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The Legends of Saint Patrick
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This etext was prepared by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.



THE LEGENDS OF SAINT PATRICK BY AUBREY DE VERE, LL.D.



CONTENTS.

INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY.

SAINT PATRICK—FROM "ENGLISH WRITERS," BY HENRY MORLEY.

PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR.

POEMS:- THE BAPTISM OF SAINT PATRICK. THE DISBELIEF OF MILCHO. SAINT PATRICK AT TARA. SAINT PATRICK AND THE TWO PRINCESSES. SAINT PATRICK AND THE CHILDREN OF FOCHLUT WOOD. SAINT PATRICK AND KING LAEGHAIRE. SAINT PATRICK AND THE IMPOSTOR. SAINT PATRICK AT CASHEL. SAINT PATRICK AND THE CHILDLESS MOTHER. SAINT PATRICK AT THE FEAST OF KNOCK CAE. SAINT PATRICK AND KING EOCHAID. SAINT PATRICK AND THE FOUNDING OF ARMAGH CATHEDRAL. THE ARRAIGNMENT OF SAINT PATRICK. THE STRIVING OF SAINT PATRICK ON MOUNT CRUACHAN. EPILOGUE. THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PATRICK.



INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY.

Once more our readers are indebted to a living poet for wide circulation of a volume of delightful verse. The name of Aubrey de Vere is the more pleasantly familiar because its association with our highest literature has descended from father to son. In 1822, sixty-seven years ago, Sir Aubrey de Vere, of Curragh Chase, by Adare, in the county of Limerick—then thirty-four years old—first made his mark with a dramatic poem upon "Julian the Apostate." In 1842 Sir Aubrey published Sonnets, which his friend Wordsworth described as "the most perfect of our age;" and in the year of his death he completed a dramatic poem upon "Mary Tudor," published in the next year, 1847, with the "Lamentation of Ireland, and other Poems." Sir Aubrey de Vere's "Mary Tudor" should be read by all who have read Tennyson's play on the same subject.

The gift of genius passed from Sir Aubrey to his third son, Aubrey Thomas de Vere, who was born in 1814, and through a long life has put into music only noble thoughts associated with the love of God and man, and of his native land. His first work, published forty- seven years ago, was a lyrical piece, in which he gave his sympathy to devout and persecuted men whose ways of thought were not his own. Aubrey de Vere's poems have been from time to time revised by himself, and they were in 1884 finally collected into three volumes, published by Messrs. Kegan Paul. Left free to choose from among their various contents, I have taken this little book of "Legends of St. Patrick," first published in 1872, but in so doing I have unwillingly left many a piece that would please many a reader.

They are not, however, inaccessible. Of the three volumes of collected works, each may be had separately, and is complete in itself. The first contains "The Search after Proserpine, and other Poems—Classical and Meditative." The second contains the "Legends of St. Patrick, and Legends of Ireland's Heroic Age," including a version of the "Tain Bo." The third contains two plays, "Alexander the Great," "St. Thomas of Canterbury," and other Poems.

For the convenience of some readers, the following extract from the second volume of my "English Writers," may serve as a prosaic summary of what is actually known about St. Patrick. H. M.



ST. PATRICK.

FROM "ENGLISH WRITERS."

The birth of St. Patrick, Apostle and Saint of Ireland, has been generally placed in the latter half of the fourth century; and he is said to have died at the age of a hundred and twenty. As he died in the year 493—and we may admit that he was then a very old man—if we may say that he reached the age of eighty-eight, we place his birth in the year 405. We may reasonably believe, therefore, that he was born in the early part of the fifth century. His birthplace, now known as Kilpatrick, was at the junction of the Levin with the Clyde, in what is now the county of Dumbarton. His baptismal name was Succath. His father was Calphurnius, a deacon, son of Potitus, who was a priest. His mother's name was Conchessa, whose family may have belonged to Gaul, and who may thus have been, as it is said she was, of the kindred of St. Martin of Tours; for there is a tradition that she was with Calphurnius as a slave before he married her. Since Eusebius spoke of three bishops from Britain at the Council of Arles, Succath, known afterwards in missionary life by his name in religion, Patricius (pater civium), might very reasonably be a deacon's son.

In his early years Succath was at home by the Clyde, and he speaks of himself as not having been obedient to the teaching of the clergy. When he was sixteen years old he, with two of his sisters and other of his countrymen, was seized by a band of Irish pirates that made descent on the shore of the Clyde and carried him off to slavery. His sisters were taken to another part of the island, and he was sold to Milcho MacCuboin in the north, whom he served for six or seven years, so learning to speak the language of the country, while keeping his master's sheep by the Mountain of Slieve Miss. Thoughts of home and of its Christian life made the youth feel the heathenism that was about him; his exile seemed to him a punishment for boyish indifference; and during the years when young enthusiasm looks out upon life with new sense of a man's power—growing for man's work that is to do—Succath became filled with religious zeal.

Three Latin pieces are ascribed to St. Patrick: a "Confession," which is in the Book of Armagh, and in three other manuscripts; {10a} a letter to Coroticus, and a few "Dieta Patricii," which are also in the Book of Armagh. {10b} There is no strong reason for questioning the authenticity of the "Confession," which is in unpolished Latin, the writer calling himself "indoctus, rusticissimus, imperitus," and it is full of a deep religious feeling. It is concerned rather with the inner than the outer life, but includes references to the early days of trial by which Succath's whole heart was turned to God. He says, "After I came into Ireland I pastured sheep daily, and prayed many times a day. The love and fear of God, and faith and spirit, wrought in me more and more, so that in one day I reached to a hundred prayers, and in the night almost as many, and stayed in the woods and on the mountains, and was urged to prayer before the dawn, in snow, in frost, in rain, and took no harm, nor, I think, was there any sloth in me. And there one night I heard a voice in a dream saying to me, 'Thou hast well fasted; thou shalt go back soon to thine own land;' and again after a little while, 'Behold! thy ship is ready.'" In all this there is the passionate longing of an ardent mind for home and Heaven.

At the age of twenty-two Succath fled from his slavery to a vessel of which the master first refused and finally consented to take him on board. He and the sailors were then cast by a storm upon a desert shore of Britain, possibly upon some region laid waste by ravages from over sea. Having at last made his way back, by a sea passage, to his home on the Clyde, Succath was after a time captured again, but remained captive only for two months, and went back home. Then the zeal for his Master's service made him feel like the Seafarer in the Anglo-Saxon poem; and all the traditions of his home would have accorded with the rise of the resolve to cross the sea, and to spread Christ's teaching in what had been the land of his captivity.

There were already centres of Christian work in Ireland, where devoted men were labouring and drew a few into their fellowship. Succath aimed at the gathering of all these scattered forces, by a movement that should carry with it the whole people. He first prepared himself by giving about four years to study of the Scriptures at Auxerre, under Germanus, and then went to Rome, under the conduct of a priest, Segetius, and probably with letters from Germanus to Pope Celestine. Whether he received his orders from the Pope seems doubtful; but the evidence is strong that Celestine sent him on his Irish mission. Succath left Rome, passed through North Italy and Gaul, till he met on his way two followers of Palladius, Augustinus and Benedictus, who told him of their master's failure, and of his death at Fordun. Succath then obtained consecration from Amathus, a neighbouring bishop, and as Patricius, went straight to Ireland. He landed near the town of Wicklow, by the estuary of the River Varty, which had been the landing-place of Palladius. In that region he was, like Palladius, opposed; but he made some conversions, and advanced with his work northward that he might reach the home of his old master, Milcho, and pay him the purchase- money of his stolen freedom. But Milcho, it is said, burnt himself and his goods rather than bear the shame of submission to the growing power of his former slave.

St. Patrick addressed the ruling classes, who could bring with them their followers, and he joined tact with his zeal; respecting ancient prejudices, opposing nothing that was not directly hostile to the spirit of Christianity, and handling skilfully the chiefs with whom he had to deal. An early convert—Dichu MacTrighim—was a chief with influential connections, who gave the ground for the religious house now known as Saul. This chief satisfied so well the inquiries of Laeghaire, son of Niall, King of Erin, concerning the stranger's movements, that St. Patrick took ship for the mouth of the Boyne, and made his way straight to the king himself. The result of his energy was that he met successfully all the opposition of those who were concerned in the maintenance of old heathen worship, and brought King Laeghaire to his side.

Then Laeghaire resolved that the old laws of the country as established by the judges, whose order was named Brehon, should be revised, and brought into accord with the new teaching. So the Brehon laws of Ireland were revised, with St. Patrick's assistance, and there were no ancient customs broken or altered, except those that could not be harmonised with Christian teaching. The good sense of St. Patrick enabled this great work to be done without offence to the people. The collection of laws thus made by the chief lawyers of the time, with the assistance of St. Patrick, is known as the "Senchus Mor," and, says an old poem -

"Laeghaire, Corc Dairi, the brave; Patrick, Beuen, Cairnech, the just; Rossa, Dubtach, Fergus, the wise; These are the nine pillars of the Senchus Mor."

This body of laws, traditions, and treatises on law is found in no manuscript of a date earlier than the fourteenth century. It includes, therefore, much that is of later date than the fifth century.

