."
Onagh, The Pale Child of the Brehon King.
She stood beside the wide wild sea,
The winds howled hoarse and high,
And dark clouds, drifting drearily,
Swept o'er the starless sky.
Her breast was white as mountain snow,
Her locks hung loose and free,
The foam that glimmered on her brow,
Was scarce so pale as she.
She sang a mournful song of love,
Of trusting love betrayed;
Ah, why did he who won her, prove
So faithless to the maid?
"Why pines my heart so wearily,
Why heaves my aching breast,
And why is sleep so far from me,
When others are at rest?
"Thou, truant wanderer o'er the deep,
The cause of all my cares;
For thee at night I wake and weep,
When none may mark my tears.
"I seek the festive hall no more,
Its mirth no more I crave;
My heart is lonely as the shore,
And restless as the wave.
"My soul has struggled to forget
Its sleepless, fatal flame;
I know thy vows were false, and yet
My love is still the same.
"Still o'er the dream I nursed too well,
My bursting heart will yearn;
For ever with me must it dwell, -
Oh, wanderer, return!"
A white sail fluttered in the wind,
A light bark skimmed the sea, -
It came like hope across the mind,
As swift and silently.
The shell-strewn beach that edged the main,
A manly footstep pressed;
The wanderer had returned again, -
The maiden's heart was blessed!