Old Irish Poems

"Molly Astor" Irish Song

Oh, Mary dear, or, Mary fair, Oh, branch of generous stem, White blossom of the banks of Nair, Though lilies grow on them! You've left me sick at heart for love, So faint I cannot see, The candle swims the board above, - I'm drunk for love of thee! Oh, stately stem of maiden pride, My woe it is, and pain, That I, thus sever'd from thy side, The long night must remain! Through all the towns of Innisfail I've wander'd far and wide; But from Downpatrick to Kinsale, From Carlow to Kilbride, 'Mong lords and dames of high degree Where'er my feet have gone, My Mary, one to equal thee I've never look'd upon; I live in darkness and in doubt Whene'er my love's away, But, were the blessed sun put out, Her shadow would make day! 'Tis she indeed, young bud of bliss, And gentle as she's fair, Though lily-white her bosom is, And sunny-bright her hair, And dewy-azure her blue eye, And rosy-red her cheek, - Yet brighter she in modesty, More beautifully meek! The world's wise men from north to south Can never cure my pain; But one kiss from her honey mouth Would make me whole again!


"The Dear Old Air"

Misfortune's train may chase our joys, But not our love; And I those pensive looks will prize, The smiles of joy above; Your tender looks of love shall still Delight and console; Even though your eyes the tear-drops fill Beyond your love's control. Of troubles past we will not speak, Or future woe; Nor mark, thus leaning cheek to cheek, the stealing tear-drops flow; But I'll sing you the dear old Irish air, Soothing and low, You loved so well when, gay and fair, You won me long ago.


"Remembered" by Katharine Conway born to Irish Catholic parents at Rochester, New York, 1853. Remembered thus, my dearest! remembered! can it be! That, after all my waywardness, I'm still so dear to thee? Though changed thy outward seeming, that thy heart no change hath known, And the love I thought had left me is still my own - my own? O I remebered! but I said, "I, too, can be unheeding." With smiling eyes and aching heart I stilled sweet memory's pleading - Or dreamed I stilled it - murmuring, "soon shall my strength atone For the cares and joys he shares not, and the triumphs won alone." One word from thee, beloved, and the pent-up fount's unsealed, And all my self-deceiving to sense and soul revealed, And all that lonesome, toilsome past clear-pictured unto me, - O it never had a day, dear, unlit by prayer for thee! Fore'er divided? - yea, for earth; but our loves have wider scope, And the bonds between us strengthen with our strong supernal hope, For oh, my friend, my dearest, how God's love halloweth This love that, unaffrighted, look is in the face of Death!


"Brighidin Ban Mo Store"

Brighidin Ban Mo Store by Edward Walsh, teacher and poet born in Londenderry, 1805, and died in Cork, 1850 Brighidin ban mo stor is in English 'fair young bride', or 'Bridget my treasure'. The proper sound of this phrase is not easily found in English-speaking Irish. It is as if written, "Bree-dheen-bawn-mu-sthore". The proper name Brighit, or Bride, signifies a 'fiery dart', and was the name of the goddess of poetry in the Pagan days of Ireland . I am a wand'ring minstrel man, And Love my only theme, I've stray'd beside the pleasant Bann, And eke the Shannon's stream; I've piped and play'd to wife and maid By Barrow, Suir, and Nore, But never met a maiden yet Like Brighidin Ban Mo Store. My girl hath ringlets rich and rare, By Nature's fingers wove - Loch-Carra's swan is not so fair As is her breast of Love; And when she moves, in Sunday sheen, Beyond our cottage door, I'd scorn the high-born Saxon queen For Brighidin Ban Mo Store. It is not that thy smile is sweet, And soft thy voice of song - It is not that thou fleest to meet My comings lone and long; But that doth rest beneath thy breast A heart of purest core, Whose pulse is known to me alone, My Brighidin Ban Mo Store.


"The Ladye Of Lee"  The Ladye Of Lee by Rev. Francis Mahony ("Father Prout") charming poet and versatile writer, born in Cork about 1803; he died in Paris, May 19, 1866. His remains were brought to Cork and buried under the shadow of Shandon Steeple. There's a being bright, whose beams Light my days and gild my dreams, Till my life all sunshine seems -  'tis the ladye of Lee. Oh! the joy that Beauty brings, While her merry laughter rings, And her voice of silver sings - how she loves but me! There's grace in every limb, There's a charm in every whim, And the diamond cannot dim - the dazzling of her e'e.There's a light amid The lustre of her lid, That from the crowd is hid- and only I can see. 'Tis the glance by which is shown That she loves but me alone; That she is all mine own - this ladye of Lee. Then say, can it be wrong, If the burden of my song Be, how fondly I'll belong to this ladye of Lee!


