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.


"He lives, he wakes--’tis Death is dead, not he."--Adonais.[1]


    Ah! vainly, vainly to my heart is calling
        The poet’s 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 poet’s holiday--
        The vernal season of sweet recreation,
            The heart’s too brief vacation
    Amid the task-works of the toiling year;--
        For now the daisy’s pearly disks appear
    To light the early meadow’s 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,
        Howe’er 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 o’er my heart is thrown
        A funeral pall of sadness--
    A filmy veil of sorrow is outspread
        Before my eyes, as by a mourner’s 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 heart’s tremor, nor the gasping breath;
            For, like his own Mokanna’s 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 world’s 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 poet’s 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 poet’s 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 mother’s 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 harp’s elegiac music float,
    As if it kept its sad prevailing note
Prolonged through ages for the keen[2] of Moore!

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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]