Underglimpses, and Other Poems. By D. Florence Mac Carthy, M.R.I.A., Author of "Ballads, Poems, and Lyrics," Etc. Etc. London: David Bogue, 1857.
AN ELEGAIC ODE
"He lives, he wakes--tis Death is dead, not he."--Adonais.
Ah! vainly, vainly to my heart is calling
The poets playmate of the year--the Spring.
Vainly it comes--a bright-eyed, glad-faced boy,
With pulses throbbing joy;
With eyes that twinkle, and with feet that bound
Along the grassy ground,
As if each flying foot were sandalled with a wing;
Vainly it comes to tempt me forth to play,
And spend the poets holiday--
The vernal season of sweet recreation,
The hearts too brief vacation
Amid the task-works of the toiling year;--
For now the daisys pearly disks appear
To light the early meadows emerald sky;
Each a little silver sun is seen
Amid its circling heaven of green;
While round about in due gradation,
Through mystic gravitation,
The minor fragrant orbs concentric lie.
Ah! vainly, vainly on my ear is falling
The old, but ever new, sweet melodies
Sung by the feathered syrens of the trees,
That lured my steps so oft,
On spring-tide silvery morning soft,
From the broad highway, or the glaring green,
To where a flickering sheen
Of dark and bright mosaic lights the lea
Beneath the fresh-green copse--
What time, in tiny flakes, soft eddying, drops
The fragrant snow-shower from the hawthorn tree.
Vainly the glad birds twitter now
Upon each conscious bough--
Upon each conscious bough that shares their glee,
And with exulting ecstacy
Trembles through every fibrous vein,
And seems to feel the magic of the strain,
And sinks and soars, and soars and sinks again!
Not that my heart is dead or cold
To the most common sight, the most familiar sound
Of natural beauty or impulsive joy.
Ah! no, thank Heaven! not so;
At heart the poet ever is a boy,
Howeer the years go round:
For though his pallid brow may grow
Furrowed and worn, and with thin silver hair,
As with a fading cirrus cloud, be hung,
His heart is ever young--
Perpetual youth is there.
It is not that the earth has grown less fair,
This last of all the Springs it yet hath known,
That I behold it not with my accustomed gladness;--
Ah! no, not over it, but oer my heart is thrown
A funeral pall of sadness--
A filmy veil of sorrow is outspread
Before my eyes, as by a mourners hand,
For the poet of my people, for the minstrel of my land,
Who is dead!
Dead! ah, no--he has returned to life.
In living death for three blank years he lay,
And now comes forth from the protracted strife,
A conqueror to-day.
To him the common foe no terror brought,
Nor the hearts tremor, nor the gasping breath;
For, like his own Mokannas veil,
A trebly-folded woof of blank unthought
Concealed the horrid front of Death--
The ghastly visage pale!
Thrice had the fair magician of the year,
Her potent wand applying,
Saved the wintry world from dying;
And in the wondrous renovation,
Recalled the freshness and the jubilation
Of the worlds primal day:
So that the stars of heaven again prepared to sing
Their songs of gratulation.
He heeded not, or turned away:
Unmarked the budding wonders of the Spring--
The floral magic of the May;
And when the happy birds in every grove
Sang hymns to Love,
From the green temple of each stately tree--
To Love, whose highest poet-priest was he;
Alas! twas all in vain;
He heeded not the fond adoring strain--
Its music was unheard.
Its magic and its meaning both had flown
Its shrill, sweet echoing chirrup which the grove prolongs.
Ah! me, what wonder, when his own sweet songs,
The sweetest ever sang by bard or bird,
Were to himself unknown!
But let us linger not, my soul, beside
The poets bier or his neglected grave;
Nor burn to think of those to whom he gave
A portion of his own immortal fame,
Who when the last sad moment came--
The hour that claimed the funeral rite august,
For the poor portion of him that had died--
Sullenly shunned the poets sacred dust,
Heedless of what was due to generous lays,
And all the friendly fire of former days.
The hour may come when on his mothers breast
The darling child of song may take his rest;
Then shall the tribute of unnumbered eyes,
Then shall the throbbing of unnumbered hearts,
And all the tender cares that love imparts--
Fond flattering praises, passion-breathing sighs,
Grateful regrets, and hopeful prayers arise--
Then shall the harp which he had woke so oft
To breathe the varied lay--
Mirthful, melodious, melancholy, gay,
Softly severe, and masculine, though soft--
Firm, and yet fond, through every phase of form--
And sunny satire, wounding but to warm--
And fine-edged wit, keen-cutting but to cure--
Then shall the harps elegiac music float,
As if it kept its sad prevailing note
Prolonged through ages for the keen of Moore!
1. The epigraph is from stanza XLI of Percy Bysshe Shelley's Adonais. [return to text]
2. Properly Caoine, the funeral wail for the dead. [MacCarthy's note]