"Farewell! But Whenever You Welcome The Hour" by Thomas Moore

Farewell! but whenever you welcome the hour That awakens the night-song of mirth in your bower, Then think of the friend who once welcomed it too, And forgot his own griefs to be happy with you. His griefs may return - not a hope may remain Of the few that have brighen'd his pathway of pain - But he ne'er will forget the short vision that threw ts enchantment around him while ling'ring with you! And still on that evening, when pleasure fills up To the highest top sparkle each heart and each cup, Where'er my path lies, be it gloomy or bright, My soul, happy friends! shall be with you that night; Shall join in your revels, your sports, and your wiles, And return to me beaming all o'er with your smiles! - Too blest, if it tells me that, 'mid the gay cheer, Some kind voice had murmur'd, "I wish he were here!" Let fate do her worst, there are relics of joy, Bright dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy; And which come, in the night-time sorrow and care, To bring back the features that joy used to wear. Long, long be my heart with such memories fill'd! Like the vase in which roses have once been distill'd - You may break, you may ruin the vase, if you will, But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.


"I'd Mourn The Hopes" by Thomas Moore

I'd mourn the hopes that leave me,  If thy smiles had left me too; I'd weep, when friends deceive me, If thou wert, like them, untrue. But while I've thee before me, With heart so warm and eyes so bright, No clouds can linger o'er me, That smile turns them all to light! 'Tis not in fate to harm me. While fate leaves thy love to me; 'Tis not in joy to charm me, Unless joy be shared with thee. One minute's dream bout thee Were worth a long, an endless year Of waking bliss without thee, My own love, my only dear! And though the hope be gone, love, That long sparkled o'er our way, Oh! we shall journey on, love, More safely without its ray. Far better lights shall win me Along the path I've yet to roam - The mind that burns within me, And pure smiles from thee at home. Thus, when the lamp that lighted The traveller, at first, goes out, He feels a while benighted, And looks round in fear and doubt. But soon, the prospect clearing, By cloudless starlight on he treads, And thinks no lamp so cheering As that light which Heaven sheds.


"Come, Rest In This Bosom" by Thomas Moore

Come, rest in this bosom, my own sticken dear! Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here; Here still is the smile that no cloud can o'er cast, That the heart and the hand all thy own to the last! Oh! what was love made for, if 'tis not the same Through joy and through torments, through glory and shame? I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart, I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art! Thou has call'd me thy angel in moments of bliss, Still thy angel I'll be, 'mid the horrors of this, - Through the furnace, unshrinking, thy steps to pursue, And shield thee, and save thee, or perish there too!


"Written In The Blank Leaf Of A Lady's Common-Place Book" by Thomas Moore

Here is one leaf reserved for me, From all thy sweet memorials free; And here my simple song might tell The feelings thou must guess so well. But could I thus, within thy mind, One little vacant corner find, Where no impression yet is seen, Where no memorial yet has been, Oh! it should be my sweetest care To write my name forever there!


"The Surprise"

The Surprise by Thomas Moore Chloris, I swear, by all I ever swore, That from this hour I shall not love thee more - "What! love no more? Oh! why this alter'd vow?" Because I CANNOT love thee MORE than NOW!


"A Dream" by Thomas Moore

I thought this heart consuming lay On Cupid's burning shrine; I thought he stole thy heart away, And placed it near to mine. I saw thy heart begin to melt Like ice before the sun; Till both a glow congenial felt, And mingled into one!


"Drink To Her"

Drink To Her by Thomas Moore Drink to her who long Hath waked the poet's sigh; The girl who gave to song What gold could never buy. Oh! woman's heart was made For minstrel hands alone! By other fingers play'd, It yields not half the tone. Then here's to her who long Hath waked the poet's sigh, The girl who gave to song What gold could never buy! At beauty's door of glass When wealth and wit once stood, They ask'd her, "which might pass?" She answer'd, "He who could." With golden key wealth though To pass - but 'twould not do; While wit a diamond brought Which cut his bright way through! Then here's to her who long Hath waked the poet's sigh The girl who gave to song What gold could never buy! The love that seeks a home Where wealth and grandeur shines, Is like the gloomy gnome That dwells in dark gold mines. But oh! the poet's love Can boast a brighter sphere; Its native home's above, though woman keeps it here! Then drink to her who long Hath waked the poet's sigh


"GLORY TO THE BRAVE" Submitted by: johnp.boss@juno.com

This is a prayer from Viking mythology. Lo, there do I see my Father... Lo, there do I see my Mother and my Sisters and my Brothers…Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning... Thay do bid me to take my place among them... In the Halls of Valhalla, Where the Brave may live forever.