St. Patrick's greatest energies are said to have been put forth in Ulster and Leinster. Among the churches or religious communities founded by him in Ulster was that of Armagh. If he was born about the year 405, when he was carried to Ireland as a prisoner at the age of sixteen the date would have been 421. His age would have been twenty-two when he escaped, after six or seven years of captivity, and the date 427. A year at home, and four years with Germanus at Auxerre, would bring him to the age of twenty-seven, and the year 432, when he began his great endeavour to put Christianity into the main body of the Irish people. That work filled all the rest of his life, which was long. If we accept the statement, in which all the old records agree, that the time of Patrick's labour in Ireland was not less than sixty years; sixty years bring him to the age of eighty-eight in the year 493. And in that year he died.

The "Letter to Coroticus," ascribed to St. Patrick, is addressed to a petty king of Brittany who persecuted Christians, and was meant for the encouragement of Christian soldiers who served under him. It may, probably, be regarded as authentic. The mass of legend woven into the life of the great missionary lies outside this piece and the "Confession." The "Confession" only expresses heights and depths of religious feeling haunted by impressions and dreams, through which, to the fervid nature out of which they sprang heaven seemed to speak. St. Patrick did not attack heresies among the Christians; he preached to those who were not Christians the Christian faith and practice. His great influence was not that of a writer, but of a speaker. He must have been an orator, profoundly earnest, who could put his soul into his voice; and, when his words bred deeds, conquered all difficulties in the way of action with right feeling and good sense. HENRY MORLEY.



TO THE MEMORY OF WORDSWORTH.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO "THE LEGENDS OF SAINT PATRICK."

The ancient records of Ireland abound in legends respecting the greatest man and the greatest benefactor that ever trod her soil; and of these the earlier are at once the more authentic and the nobler. Not a few have a character of the sublime; many are pathetic; some have a profound meaning under a strange disguise; but their predominant character is their brightness and gladsomeness. A large tract of Irish history is dark: but the time of Saint Patrick, and the three centuries which succeeded it, were her time of joy. That chronicle is a song of gratitude and hope, as befits the story of a nation's conversion to Christianity, and in it the bird and the brook blend their carols with those of angels and of men. It was otherwise with the later legends connecting Ossian with Saint Patrick. A poet once remarked, while studying the frescoes of Michael Angelo in the Sistine Chapel, that the Sibyls are always sad, while the Prophets alternated with them are joyous. In the legends of the Patrician Cycle the chief-loving old Bard is ever mournful, for his face is turned to the past glories of his country; while the Saint is always bright, because his eyes are set on to the glory that has no end.

These legends are to be found chiefly in several very ancient lives of Saint Patrick, the most valuable of which is the "Tripartite Life," ascribed by Colgan to the century after the Saint's death, though it has not escaped later interpolations. The work was long lost, but two copies of it were re-discovered, one of which has been recently translated by that eminent Irish scholar, Mr. Hennessy. Whether regarded from the religious or the philosophic point of view, few things can be more instructive than the picture which it delineates of human nature at a period of critical transition, and the dawning of the Religion of Peace upon a race barbaric, but far indeed from savage. That wild race regarded it doubtless as a notable cruelty when the new Faith discouraged an amusement so popular as battle; but in many respects they were in sympathy with that Faith. It was one in which the nobler affections, as well as the passions, retained an unblunted ardour; and where Nature is strongest and least corrupted it most feels the need of something higher than itself, its interpreter and its supplement. It prized the family ties, like the Germans recorded by Tacitus; and it could not but have been drawn to Christianity, which consecrated them. Its morals were pure, and it had not lost that simplicity to which so much of spiritual insight belongs. Admiration and wonder were among its chief habits; and it would not have been repelled by Mysteries in what professed to belong to the Infinite. Lawless as it was, it abounded also in loyalty, generosity, and self-sacrifice; it was not, therefore, untouched by the records of martyrs, examples of self-sacrifice, or the doctrine of a great Sacrifice. It loved children and the poor; and Christianity made the former the exemplars of faith, and the latter the eminent inheritors of the Kingdom. On the other hand, all the vices of the race ranged themselves against the new religion.

In the main the institutions and traditions of Ireland were favourable to Christianity. She had preserved in a large measure the patriarchal system of the East. Her clans were families, and her chiefs were patriarchs who led their households to battle, and seized or recovered the spoil. To such a people the Christian Church announced herself as a great family—the family of man. Her genealogies went up to the first parent, and her rule was parental rule. The kingdom of Christ was the household of Christ; and its children in all lands formed the tribes of a larger Israel. Its laws were living traditions; and for traditions the Irish had ever retained the Eastern reverence.

In the Druids no formidable enemy was found; it was the Bards who wielded the predominant social influence. As in Greece, where the sacerdotal power was small, the Bards were the priests of the national Imagination, and round them all moral influences had gathered themselves. They were jealous of their rivals; but those rivals won them by degrees. Secknall and Fiacc were Christian Bards, trained by St. Patrick, who is said to have also brought a bard with him from Italy. The beautiful legend in which the Saint loosened the tongue of the dumb child was an apt emblem of Christianity imparting to the Irish race the highest use of its natural faculties. The Christian clergy turned to account the Irish traditions, as they had made use of the Pagan temples, purifying them first. The Christian religion looked with a genuine kindness on whatever was human, except so far as the stain was on it; and while it resisted to the face what was unchristian in spirit, it also, in the Apostolic sense, "made itself all things to all men." As legislator, Saint Patrick waged no needless war against the ancient laws of Ireland. He purified them, and he amplified them, discarding only what was unfit for a nation made Christian. Thus was produced the great "Book of the Law," or "Senchus Mohr," compiled A.D. 439.

The Irish received the Gospel gladly. The great and the learned, in other nations the last to believe, among them commonly set the example. With the natural disposition of the race an appropriate culture had concurred. It was one which at least did not fail to develop the imagination, the affections, and a great part of the moral being, and which thus indirectly prepared ardent natures, and not less the heroic than the tender, to seek their rest in spiritual things, rather than in material or conventional. That culture, without removing the barbaric, had blended it with the refined. It had created among the people an appreciation of the beautiful, the pathetic, and the pure. The early Irish chronicles, as well as songs, show how strong among them that sentiment had ever been. The Borromean Tribute, for so many ages the source of relentless wars, had been imposed in vengeance for an insult offered to a woman; and a discourtesy shown to a poet had overthrown an ancient dynasty. The education of an Ollambh occupied twelve years; and in the third century, the time of Oiseen and Fionn, the military rules of the Feine included provisions which the chivalry of later ages might have been proud of. It was a wild, but not wholly an ungentle time. An unprovoked affront was regarded as a grave moral offence; and severe punishments were ordained, not only for detraction, but for a word, though uttered in jest, which brought a blush on the cheek of a listener. Yet an injury a hundred years old could meet no forgiveness, and the life of man was war! It was not that laws were wanting; a code, minute in its justice, had proportioned a penalty to every offence, and specified the Eric which was to wipe out the bloodstain in case the injured party renounced his claim to right his own wrong. It was not that hearts were hard—there was at least as much pity for others as for self. It was that anger was implacable, and that where fear was unknown, the war field was what among us the hunting field is.

The rapid growth of learning as well as piety in the three centuries succeeding the conversion of Ireland, prove that the country had not been till then without a preparation for the gift. It had been the special skill of Saint Patrick to build the good which was lacked upon that which existed. Even the material arts of Ireland he had pressed into the service of the Faith; and Irish craftsmen had assisted him, not only in the building of his churches, but in casting his church bells, and in the adornment of his chalices, crosiers, and ecclesiastical vestments. Once elevated by Christianity, Ireland's early civilisation was a memorable thing. It sheltered a high virtue at home, and evangelised a great part of Northern Europe; and amidst many confusions it held its own till the true time of barbarism had set in—those two disastrous centuries when the Danish invasions trod down the sanctuaries, dispersed the libraries, and laid waste the colleges to which distant kings had sent their sons.

Perhaps nothing human had so large an influence in the conversion of the Irish as the personal character of her Apostle. Where others, as Palladius, had failed, he succeeded. By nature, by grace, and by providential training, he had been specially fitted for his task. We can still see plainly even the finer traits of that character, while the land of his birth is a matter of dispute, and of his early history we know little, except that he was of noble birth, that he was carried to Ireland by pirates at the age of sixteen, and that after five years of bondage he escaped thence, to return A.D. 432, when about forty-five years old; belonging thus to that great age of the Church which was made illustrious by the most eminent of its Fathers, and tasked by the most critical of its trials. In him a great character had been built on the foundations of a devout childhood, and of a youth ennobled by adversity. Everywhere we trace the might and the sweetness which belonged to it, the versatile mind yet the simple heart, the varying tact yet the fixed resolve, the large design taking counsel for all, yet the minute solicitude for each, the fiery zeal yet the genial temper, the skill in using means yet the reliance on God alone, the readiness in action with the willingness to wait, the habitual self-possession yet the outbursts of an inspiration which raised him above himself, the abiding consciousness of authority—an authority in him, but not of him—and yet the ever-present humility. Above all, there burned in him that boundless love, which seems the main constituent of the Apostolic character. It was love for God; but it was love for man also, an impassioned love, and a parental compassion. It was not for the spiritual weal alone of man that he thirsted. Wrong and injustice to the poor he resented as an injury to God. His vehement love for the poor is illustrated by his "Epistle to Coroticus," reproaching him with his cruelty, as well as by his denunciations of slavery, which piracy had introduced into parts of Ireland. No wonder that such a character should have exercised a talismanic power over the ardent and sensitive race among whom he laboured, a race "easy to be drawn, but impossible to be driven," and drawn more by sympathy than even by benefits. That character can only be understood by one who studies, and in a right spirit, that account of his life which he bequeathed to us shortly before its close—the "Confession of Saint Patrick." The last poem in this series embodies its most characteristic portions, including the visions which it records.

