Brontė, Patrick. The Rural Minstrel: A Miscellany of Descriptive Poems. Halifax: P. K. Holden, 1813.

"The Harper of Erin"*

An ancient harper, skilled in rustic lore;
When summer hailed the mild departing spring;
High on a rock, on sweet Killarney's shore,H
With flying fingers, touched the tuneful string.
           A wildly sentimental grace,
Each feature marked, of his expressive face;
And whilst his fingers swept the mellow chords along;
In sweet accord, with his seraphic lyre,
His soul spoke through his eyes, its wild poetic fire;
And thus he raised his song.

I shall not sing of Erin, beauteous isle,
Nor of her courteous sons, for valour famed,
Nor of Killarney, queen of lakes,--
Adorned with nature's sweetest smile,
And every grace that can be named,--
            To view whose charms,
            Insensibility herself awakes,
Whilst soft sensation, her dull bosom warms.
I would, with soaring mind, to higher notes aspire;
           Beyond the pole,
           My glowing soul,
Would catch a spark, of pure seraphic fire,
Where flows the Fount of life, through the divine abode,--
I'd sing the praise of my Redeeming God.

            O, for a seraph's tongue!
            And harp immortal strung,
And sweetly tuned, by Gabriel's hand,
            For highest themes divine!
            O, for a choral seraph-band,
            To join their aid to mine!
But, even then, our notes would feeble prove;
            And in their greatest flight,
            Could never reach the height
                       Of his due praise;
            The Ancient of eternal days,
                       And God of love.

He died! He died! the King of glory died!
To rescue from his heavenly Father's ire,
A guilty world, just sinking in eternal fire.
I see! I see the fatal wood,
Stained with his pure atoning blood!
                      Whilst looks benign,
                       Beam from his face divine,
On the relentless band, by whom that face was marred,
                       Repent ye murderous crew,
                       There's mercy e'en for you,
His boundless love, has not debarred
Your guilty souls, from washing in the blood that's shed
                       By your relentless hands.--
                       But hark! his dying cry
                       Has rent the saddened sky,
           And his unspotted soul is fled,
Midst bright attendant seraph bands.--
           The rocks are rent, the dead arise,
With heavings strange,the solid earth is torn:
           The conscious sun withdraws his light,
           As if unable to support the sight;
And ten-fold night invades the saddened skies:
E'en things inanimate, their great Creator mourn;
Unfeeling man, alone, for whom he bled,
Nor drops one pitying tear, nor mourns his Saviour dead!

Assume, my harp, your softest, and most solemn tone;
Let every mellow chord, in plaintive cadence moan:
                        And whilst the hollow sound,
           Floats on the sighing breeze, around,
           Let echo, weeping in her gloomy cave,
                         Repeat in soothing strain,
(Whilst tears run down my aged cheeks like rain,)
The King of glory bowed his sacred head,
Gave up the ghost, and now is numbered with the dead,
                         In the cold grave.

But hark! a shout of triumph, rent the skies!
And all the host of heaven, loud anthems sing,
                         To their victorious King,
As through their shining ranks he flies.--
Burst from the vanquished grave, in heaven he reigns,
Fast binding death, and hell, in captive chains.
Again, again he comes! I see him in the air;
The loudest notes that heavenly breath can blow,
                          The coming God declare:
Before his presence, rocks and mountains flow,
           In fiery torrents, o'er the burning ground;
The shrivelling heavens, have passed away with dreadful sound:
                           And loud angelic heralds say,
            "Come to judgment! come away!"
Throughout the boundless whole, has fled,
             The voice sonorous, and has waked the dead!

             To the eternal throne,
Where Jesus, judging, sits alone;
             The writhing dragon, of the gloomy deep,
With all his hellish crew, repair,
             And trembling, wail, and weep,
And gnash their teeth, in black despair.--
The impetus resistless, hurries all along;
The good, the bad, the old, and young,
                      The quick, and dead,
             Are forth to judgment led,
             To hear their sentence passed,
             That shall forever last.--
See! opening hell, receives the wicked throng,--
             The righteous travel with their God,
In shining ranks, along the heavenly road,
To dwell, the seraphs bright among.

The harp resumed a livelier tone,
Its hollow murmurs, ceased to moan;
His hand too nimble for the view,
Still quick, and quicker, flew,
Like lightning o'er the sounding strings;
On the blue summit of his speaking eyes,
His soul enraptured, seemed with out-stretched wings,
To aim its flight, beyond the glowing skies.--

But now the sun had kissed the western main,
And hummed the beetle o'er the dusky plain,
Killarney, matchless lake, could scarce be seen;
A misty vail o'erspread the lovely scene.--
The woods and mountains, could be viewed no more,
And jutting rocks, that hem its flowing shore.--
The sweet musician, homeward took his way,
Resolved to tune his harp, another day.

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[Brontė's Notes]

*Erin is the poetical name for Ireland.[return to text]

HKillarney is the name of a beautiful lake in Ireland; remarkable for its pellucid waters, echoing rocks, and picturesque shore.[return to text]