"Joy's Immortality"

There are the trees that saw them pass The happy fields among, When they were only lad and lass, That now are dead so long. When they were only lass and lad, The nesting birds would sing As though their little hearts were mad With the new wine of spring. And far across the wooded vale, How clear and sweet and strong The love-bedrunken nightingale Would sing their mating song! They saw the summer glories glow And rain of autumn leaves, Nor wept that earth's own kind should go Where earth's own bosom heaves. And they are gone! The trees remain, The birds are singing still, The footsteps of the wind and rain Are silver on the hill. But still I see them dancing on, The bridegroom and the bride; The pained and mortal flesh is gone, The immortal joys abide. Their eyes in every flower are glad, Their voice in every song, As they were still but lass and lad That now are dead so long.



Dear, we are younger and happier than that day When you and I and Love were left alone And the world's laughter and sadness died away Into a rapt and exquisite monotone; We have lived and striven, not songless in the strife, We have known good things and ill and either star; We are younger than these lives born of our life, We are happier than these little laughters are. For life has given us this good gift: to know The harmony in difference and that strain Of humours unresolved that keeps us two; Two souls that with a separate radiance glow, Not to one dullness fused; that still retain This You and I not less than I and You.



Of women no more evil will I say, The lightsome loves that help my heart to live - The sun sees nothing sweeter on his way - They pledge their faith and break it. I forgive, All I forgive and scandal them no more. I am their servant. Let the witless jeer, Though their slain loves are numbered by the score, I love them living and their ghosts are dear.
The cunning wits are loud in their dispraise, And yet I know not. If their breed should fail, What comfort were in all the world's wide ways? A flowerless earth, a sea without a sail. If these were gone that make earth Heaven for men, Love them or hate, 'twere little matter then.


"The Curse :-)"

(here is a poem made by a farmer of Fingal abusing his nag because it threw him into a deep dirty pool just in front of the girl he was going to court.)  You brindled beast through whom I've lost her! Out of my sight! the devil take you! And, 'pon my soul! this is no jest, This year I'll rest not till I break you. Satanic Ananias blast you! Is that the way you learned to carry? Your master in the mud to hurl Before the girl he meant to marry. The everlasting night fiend ride you! My curse cling closer than your saddle! Hell's ravens pick your eyes like eggs! You scarecrow with your legs astraddle! And it was only yesterday too I gave the stable-boy a shilling To stuff your belly full of hay For fear you'd play this trick, you villain! I gave you oats, you thankless devil! And saved your life, you graceless fiend, you! From ragged mane to scrubby tail I combed and brushed and scraped and cleaned you. You brute! the devil scorch and burn you! You had a decent mare for mother, And many a pound I've spent on hay To feed you one day and another. The best of reins, the finest saddle, Good crupper and good pad together, Stout hempen girth - for these I've paid, And breastplate made of Spanish leather. What's the excuse? What blindness caused it? That bias in your indirections That made a windmill of your legs And lost for good my Meg's affections. With my left spur I'll slash and stab you And run it through the heart within you And with the right I'll take great lumps Out of your rumps until I skin you. If ever again I go a-courting Across your back - may Hellfire melt you! - Then may I split my fork in twain And lose the girl again as well too!


"Love's Wing"

In all winged Heaven there is No wing to match with this: Those lift but air and brightness, This lends to earthborn clay a lovelier lightness.


"The Hedge-Schoolmaster to his Love"

O Dearest of dear ones, O sweeter than sweetness!  Than the birds on the mountains more fleet in your fleetness, With your hair on the wind like a stream of fine amber, You came through the mist like the sun in September. As I went at your side in the midst of your brightness, Like a silver swayed birch was your lithe lissom lightness, Your hand was in mine and our hearts beat together And little we cared for the world and its weather. Below in the town they were wrangling and brawling, On the high hills of heaven the soft rain was falling, The soft rain, the sweet rain, so silverly shining, That it charmed us and lulled us till day was declining. Then, hand clasped in hand, with a riot of laughter, We ran to the town and the rain followed after, Till he tired at the last of his splashing and streaming,  And the lovely lit stars through our window came dreaming.