The "Tripartite Life" thus ends: —"After these great miracles, therefore, after resuscitating the dead, after healing lepers, and the blind, and the deaf, and the lame, and all diseases; after ordaining bishops, and priests, and deacons, and people of all orders in the Church; after teaching the men of Erin, and after baptising them; after founding churches and monasteries; after destroying idols and images and Druidical arts, the hour of death of Saint Patrick approached. He received the body of Christ from the Bishop Tassach, according to the counsel of the Angel Victor. He resigned his spirit afterwards to Heaven, in the one hundred and twentieth year of his age. His body is still here in the earth, with honour and reverence. Though great his honour here, greater honour will be to him in the Day of Judgment, when judgment will be given on the fruit of his teaching, as of every great Apostle, in the union of the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus; in the union of the Nine Orders of Angels, which cannot be surpassed; in the union of the Divinity and Humanity of the Son of God; in the union, which is higher than all unions, of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." A. DE VERE.



THE LEGENDS OF SAINT PATRICK.



THE BAPTISM OF ST. PATRICK.

"How can the babe baptised be Where font is none and water none?" Thus wept the nurse on bended knee, And swayed the Infant in the sun.

"The blind priest took that Infant's hand: With that small hand, above the ground He signed the Cross. At God's command A fountain rose with brimming bound.

"In that pure wave from Adam's sin The blind priest cleansed the Babe with awe; Then, reverently, he washed therein His old, unseeing face, and saw!

"He saw the earth; he saw the skies, And that all-wondrous Child decreed A pagan nation to baptise, To give the Gentiles light indeed."

Thus Secknall sang. Far off and nigh The clansmen shouted loud and long; While every mother tossed more high Her babe, and glorying joined the song.



THE DISBELIEF OF MILCHO, OR, SAINT PATRICK'S ONE FAILURE.

ARGUMENT.

Fame of St. Patrick goes ever before him, and men of goodwill believe gladly; but Milcho, a mighty merchant, and one given wholly to pride and greed, wills to disbelieve. St. Patrick sends him greeting and gifts; but he, discovering that the prophet welcomed by all had once been his slave, hates him the more. Notwithstanding, he fears that when that prophet arrives, he, too, may be forced to believe, though against his will. He resolves to set fire to his castle and all his wealth, and make new fortunes in far lands. The doom of Milcho, who willed to disbelieve.

When now at Imber Dea that precious bark Freighted with Erin's future, touched the sands Just where a river, through a woody vale Curving, with duskier current clave the sea, Patrick, the Island's great inheritor, His perilous voyage past, stept forth and knelt And blessed his God. The peace of those green meads Cradled 'twixt purple hills and purple deep, Seemed as the peace of heaven. The sun had set; But still those summits twinned, the "Golden Spears," Laughed with his latest beam. The hours went by: The brethren paced the shore or musing sat, But still their Patriarch knelt and still gave thanks For all the marvellous chances of his life Since those his earlier years when, slave new-trapped, He comforted on hills of Dalaraide His hungry heart with God, and, cleansed by pain, In exile found the spirit's native land. Eve deepened into night, and still he prayed: The clear cold stars had crowned the azure vault; And, risen at midnight from dark seas, the moon Had quenched those stars, yet Patrick still prayed on: Till from the river murmuring in the vale, Far off, and from the morning airs close by That shook the alders by the river's mouth, And from his own deep heart a voice there came, "Ere yet thou fling'st God's bounty on this land There is a debt to cancel. Where is he, Thy five years' lord that scourged thee for his swine? Alas that wintry face! Alas that heart Joyless since earliest youth! To him reveal it! To him declare that God who Man became To raise man's fall'n estate, as though a man, All faculties of man unmerged, undimmed, Had changed to worm and died the prey of worms, That so the mole might see!"

Thus Patrick mused Not ignorant that from low beginnings rise Oftenest the works of greatness; yet of this Unweeting, that his failure, one and sole Through all his more than mortal course, even now Before that low beginning's threshold lay, Betwixt it and that Promised Land beyond A bar of scandal stretched. Not otherwise Might whatsoe'er was mortal in his strength Dying, put on the immortal.

With the morn Deep sleep descended on him. Waking soon, He rose a man of might, and in that might Laboured; and God His servant's toil revered; And gladly on that coast Erin to Christ Paid her firstfruits. Three days he preached his Lord: The fourth embarking, cape succeeding cape They passed, and heard the lowing herds remote In hollow glens, and smelt the balmy breath Of gorse on golden hillsides; till at eve, The Imber Domnand reached, on silver sands Grated their keel. Around them flocked at dawn Warriors with hunters mixed, and shepherd youths And maids with lips as red as mountain berries And eyes like sloes, or keener eyes, dark-fringed And gleaming like the blue-black spear. They came With milk-pail, and with kid, and kindled fire And spread the genial board. Upon that shore Full many knelt and gave themselves to Christ, Strong men, and men at midmost of their hopes By sickness felled; old chiefs, at life's dim close That oft had asked, "Beyond the grave what hope?" Worn sailors weary of the toilsome seas, And craving rest; they, too, that sex which wears The blended crowns of Chastity and Love; Wondering, they hailed the Maiden-Motherhood; And listening children praised the Babe Divine, And passed Him, each to each.

Ere long, once more Their sails were spread. Again by grassy marge They rowed, and sylvan glades. The branching deer Like flying gleams went by them. Oft the cry Of fighting clans rang out: but oftener yet Clamour of rural dance, or mart confused With many-coloured garb and movements swift, Pageant sun-bright: or on the sands a throng Girdled with circle glad some bard whose song Shook the wild clan as tempest shakes the woods. Still north the wanderers sailed: at evening, mists Cumbered the shore and on them leaned the blast, And fierce rain flashed mingling with dim-lit sea. All night they toiled; next day at noon they kenned A seaward stream that shone like golden tress Severed and random-thrown. That river's mouth Ere long attained was all with lilies white As April field with daisies. Entering there They reached a wood, and disembarked with joy: There, after thanks to God, silent they sat In thought, and watched the ripples, dusk yet bright, That lived and died like things that laughed at time, On gliding 'neath those many-centuried boughs. But, midmost, Patrick slept. Then through the trees, Shy as a fawn half-tamed now stole, now fled A boy of such bright aspect faery child He seemed, or babe exposed of royal race: At last assured beside the Saint he stood, And dropped on him a flower, and disappeared: Thus flower on flower from the great wood he brought And hid them in the bosom of the Saint. The monks forbade him, saying, "Lest thou wake The master from his sleep." But Patrick woke, And saw the boy, and said, "Forbid him not; The heir of all my kingdom is this child." Then spake the brethren, "Wilt thou walk with us?" And he, "I will:" and so for his sweet face They called his name Benignus: and the boy Thenceforth was Christ's. Beneath his parent's roof At night they housed. Nowhere that child would sleep Except at Patrick's feet. Till Patrick's death Unchanged to him he clave, and after reigned The second at Ardmacha.

Day by day They held their course; ere long the hills of Mourne Loomed through sea-mist: Ulidian summits next Before them rose: but nearer at their left Inland with westward channel wound the wave Changed to sea-lake. Nine miles with chant and hymn They tracked the gold path of the sinking sun; Then southward ran 'twixt headland and green isle And landed. Dewy pastures sunset-dazed, At leisure paced by mild-eyed milk-white kine Smiled them a welcome. Onward moved in sight Swiftly, with shadow far before him cast, Dichu, that region's lord, a martial man And merry, and a speaker of the truth. Pirates he deemed them first and toward them faced With wolf-hounds twain that watched their master's eye To spring, or not to spring. The imperious face Forbidding not, they sprang; but Patrick raised His hand, and stone-like crouched they chained and still: Then, Dichu onward striding fierce, the Saint Between them signed the Cross; and lo, the sword Froze in his hand, and Dichu stood like stone. The amazement past, he prayed the man of God To grace his house; and, side by side, a mile They clomb the hills. Ascending, Patrick turned, His heart with prescience filled. Beneath, there lay A gleaming strait; beyond, a dim vast plain With many an inlet pierced: a golden marge Girdled the water-tongues with flag and reed; But, farther off, a gentle sea-mist changed The fair green flats to purple. "Night comes on;" Thus Dichu spake, and waited. Patrick then Advanced once more, and Sabhall soon was reached, A castle half, half barn. There garnered lay Much grain, and sun-imbrowned: and Patrick said, "Here where the earthly grain was stored for man The bread of angels man shall eat one day." And Patrick loved that place, and Patrick said, "King Dichu, give thou to the poor that grain, To Christ, our Lord, thy barn." The strong man stood In doubt; but prayers of little orphaned babes Reared by his hand, went up for him that hour: Therefore that barn he ceded, and to Christ By Patrick was baptised. Where lay the corn A convent later rose. There dwelt he oft; And 'neath its roof more late the stranger sat, Exile, or kingdom-wearied king, or bard, That haply blind in age, yet tempest-rocked By memories of departed glories, drew With gradual influx into his old heart Solace of Christian hope.

