O memory, take my hand to-day
And lead me thro' the darkened bridge
Washed by the wild Atlantic spray
And spanning many a wind-swept ridge
Of sorrow, grief, of love and joy,
Of youthful hopes and manly fears!
O! let me cross the bridge of years
And see myself again a boy!
The shadows pass- I see the light,
O morning light, how clear and strong!
My native skies are smiling bright,
No more I grope my way along,
It comes, the murmur of the tide
Upon my ear - I hear the cry
Of wandering sea birds as they fly
In trooping squadrons far and near.
The breeze that blows o'er Mullaghmore
I feel against my boyish cheek
The white-walled huts that strew the shore
From Castlegal to old Belleek,
The fisher folk of Donegal,
Kindly of heart and strong of arm,
Who plough the ocean's treacherous farm,
How plainly I behold them all!
The thrush'ssong, the blackbird's note,
The wren within the hawthorn hedge,
The robin 's swelling vibrant throat,
The leveretcrouching in the sedge!
In those dear days, ah! what was school?
When Nature made our pulses thrill!
The lessons we remember still
Were learnt at Nature's own footstool!
"The hounds are out!the beagles chase
Along the slopes of Tawley 's plain!"
I rise and follow in the race
Till fox, or hare, or both are slain,
With heart ablaze, I loose the reins
Of all my childish fierce desire,
My faith! 't is Ireland plants the fire
And iron in her children's veins!
The mountain linnet whistles sweet
Among the gorse of summer-time,
As up the hill with eager feet
The sun of morning sees me climb
Until at last I sink to rest
Where heatherbells swing to the tune
That Benbo breezes softly croon-
A tired child on the mother's breast!
And now in wisdom's riper years,
Ah, wisdom! what a price we pay
Of sorrow, grief, of smiles and tears,
Before we reach that wiser day!
We meet to greet in joy and mirth
The white-haired parent of us all
Our childhood's memories to recall
And bless the land that gave us birth.