by Samuel Lover novelist, poet, musician and artist born Dublin, 1797 - d. 1868

(a four-leaved Shamrock is of such rarity that it is supposed to endue the finder with magic power) I'll seek a four-leaved shamrock in all the fairy dells, And if I find the charmed laves, or, how I'll weave my spells! I would not waste my magic might on diamond, pearl, or gold, For treasure tires the weary sense, such triumph is but cold; But I would p[lay the enchanter's part, in casting bliss around - Oh! not a tear, nor aching heart, should in the world be found! To worth I would give honor! - I'd dry the mourner's tears, And to the pallid lip recall the smile of happier years, And hearts that had been long estranged, and friends that had grown cold, Should meet again - like parted streams - and mingle as of old; Oh! thus I'd play the enchanter's part, thus scatter bliss around, And not a tear, nor aching heart, should in the world be found! The heart that had been mourning o'er vanish'd dreams of love, Should see them all returning - like Noah's faithful dove, And Hope should launch her bless'd bark on Sorrow's darkening sea, And Misery's children have an ark, and saved from sinking be; Oh! thus I'd play the enchanter's part, thus scatter bliss around, And not a tear, nor aching heart, should in the world be found!


The Passing of the Gael

From Ethna Carbery's "The Four Winds of Eirinn"

They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills They are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills, All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and thrills They are going, shy-eyed cailins, and lads so straight and tall From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal, From the greening plains of Mayo, and the glens of Dangle They are leaving pleasant places,shores with snowy sands outspread; Blue and lonely lakes a-stirring when the wind stirs overhead; Tender living hearts that love them, and the graves of kindred dead. They shall carry to the distant land a tear-drop in the eye And some shall go uncomforted, their days an endless sigh For Kathalen No Houlihan's sad face until they die. Oh,Kathaleen No Houlihan, your road's a thorny way, And 'tis a faithful soul would walk on the flints with you for aye, Would walk the sharp and cruel flints until his locks grew grey, So some must wander to the East, and some must wander West; Some seek the white wastes of the North and some a Southern nest; Yet never shall they sleep so sweet as on your mother breast. Within the city streets, hot hurried full of care A sudden dream shall bring them a whiff of Irish air -- A cool air, faintly-scented, blown soft from otherwhere Oh, the cabins long-deserted! Olden memories awake. Oh, the pleasant, pleasant places! Hush! the blackbird in the brake! Oh, the dear and kindly voices! Now their hearts are fain to ache. And no foreign skies hold beauty like the rainy skies they knew; Nor any night-wind cool the brow as did the foggy dew. They are going, going, going and we cannot bid them stay: Their fields are now the stranger's,where the stranger's cattle stray, Oh! Kathaleen No Houlihan, your way's a thorny way!


Living by John Boyle O'Reilly

To toil all day and lie worn-out at night;  To rise for all the years to slave and sleep, And breed new broods to do no other thing In toiling, bearing, breeding - life is this To myriad men, too base for man or brute. To serve for common duty, while the brain Is hot with high desire to be distinct; To fill the sand-grain place among the stones That build the social wall in million sameness, To life by leave, and death by insignificance. To live the morbid years, with dripping blood Of sacrificial labor for a Thought; To take the dearest hope and lay it down Beneath the crushing wheels for love of Freedom; To bear the sordid jeers of cant and trade, And go on hewing for a far ideal,  This were a life worth giving to a cause, If cause be found so worth a martyr life. But highest life of man, nor work nor sacrifice, But utter seeing of the things that be! To pass amid the hurrying crowds, and watch The hungry race for things of vulgar use; To mark the growth of baser lines in men; To note the bending to a servile rule; To know the natural discord called disease That rots like rust the blood and souls of men; To test the wisdom's and philosophies by touch Of that which is immutable, being clear, The beam God opens to the poet's brain; To see with eyes of pity laboring souls Strive upward to the Freedom and the Truth, And still be backward dragged by fear and ignorance; To see the beauty of the world, and hear The rising harmony of growth, whose shade Of undertone is harmonized decay, To know that love is life - that blood is one And rushes to the union - that the heart Is like a cup athirst for wine of love; Who sees and feels this meaning utterly, The wrong of law, the right of man, the natural truth, Partaking not of selfish aims, withholding not The word that strengthens and the hand that helps; Who waits and sympathizes with the pettiest life, and loves all things, and reaches up to God with thanks and blessing - he alone is living.


© 2013 Daniel Nelms.  All rights reserved.