With Dichu bode Patrick somewhile, intent from him to learn The inmost of that people. Oft they spake Of Milcho. "Once his thrall, against my will In earthly things I served him: for his soul Needs therefore must I labour. Hard was he; Unlike those hearts to which God's Truth makes way Like message from a mother in her grave: Yet what I can I must. Not heaven itself Can force belief; for Faith is still good will." Dichu laughed aloud: "Good will! Milcho's good will Neither to others, nor himself, good will Hath Milcho! Fireless sits he, winter through, The logs beside his hearth: and as on them Glimmers the rime, so glimmers on his face The smile. Convert him! Better thrice to hang him! Baptise him! He will film your font with ice! The cold of Milcho's heart has winter-nipt That glen he dwells in! From the sea it slopes Unfinished, savage, like some nightmare dream, Raked by an endless east wind of its own. On wolf's milk was he suckled not on woman's! To Milcho speed! Of Milcho claim belief! Milcho will shrivel his small eye and say He scorns to trust himself his father's son, Nor deems his lands his own by right of race But clutched by stress of brain! Old Milcho's God Is gold. Forbear him, sir, or ere you seek him Make smooth your way with gold."

Thus Dichu spake; And Patrick, after musings long, replied: "Faith is no gift that gold begets or feeds, Oftener by gold extinguished. Unto God, Unbribed, unpurchased, yearns the soul of man; Yet finds perforce in God its great reward. Not less this Milcho deems I did him wrong, His slave, yet fleeing. To requite that loss Gifts will I send him first by messengers Ere yet I see his face."

Then Patrick sent His messengers to Milcho, speaking thus: "If ill befell thy herds through flight of mine Fourfold that loss requite I, lest, for hate Of me, thou disesteem my Master's Word. Likewise I sue thy friendship; and I come In few days' space, with gift of other gold Than earth concedes, the Tidings of that God Who made all worlds, and late His Face hath shown, Sun-like to man. But thou, rejoice in hope!"

Thus Patrick, once by man advised in part, Though wont to counsel with his God alone.

Meantime full many a rumour vague had vexed Milcho much musing. He had dealings large And distant. Died a chief? He sent and bought The widow's all; or sold on foodless shores For usury the leanest of his kine. Meantime, his dark ships and the populous quays With news still murmured. First from Imber Dea Came whispers how a sage had landed late, And how when Nathi fain had barred his way, Nathi that spurned Palladius from the land, That sage with levelled eyes, and kingly front Had from his presence driven him with a ban Cur-like and craven; how on bended knee Sinell believed, the royal man well-loved Descending from the judgment-seat with joy: And how when fishers spurned his brethren's quest For needful food, that sage had raised his rod, And all the silver harvest of blue streams Lay black in nets and sand. His wrinkled brow Wrinkling yet more, thus Milcho answer made: "Deceived are those that will to be deceived: This knave has heard of gold in river-beds, And comes a deft sand-groper; let him come! He'll toil ten years ere gold enough he finds To make a crooked torque."

From Tara next The news: "Laeghaire, the King, sits close in cloud Of sullen thought, or storms from court to court, Because the chiefest of the Druid race Locru, and Luchat prophesied long since That one day from the sea a Priest would come With Doctrine and a Rite, and dash to earth Idols, and hurl great monarchs from their thrones; And lo! At Imber Boindi late there stept A priest from roaring waves with Creed and Rite, And men before him bow." Then Milcho spake: "Not flesh enough from thy strong bones, Laeghaire, These Druids, ravens of the woods, have plucked, But they must pluck thine eyes! Ah priestly race, I loathe ye! 'Twixt the people and their King Ever ye rub a sore!" Last came a voice: "This day in Eire thy saying is fulfilled, Conn of the 'Hundred Battles,' from thy throne Leaping long since, and crying, 'O'er the sea The Prophet cometh, princes in his train, Bearing for regal sceptres bended staffs, Which from the land's high places, cliff and peak, Shall drag the fair flowers down!'" Scoffing he heard: "Conn of the 'Hundred Battles!' Had he sent His hundred thousand kernes to yonder steep And rolled its boulders down, and built a mole To fence my laden ships from spring-tide surge, Far kinglier pattern had he shown, and given More solace to the land."

He rose and turned With sideway leer; and printing with vague step Irregular the shining sands, on strode Toward his cold home, alone; and saw by chance A little bird light-perched, that, being sick, Plucked from the fissured sea-cliff grains of sand; And, noting, said, "O bird, when beak of thine From base to crown hath gorged this huge sea-wall, Then shall that man of Creed and Rite make null The strong rock of my will!" Thus Milcho spake, Feigning the peace not his.

Next day it chanced Women he heard in converse. Thus the first: "If true the news, good speed for him, my boy! Poor slaves by Milcho scourged on earth shall wear In heaven a monarch's crown! Good speed for her His little sister, not reserved like us To bend beneath these loads." To whom her mate: "Doubt not the Prophet's tidings! Not in vain The Power Unknown hath shaped us! Come He must, Or send, and help His people on their way. Good is He, or He ne'er had made these babes!" They passed, and Milcho said, "Through hate of me All men believe!" And straightway Milcho's face Grew bleaker than that crab-tree stem forlorn That hid him, wanner than that sea-sand wet That whitened round his foot down-pressed.

Time passed. One morn in bitter mockery Milcho mused: "What better laughter than when thief from thief Pilfers the pilfered goods? Our Druid thief Two thousand years hath milked and shorn this land; Now comes the thief outlandish that with him Would share milk-pail and fleece! O Bacrach old, To hear thee shout 'Impostor!'" Straight he went To Bacrach's cell hid in a skirt wind-shav'n Of low-grown wood, and met, departing thence, Three sailors sea-tanned from a ship late-beached. Within a corner huddled, on the floor, The Druid sat, cowering, and cold, and mazed: Sudden he rose, and cried, by conquering joy Clothed as with youth restored: "The God Unknown, That God who made the earth, hath walked the earth! This hour His Prophet treads the isle! Three men Have seen him; and their speech is true. To them That Prophet spake: 'Four hundred years ago, Sinless God's Son on earth for sinners died: Black grew the world, and graves gave up their dead.' Thus spake the Seer. Four hundred years ago! Mark well the time! Of Ulster's Druid race What man but yearly, those four hundred years, Trembled that tale recounting which with this Tallies as footprint with the foot of man? Four hundred years ago—that self-same day - Connor, the son of Nessa, Ulster's King, Sat throned, and judged his people. As he sat, Under clear skies, behold, o'er all the earth Swept a great shadow from the windless east; And darkness hung upon the air three hours; Dead fell the birds, and beasts astonied fled. Then to his Chief of Druids, Connor spake Whispering; and he, his oracles explored, Shivering made answer, 'From a land accursed, O King, that shadow sweeps; therein, this hour, By sinful men sinless God's Son is slain.' Then Ulster's king, down-dashing sceptre and crown, Rose, clamouring, 'Sinless! shall the sinless die?' And madness fell on him; and down that steep He rushed whereon the Emanian Palace stood, And reached the grove, Lambraidhe, with two swords, The sword of battle, and the sword of state, And hewed and hewed, crying, 'Were I but there Thus they should fall who slay that Sinless One;' And in that madness died. Old Erin's sons Beheld this thing; nor ever in the land Hath ceased the rumour, nor the tear for him Who, wroth at justice trampled, martyr died. And now we know that not for any dream He died, but for the truth: and whensoe'er The Prophet of that Son of God who died Sinless for sinners, standeth in this place, I, Bacrach, oldest Druid in this Isle, Will rise the first, and kiss his vesture's hem."

He spake; and Milcho heard, and without speech Departed from that house.

A later day When the wild March sunset, gone almost ere come, By glacial shower was hustled out of life, Under a blighted ash tree, near his house, Thus mused the man: "Believe, or Disbelieve! The will does both; Then idiot who would be For profitless belief to sell himself? Yet disbelief not less might work our bane! For, I remember, once a sickly slave Ill shepherded my flock: I spake him plain; 'When next, through fault of thine, the midnight wolf Worries my sheep, on yonder tree you hang:' The blear-eyed idiot looked into my face, And smiled his disbelief. On that day week Two lambs lay dead. I hanged him on a tree. What tree? this tree! Why, this is passing strange! For, three nights since, I saw him in a dream: Weakling as wont he stood beside my bed, And, clutching at his wrenched and livid throat, Spake thus, 'Belief is safest.'"

Ceased the hail To rattle on the ever barren boughs, And friendlier sound was heard. Beside his door Wayworn the messengers of Patrick stood, And showed the gifts, and held his missive forth. Then learned that lost one all the truth. That sage Confessed by miracles, that prophet vouched By warnings old, that seer by words of might Subduing all things to himself—that priest, None other was than the uncomplaining boy Five years his slave and swineherd! In him rage Burst forth, with fear commixed, as when a beast Strains in the toils. "Can I alone stand firm?" He mused; and next, "Shall I, in mine old age, Byword become—the vassal of my slave? Shall I not rather drive him from my door With wolf hounds and a curse?" As thus he stood He marked the gifts, and bade men bare them in, And homeward signed the messengers unfed.

But Milcho slept not all that night for thought, And, forth ere sunrise issuing, paced a moor Stone-roughened like the graveyard of dead hosts, Till noontide. Sudden then he stopt, and thus Discoursed within: "A plot from first to last, The fraudulent bondage, flight, and late return; For now I mind me of a foolish dream Chance-sent, yet drawn by him awry. One night Methought that boy from far hills drenched in rain Dashed through my halls, all fire. From hands and head, From hair and mouth, forth rushed a flaming fire White, like white light, and still that mighty flame Into itself took all. With hands outstretched I spurned it. On my cradled daughters twain It turned, and they were ashes. Then in burst The south wind through the portals of the house, Tempest rose-sweet, and blew those ashes forth Wide as the realm. At dawn I sought the knave; He glossed my vision thus: 'That fire is Faith - Faith in the God Triune, the God made Man, Sole light wherein I walk, and walking burn; And they that walk with me shall burn like me By Faith. But thou that radiance wilt repel, Housed through ill-will, in Error's endless night. Not less thy little daughters shall believe With glory and great joy; and, when they die, Report of them, like ashes blown abroad, Shall light far lands, and health to men of Faith Stream from their dust.' I drave the impostor forth: Perjured ere long he fled, and now returns To reap a harvest from his master's dream" - Thus mused he, while black shadow swept the moor. So day by day darker was Milcho's heart, Till, with the endless brooding on one thought, Began a little flaw within that brain Whose strength was still his boast. Was no friend nigh? Alas! what friend had he? All men he scorned; Knew truly none. In each, the best and sweetest Near him had ever pined, like stunted growth Dwarfed by some glacier nigh. The fifth day dawned: And inly thus he muttered, darkly pale: "Five days; in three the messengers returned: In three—in two—the Accursed will be here, Or blacken yonder Sleemish with his crew Descending. Then those idiots, kerne and slave - The mighty flame into itself takes all - Full swarm will fly to meet him! Fool! fool! fool! The man hath snared me with those gifts he sent; Else had I barred the mountains: now 'twere late, My people in revolt. Whole weeks his horde Will throng my courts, demanding board and bed, With hosts by Dichu sent to flout my pang, And sorer make my charge. My granaries sacked, My larder lean as ship six months ice-bound, The man I hate will rise, and open shake The invincible banner of his mad new Faith, Till all that hear him shout, like winds or waves, Belief; and I be left sole recusant; Or else perhaps that Fury who prevails At times o'er knee-joints of reluctant men, By magic imped, may crumble into dust By force my disbelief."

He raised his head, And lo, before him lay the sea far ebbed Sad with a sunset all but gone: the reeds Sighed in the wind, and sighed a sweeter voice Oft heard in childhood—now the last time heard: "Believe!" it whispered. Vain the voice! That hour, Stirred from the abyss, the sins of all his life Around him rose like night—not one, but all - That earliest sin which, like a dagger, pierced His mother's heart; that worst, when summer drouth Parched the brown vales, and infants thirsting died, While from full pail he gorged his swine with milk And flung the rest away. Sin-walled he stood: God's Angels could not pierce that cincture dread, Nor he look through it. Yet he dreamed he saw: His life he saw; its labours, and its gains Hard won, long-waited, wonder of his foes; The manifold conquests of a Will oft tried; Victory, Defeat, Retrieval; last, that scene Around him spread: the wan sea and grey rocks; And he was 'ware that on that self-same ledge He, Milcho, thirty years gone by, had stood, While pirates pushed to sea, leaving forlorn On that wild shore a scared and weeping boy, (His price two yearling kids and half a sheep) Thenceforth his slave.

Not sole he mused that hour. The Demon of his House beside him stood Upon that iron coast, and whispered thus: "Masterful man art thou for wit and strength; Yet girl-like standst thou brooding! Weave a snare! He comes for gold, this prophet. All thou hast Heap in thy house; then fire it! In far lands Build thee new fortunes. Frustrate thus shall he Stare but on stones, his destined vassal scaped."

So fell the whisper; and as one who hears And does, the stiff-necked man obsequious bent His strong will to a stronger, and returned, And gave command to heap within his house His stored up wealth—yea, all things that were his - Borne from his ships and granaries. It was done. Then filled he his huge hall with resinous beams Seasoned for far sea-voyage, and the ribs Of ocean-sundering vessels deep in sea; Which ended, to his topmost tower he clomb, And therein sat two days, with face to south, Clutching a brand; and oft through clenched teeth hissed, Hissed long, "Because I will to disbelieve." But ere the second sunset two brief hours, Where comfortless leaned forth that western ridge Long patched with whiteness by half melted snows, There crept a gradual shadow. Soon the man Discerned its import. There they hung—he saw them - That company detested; hung as when Storm-boding cloud on mountain hangs half way Scarce moving, and in fear the shepherd cries, "Would that the worse were come!" So dread to him Those Heralds of fair Peace! He gazed upon them With blood-shot eyes; a moment passed: he stood Sole in his never festal hall, and flung His lighted brand into that pile far forth, And smiled that smile men feared to see, and turned, And issuing faced the circle of his serfs That wondering gathered round in thickening mass, Eyeing that unloved House.

His place he chose Beside that blighted ash, fronting those towers Palled with red smoke, and muttered low, "So be it! Worse to be vassal to the man I hate," With hueless lips. His whole white face that hour Was scorched; and blistered was the dead tree's bark; Yet there he stood; and in that fiery light His life, no more triumphant, passed once more In underthought before him, while on spread The swift, contagious madness of that fire, And muttered thus, not knowing it, the man, "The mighty flame into itself takes all," Mechanic iteration. Not alone Stood he that hour. The Demon of his House By him once more and closer than of old, Stood, whispering thus, "Thy game is now played out; Henceforth a byword art thou—rich in youth - Self-beggared in old age." And as the wind Of that shrill whisper cut his listening soul, The blazing roof fell in on all his wealth, Hard-won, long-waited, wonder of his foes; And, loud as laughter from ten thousand fiends, Up rushed the fire. With arms outstretched he stood; Stood firm; then forward with a wild beast's cry He dashed himself into that terrible flame, And vanished as a leaf.

Upon a spur Of Sleemish, eastward on its northern slope, Stood Patrick and his brethren, travel-worn, When distant o'er the brown and billowy moor Rose the white smoke, that changed ere long to flame, From site unknown; for by the seaward crest That keep lay hidden. Hands to forehead raised, Wondering they watched it. One to other spake: "The huge Dalriad forest is afire Ere melted are the winter's snows!" Another, "In vengeance o'er the ocean Creithe or Pict, Favoured by magic, or by mist, have crossed, And fired old Milcho's ships." But Patrick leaned Upon his crosier, pale as the ashes wan Left by a burned out city. Long he stood Silent, till, sudden, fiercelier soared the flame Reddening the edges of a cloud low hung; And, after pause, vibration slow and stern Troubling the burthened bosom of the air, Upon a long surge of the northern wind Came up—a murmur as of wintry seas Far borne at night. All heard that sound; all felt it; One only know its import. Patrick turned; "The deed is done: the man I would have saved Is dead, because he willed to disbelieve."

Yet Patrick grieved for Milcho, nor that hour Passed further north. Three days on Sleemish hill He dwelt in prayer. To Tara's royal halls Then turned he, and subdued the royal house And host to Christ, save Erin's king, Laeghaire. But Milcho's daughters twain to Christ were born In baptism, and each Emeria named: Like rose-trees in the garden of the Lord Grew they and flourished. Dying young, one grave Received them at Cluanbrain. Healing thence To many from their relics passed; to more The spirit's happier healing, Love and Faith.



SAINT PATRICK AT TARA.

The King is wroth with a greater wrath Than the wrath of Nial or the wrath of Conn! From his heart to his brow the blood makes path, And hangs there, a red cloud, beneath his crown.

Is there any who knows not, from south to north, That Laeghaire to-morrow his birthday keeps? No fire may be lit upon hill or hearth Till the King's strong fire in its kingly mirth Up rushes from Tara's palace steeps!

Yet Patrick has lighted his Paschal fire At Slane—it is holy Saturday - And blessed his font 'mid the chaunting choir! From hill to hill the flame makes way; While the king looks on it his eyes with ire Flash red, like Mars, under tresses grey.

The chiefs and the captains with drawn swords rose: To avenge their Lord and the Realm they swore; The Druids rose and their garments tore; "The strangers to us and our Gods are foes!" Then the king to Patrick a herald sent, Who spake, 'Come up at noon and show Who lit thy fire and with what intent: These things the great king Laeghaire would know."

But Laeghaire had hid twelve men by the way, Who swore by the sun the Saint to slay.

When the waters of Boyne began to bask And fields to flash in the rising sun The Apostle Evangelist kept his Pasch, And Erin her grace baptismal won: Her birthday it was: his font the rock, He blessed the land, and he blessed his flock.

Then forth to Tara he fared full lowly: The Staff of Jesus was in his hand: Twelve priests paced after him chaunting slowly, Printing their steps on the dewy land. It was the Resurrection morn; The lark sang loud o'er the springing corn; The dove was heard, and the hunter's horn.

The murderers twelve stood by on the way; Yet they saw nought save the lambs at play.

A trouble lurked in the monarch's eye When the guest he counted for dead drew nigh: He sat in state at his palace gate; His chiefs and nobles were ranged around; The Druids like ravens smelt some far fate; Their eyes were gloomily bent on the ground. Then spake Laeghaire: "He comes—beware! Let none salute him, or rise from his chair!"

Like some still vision men see by night, Mitred, with eyes of serene command, Saint Patrick moved onward in ghostly white: The Staff of Jesus was in his hand; Twelve priests paced after him unafraid, And the boy, Benignus, more like a maid; Like a maid just wedded he walked and smiled, To Christ new plighted, that priestly child.

They entered the circle; their anthem ceased; The Druids their eyes bent earthward still: On Patrick's brow the glory increased As a sunrise brightening some sea-beat hill. The warriors sat silent: strange awe they felt: The chief bard, Dubtach, rose and knelt:

Then Patrick discoursed of the things to be When time gives way to eternity, Of kingdoms that fall, which are dreams not things, And the Kingdom built by the King of kings. Of Him he spake who reigns from the Cross; Of the death which is life, and the life which is loss; How all things were made by the Infant Lord, And the small hand the Magian kings adored. His voice sounded on like a throbbing flood That swells all night from some far-off wood, And when it ended—that wondrous strain - Invisible myriads breathed "Amen!"

While he spake, men say that the refluent tide On the shore by Colpa ceased to sink: They say that the white stag by Mulla's side O'er the green marge bending forbore to drink: That the Brandon eagle forgat to soar; That no leaf stirred in the wood by Lee: Such stupor hung the island o'er, For none might guess what the end would be.

Then whispered the king to a chief close by, "It were better for me to believe than die!"

Yet the king believed not; but ordinance gave That whoso would might believe that word: So the meek believed, and the wise, and brave, And Mary's Son as their God adored. And the Druids, because they could answer nought, Bowed down to the Faith the stranger brought. That day on Erin God poured His Spirit: Yet none like the chief of the bards had merit, Dubtach! He rose and believed the first, Ere the great light yet on the rest had burst.



SAINT PATRICK AND THE TWO PRINCESSES.

FEDELM "THE RED ROSE," AND ETHNA "THE FAIR."

Like two sister fawns that leap, Borne, as though on viewless wings, Down bosky glade and ferny steep To quench their thirst at silver springs, From Cruachan palace through gorse and heather, Raced the Royal Maids together. Since childhood thus the twain had rushed Each morn to Clebach's fountain-cell Ere earliest dawn the East had flushed To bathe them in its well: Each morn with joy their young hearts tingled; Each morn as, conquering cloud or mist, The first beam with the wavelet mingled, Mouth to mouth they kissed!

They stand by the fount with their unlooped hair - A hand each raises—what see they there? A white Form seated on Clebach stone; A kinglike presence: the monks stood nigh: Fronting the dawn he sat alone; On the star of morning he fixed his eye: That crozier he grasped shone bright; but brighter The sunrise flashed from Saint Patrick's mitre! They gazed without fear. To a kingdom dear From the day of their birth those Maids had been; Of wrong they had heard; but it came not near; They hoped they were dear to the Power unseen. They knelt when that Vision of Peace they saw; Knelt, not in fear, but in loving awe: The "Red Rose" bloomed like that East afar; The "Fair One" shone like that morning star.

Then Patrick rose: no word he said, But thrice he made the sacred Sign: At the first, men say that the demons fled; At the third flocked round them the Powers divine Unseen. Like children devout and good, Hands crossed on their bosoms, the maidens stood.

"Blessed and holy! This land is Eire: Whence come ye to her, and the king our sire?"

"We come from a Kingdom far off yet near Which the wise love well, and the wicked fear: We come with blessing and come with ban, We come from the Kingdom of God with man."

"Whose is that Kingdom? And say, therein Are the chiefs all brave, and the maids all fair? Is it clean from reptiles, and that thing, sin? Is it like this kingdom of King Laeghaire?"

"The chiefs of that kingdom wage war on wrong, And the clash of their swords is sweet as song; Fair are the maids, and so pure from taint The flash of their eyes turns sinner to saint; There reptile is none, nor the ravening beast; There light has no shadow, no end the feast."

"But say, at that feast hath the poor man place? Is reverence there for the old head hoar? For the cripple that never might join the race? For the maimed that fought, and can fight no more?"

"Reverence is there for the poor and meek; And the great King kisses the worn, pale cheek; And the King's Son waits on the pilgrim guest; And the Queen takes the little blind child to her breast: There with a crown is the just man crowned; But the false and the vengeful are branded and bound In knots of serpents, and flung without pity From the bastions and walls of the saintly City."

Then the eyes of the Maidens grew dark, as though That judgment of God had before them passed: And the two sweet faces grew dim with woe; But the rose and the radiance returned at last.

"Are gardens there? Are there streams like ours? Is God white-headed, or youthful and strong? Hang there the rainbows o'er happy bowers? Are there sun and moon and the thrush's song?"

"They have gardens there without noise or strife, And there is the Tree of immortal Life: Four rivers circle that blissful bound; And Spirits float o'er it, and Spirits go round: There, set in the midst, is the golden throne; And the Maker of all things sits thereon: A rainbow o'er-hangs him; and lo! therein The beams are His Holy Ones washed from sin."

As he spake, the hearts of the Maids beat time To music in heaven of peace and love; And the deeper sense of that lore sublime Came out from within them, and down from above; By degrees came down; by degrees came out: Who loveth, and hopeth, not long shall doubt.

"Who is your God? Is love on His brow? Oh how shall we love Him and find Him? How?" The pure cheek flamed like the dawn-touched dew: There was silence: then Patrick began anew. The princes who ride in your father's train Have courted your love, but sued in vain; - Look up, O Maidens; make answer free: What boon desire you, and what would you be?"

"Pure we would be as yon wreath of foam, Or the ripple which now yon sunbeams smite: And joy we would have, and a songful home; And one to rule us, and Love's delight."

"In love God fashioned whatever is, The hills, and the seas, and the skiey fires; For love He made them, and endless blis Sustains, enkindles, uplifts, inspires: That God is Father, and Son, and Spirit; And the true and spotless His peace inherit: And God made man, with his great sad heart, That hungers when held from God apart. Your sire is a King on earth: but I Would mate you to One who is Lord on high: There bride is maid: and her joy shall stand, For the King's Son hath laid on her head His hand." As he spake, the eyes of that lovely twain Grew large with a tearful but glorious light, Like skies of summer late cleared by rain, When the full-orbed moon will be soon in sight.

"That Son of the King—is He fairest of men? That mate whom He crowns—is she bright and blest? Does she chase the red deer at His side through the glen? Does she charm Him with song to His noontide rest?"

"That King's Son strove in a long, long war: His people He freed; yet they wounded Him sore; And still in His hands, and His feet, and His side, The scars of His sorrow are 'graved, deep-dyed."

Then the breasts of the Maidens began to heave Like harbour waves when beyond the bar The great waves gather, and wet winds grieve, And the roll of the tempest is heard afar.

"We will kiss, we will kiss those bleeding feet; On the bleeding hands our tears shall fall; And whatever on earth is dear or sweet, For that wounded heart we renounce them all.

"Show us the way to His palace-gate:" - "That way is thorny, and steep, and straight; By none can His palace-gate be seen, Save those who have washed in the waters clean."

They knelt; on their heads the wave he poured Thrice in the name of the Triune Lord: And he signed their brows with the Sign adored. On Fedelm the "Red Rose," on Ethna "The Fair," God's dew shone bright in that morning air: Some say that Saint Agnes, 'twixt sister and sister, As the Cross touched each, bent over and kissed her.

Then sang God's new-born Creatures, "Behold! We see God's City from heaven draw nigh: But we thirst for the fountains divine and cold: We must see the great King's Son, or die! Come, Thou that com'st! Our wish is this, That the body might die, and the soul, set free, Swell out, like an infant's lips, to the kiss Of the Lover who filleth infinity!"

"The City of God, by the water's grace, Ye see: alone, they behold His Face, Who have washed in the baths of Death their eyes, And tasted His Eucharist Sacrifice."

"Give us the Sacrifice!" Each bright head Bent toward it as sunflowers bend to the sun: They ate; and the blood from the warm cheek fled: The exile was over: the home was won: A starry darkness o'erflowed their brain: Far waters beat on some heavenly shore: Like the dying away of a low, sweet strain, The young life ebbed, and they breathed no more: In death they smiled, as though on the breast Of the Mother Maid they had found their rest.

The rumour spread: beside the bier The King stood mute, and his chiefs and court: The Druids dark-robed drew surlily near, And the Bards storm-hearted, and humbler sort: The "Staff of Jesus" Saint Patrick raised: Angelic anthems above them swept: There were that muttered; there were that praised: But none who looked on that marvel wept.

For they lay on one bed, like Brides new-wed, By Clebach well; and, the dirge days over, On their smiling faces a veil was spread, And a green mound raised that bed to cover. Such were the ways of those ancient days - To Patrick for aye that grave was given; And above it he built a church in their praise; For in them had Eire been spoused to heaven.



SAINT PATRICK AND THE CHILDREN OF FOCHLUT WOOD.

ARGUMENT.

Saint Patrick makes way into Fochlut wood by the sea, the oldest of Erin's forests, whence there had been borne unto him, then in a distant land, the Children's Wail from Erin. He meets there two young Virgins, who sing a dirge of man's sorrowful condition. Afterwards they lead him to the fortress of the king, their father. There are sung two songs, a song of Vengeance and a song of Lament; which ended, Saint Patrick makes proclamation of the Advent and of the Resurrection. The king and all his chiefs believe with full contentment.

One day as Patrick sat upon a stone Judging his people, Pagan babes flocked round, All light and laughter, angel-like of mien, Sueing for bread. He gave it, and they ate: Then said he, "Kneel;" and taught them prayer: but lo! Sudden the stag hounds' music dinned the wind; They heard; they sprang; they chased it. Patrick spake; "It was the cry of children that I heard Borne from the black wood o'er the midnight seas: Where are those children? What avails though Kings Have bowed before my Gospel, and in awe Nations knelt low, unless I set mine eyes On Fochlut Wood?" Thus speaking, he arose, And, journeying with the brethren toward the West, Fronted the confine of that forest old.

Then entered they that darkness; and the wood Closed as a cavern round them. O'er its roof Leaned roof of cloud, and hissing ran the wind, And moaned the trunks for centuries hollowed out Yet stalwart still. There, rooted in the rock, Stood the huge growths, by us unnamed, that frowned Perhaps on Partholan, the parricide, When that first Pagan settler fugitive Landed, a man foredoomed. Between the stems The ravening beast now glared, now fled. Red leaves, The last year's phantoms, rattled here and there. The oldest wood that ever grew in Eire Was Fochlut Wood, and gloomiest. Spirits of Ill Made it their palace, and its labyrinths sowed With poisons. Many a cave, with horrors thronged Within it yawned, and many a chasm unseen Waited the unwary treader. Cry of wolf Pierced the cold air, and gibbering ghosts were heard; And o'er the black marsh passed those wandering lights That lure lost feet. A thousand pathways wound From gloom to gloom. One only led to light: That path was sharp with flints.

Then Patrick mused, "O life of man, how dark a wood art thou! Erring how many track thee till Despair, Sad host, receives them in his crypt-like porch At nightfall." Mute he paced. The brethren feared; And fearing, knelt to God. Made strong by prayer Westward once more they trod that dark, sharp way Till deeper gloom announced the night, then slept Guarded by angels. But the Saint all night Watched, strong in prayer. The second day still on They fared, like mariners o'er strange seas borne, That keep in mist their soundings when the rocks Vex the dark strait, and breakers roar unseen. At last Benignus cried, "To God be praise! He sends us better omens. See! the moss Brightens the crag!" Ere long another spake: "The worst is past! This freshness in the air Wafts us a welcome from the great salt sea; Fair spreads the fern: green buds are on the spray, And violets throng the grass."

A few steps more Brought them to where, with peaceful gleam, there spread A forest pool that mirrored yew trees twain With beads like blood-drops hung. A sunset flash Kindled a glory in the osiers brown Encircling that still water. From the reeds A sable bird, gold-circled, slowly rose; But when the towering tree-tops he outsoared, Eastward a great wind swept him as a leaf. Serenely as he rose a music soft Swelled from afar; but, as that storm o'ertook him, The music changed to one on-rushing note O'ertaken by a second; both, ere long, Blended in wail unending. Patrick's brow, Listening that wail, was altered, and he spake: "These were the Voices that I heard when stood By night beside me in that southern land God's angel, girt for speed. Letters he bare Unnumbered, full of woes. He gave me one, Inscribed, 'The Wailing of the Irish Race;' And as I read that legend on mine ear Forth from a mighty wood on Erin's coast There rang the cry of children, 'Walk once more Among us; bring us help!'" Thus Patrick spake: Then towards that wailing paced with forward head.

Ere long they came to where a river broad, Swiftly amid the dense trees winding, brimmed The flower-enamelled marge, and onward bore Green branches 'mid its eddies. On the bank Two virgins stood. Whiter than earliest streak Of matin pearl dividing dusky clouds Their raiment; and, as oft in silent woods White beds of wind-flower lean along the earth-breeze, So on the river-breeze that raiment wan Shivered, back blown. Slender they stood and tall, Their brows with violets bound; while shone, beneath, The dark blue of their never-tearless eyes. Then Patrick, "For the sake of Him who lays His blessing on the mourners, O ye maids, Reveal to me your grief—if yours late sent, Or sped in careless childhood." And the maids: "Happy whose careless childhood 'scaped the wound:" Then she that seemed the saddest added thus: "Stranger! this forest is no roof of joy, Nor we the only mourners; neither fall Bitterer the widow's nor the orphan's tears Now than of old; nor sharper than long since That loss which maketh maiden widowhood. In childhood first our sorrow came. One eve Within our foster-parents' low-roofed house The winter sunset from our bed had waned: I slept, and sleeping dreamed. Beside the bed There stood a lovely Lady crowned with stars; A sword went through her heart. Down from that sword Blood trickled on the bed, and on the ground. Sorely I wept. The Lady spake: 'My child, Weep not for me, but for thy country weep; Her wound is deeper far than mine. Cry loud! The cry of grief is Prayer.' I woke, all tears; And lo! my little sister, stiff and cold, Sat with wide eyes upon the bed upright: That starry Lady with the bleeding heart She, too, had seen, and heard her. Clamour vast Rang out; and all the wall was fiery red; And flame was on the sea. A hostile clan Landing in mist, had fired our ships and town, Our clansmen absent on a foray far, And stricken many an old man, many a boy To bondage dragged. Oh night with blood redeemed! Upon the third day o'er the green waves rushed The vengeance winged, with axe and torch, to quit Wrong with new wrong, and many a time since then. That night sad women on the sea sands toiled, Drawing from wreck and ruin, beam or plank To shield their babes. Our foster-parents slain, Unheeded we, the children of the chief, Roamed the great forest. There we told our dream To children likewise orphaned. Sudden fear Smote them as though themselves had dreamed that dream, And back from them redoubled upon us; Until at last from us and them rang out - The dark wood heard it, and the midnight sea - A great and bitter cry."

"That cry went up, O children, to the heart of God; and He Down sent it, pitying, to a far-off land, And on into my heart. By that first pang Which left the eternal pallor in your cheeks, O maids, I pray you, sing once more that song Ye sang but late. I heard its long last note: Fain would I hear the song that such death died."

They sang: not scathless those that sing such song! Grief, their instructress, of the Muses chief To hearts by grief unvanquished, to their hearts Had taught a melody that neither spared Singer nor listener. Pale when they began, Paler it left them. He not less was pale Who, out of trance awaking, thanked them thus: "Now know I of that sorrow in you fixed; What, and how great it is, and bless that Power Who called me forth from nothing for your sakes, And sent me to this wood. Maidens, lead on! A chieftain's daughters ye; and he, your sire, And with him she who gave you your sweet looks (Sadder perchance than you in songless age) They, too, must hear my tidings. Once a Prince Went solitary from His golden throne, Tracking the illimitable wastes, to find One wildered sheep, the meanest of the flock, And on His shoulders bore it to that House Where dwelt His Sire. 'Good Shepherd' was His Name. My tidings these: heralds are we, footsore, That bring the heart-sore comfort."

On they paced, On by the rushing river without words. Beside the elder sister Patrick walked, Benignus by the younger. Fair her face; Majestic his, though young. Her looks were sad And awe-struck; his, fulfilled with secret joy, Sent forth a gleam as when a morn-touched bay Through ambush shines of woodlands. Soon they stood Where sea and river met, and trod a path Wet with salt spray, and drank the clement breeze, And saw the quivering of the green gold wave, And, far beyond, that fierce aggressor's bourn, Fair haunt for savage race, a purple ridge By rainy sunbeam gemmed from glen to glen, Dim waste of wandering lights. The sun, half risen, Lay half sea-couched. A neighbouring height sent forth Welcome of baying hounds; and, close at hand, They reached the chieftain's keep.

A white-haired man And long since blind, there sat he in his hall, Untamed by age. At times a fiery gleam Flashed from his sightless eyes; and oft the red Burned on his forehead, while with splenetic speech Stirred by ill news or memory stung, he banned Foes and false friend. Pleased by his daughters' tale, At once he stretched his huge yet aimless hands In welcome towards his guests. Beside him stood His mate of forty years by that strong arm From countless suitors won. Pensive her face: With parted youth the confidence of youth Had left her. Beauty, too, though with remorse, Its seat had half relinquished on a cheek Long time its boast, and on that willowy form, So yielding now, where once in strength upsoared The queenly presence. Tenderest grace not less Haunted her life's dim twilight—meekness, love - That humble love, all-giving, that seeks nought, Self-reverent calm, and modesty in age. She turned an anxious eye on him she loved; And, bending, kissed at times that wrinkled hand, By years and sorrows made his wife far more Than in her nuptial bloom. These two had lost Five sons, their hope, in war.

That eve it chanced High feast was holden in the chieftain's tower To solemnise his birthday. In they flocked, Each after each, the warriors of the clan, Not without pomp heraldic and fair state Barbaric, yet beseeming. Unto each Seat was assigned for deeds or lineage old, And to the chiefs allied. Where each had place Above him waved his banner. Not for this Unhonoured were the pilgrim guests. They sat Where, fed by pinewood and the seeded cone, The loud hearth blazed. Bathed were the wearied feet By maidens of the place and nurses grey, And dried in linen fragrant still with flowers Of years when those old nurses too were fair. And now the board was spread, and carved the meat, And jests ran round, and many a tale was told, Some rude, but none opprobrious. Banquet done, Page-led the harper entered, old, and blind: The noblest ranged his chair, and spread the mat; The loveliest raised his wine cup, one light hand Laid on his shoulder, while the golden hair Commingled with the silver. "Sing," they cried, "The death of Deirdre; or that desolate sire That slew his son, unweeting; or that Queen Who from her palace pacing with fixed eyes Stared at those heads in dreadful circle ranged, The heads of traitor-friends that slew her lord Then mocked the friend they murdered. Leal and true, The Bard who wrought that vengeance!" Thus he sang:



THE LAY OF THE HEADS.

The Bard returns to a stricken house: What shape is that he rears on high? A withe of the Willow, set round with Heads: They blot that evening sky.

A Widow meets him at the gates: What fixes thus that Widow's eye? She names the name; but she sees not the man, Nor beyond him that reddening sky.

"Bard of the Brand, thou Foster-Sire Of him they slew—their friend—my lord - What Head is that—the first—that frowns Like a traitor self-abhorred?"

"Daughter of Orgill wounded sore, Thou of the fateful eye serene, Fergus is he. The feast he made That snared thy Cuchullene."

"What Head is that—the next—half-hid In curls full lustrous to behold? They mind me of a hand that once I saw amid their gold."

"'Tis Manadh. He that by the shore Held rule, and named the waves his steeds: 'Twas he that struck the stroke accursed - Headless this day he bleeds."

"What Head is that close by—so still, With half-closed lids, and lips that smile? Methinks I know their voice: methinks HIS wine they quaffed erewhile!"

"'Twas he raised high that severed head: Thy head he raised, my Foster-Child! That was the latest stroke I struck: I struck that stroke, and smiled."

"What Heads are those—that twain, so like, Flushed as with blood by yon red sky?" "Each unto each, HIS Head they rolled; Red on that grass they lie."

"That paler twain, which face the East?" "Laegar is one; the other Hilt; Silent they watched the sport! they share The doom, that shared the guilt."

"Bard of the Vengeance! well thou knew'st Blood cries for blood! O kind, and true, How many, kith and kin, have died That mocked the man they slew?"

"O Woman of the fateful eye, The untrembling voice, the marble mould, Seven hundred men, in house or field, For the man they mocked, lie cold."

"Their wives, thou Bard? their wives? their wives? Far off, or nigh, through Inisfail, This hour what are they? Stand they mute Like me; or make their wail?"

"O Eimer! women weep and smile; The young have hope, the young that mourn; But I am old; my hope was he: He that can ne'er return!

"O Conal! lay me in his grave: Oh! lay me by my husband's side: Oh! lay my lips to his in death;" She spake, and, standing, died.

She fell at last—in death she fell - She lay, a black shade, on the ground; And all her women o'er her wailed Like sea-birds o'er the drowned.

Thus to the blind chief sang that harper blind, Hymning the vengeance; and the great hall roared With wrath of those wild listeners. Many a heel Smote the rough stone in scorn of them that died Not three days past, so seemed it! Direful hands, Together dashed, thundered the Avenger's praise. At last the tide of that fierce tumult ebbed O'er shores of silence. From her lowly seat Beside her husband's spake the gentle Queen: "My daughters, from your childhood ye were still A voice of music in your father's house - Not wrathful music. Sing that song ye made Or found long since, and yet in forest sing, If haply Power Unknown may hear and help." She spake, and at her word her daughters sang.

"Lost, lost, all lost! O tell us what is lost? Behold, this too is hidden! Let him speak, If any knows. The wounded deer can turn And see the shaft that quivers in its flank; The bird looks back upon its broken wing; But we, the forest children, only know Our grief is infinite, and hath no name. What woman-prophet, shrouded in dark veil, Whispered a Hope sadder than Fear? Long since, What Father lost His children in the wood? Some God? And can a God forsake? Perchance His face is turned to nobler worlds new-made; Perchance his palace owns some later bride That hates the dead Queen's children, and with charm Prevails that they are exiled from his eyes, The exile's winter theirs—the exile's song.

"Blood, ever blood! The sword goes raging on O'er hill and moor; and with it, iron-willed, Drags on the hand that holds it and the man To slake its ceaseless thirst for blood of men; Fire takes the little cot beside the mere, And leaps upon the upland village: fire Up clambers to the castle on the crag; And whom the fire has spared the hunger kills; And earth draws all into her thousand graves.

"Ah me! the little linnet knows the branch Whereon to build; the honey-pasturing bee Knows the wild heath, and how to shape its cell; Upon the poisonous berry no bird feeds; So well their mother, Nature, helps her own. Mothers forsake not;—can a Father hate? Who knows but that He yearns—that Sire Unseen - To clasp His children? All is sweet and sane, All, all save man! Sweet is the summer flower, The day-long sunset of the autumnal woods; Fair is the winter frost; in spring the heart Shakes to the bleating lamb. O then what thing Might be the life secure of man with man, The infant's smile, the mother's kiss, the love Of lovers, and the untroubled wedded home? This might have been man's lot. Who sent the woe? Who formed man first? Who taught him first the ill way? One creature, only, sins; and he the highest!

"O Higher than the highest! Thou Whose hand Made us—Who shaped'st that hand Thou wilt not clasp, The eye Thou open'st not, the sealed-up ear! Be mightier than man's sin: for lo, how man Seeks Thee, and ceases not: through noontide cave And dark air of the dawn-unlighted peak To Thee how long he strains the weak, worn eye If haply he might see Thy vesture's hem On farthest winds receding! Yea, how oft Against the blind and tremulous wall of cliff Tormented by sea surge, he leans his ear If haply o'er it name of Thine might creep; Or bends above the torrent-cloven abyss, If falling flood might lisp it! Power unknown! He hears it not: Thou hear'st his beating heart That cries to Thee for ever! From the veil That shrouds Thee, from the wood, the cloud, the void, O, by the anguish of all lands evoked, Look forth! Though, seeing Thee, man's race should die, One moment let him see Thee! Let him lay At least his forehead on Thy foot in death!"

So sang the maidens: but the warriors frowned; And thus the blind king muttered, "Bootless weed Is plaint where help is none!" But wives and maids And the thick-crowding poor, that many a time Had wailed on war-fields o'er their brethren slain, Went down before that strain as river reeds Before strong wind, went down when o'er them passed Its last word, "Death;" and grief's infection spread From least to first; and weeping filled the hall. Then on Saint Patrick fell compassion great; He rose amid that concourse, and with voice And words now lost, alas, or all but lost, Such that the chief of sight amerced, beheld The imagined man before him crowned with light, Proclaimed that God who hideth not His face, His people's King and Father; open flung The portals of His realm, that inward rolled, With music of a million singing spheres Commanded all to enter. Who was He Who called the worlds from nought? His name is Love! In love He made those worlds. They have not lost, The sun his splendour, nor the moon her light: THAT miracle survives. Alas for thee! Thou better miracle, fair human love, That splendour shouldst have been of home and hearth, Now quenched by mortal hate! Whence come our woes But from our lusts? O desecrated law By God's own finger on our hearts engraved, How well art thou avenged! No dream it was, That primal greatness, and that primal peace: Man in God's image at the first was made, A God to rule below!

He told it all - Creation, and that Sin which marred its face; And how the great Creator, creature made, God—God for man incarnate—died for man: Dead, with His Cross he thundered on the gates Of Death's blind Hades. Then, with hands outstretched His Holy Ones that, in their penance prison From hope in Him had ceased not, to the light Flashed from His bleeding hands and branded brow Through darkness soared: they reign with Him in heaven: Their brethren we, the children of one Sire. Long time he spake. The winds forbore their wail; The woods were hushed. That wondrous tale complete, Not sudden fell the silence; for, as when A huge wave forth from ocean toiling mounts High-arched, in solid bulk, the beach rock-strewn, Burying his hoar head under echoing cliffs, And, after pause, refluent to sea returns Not all at once is stillness, countless rills Or devious winding down the steep, or borne In crystal leap from sea-shelf to sea-well, And sparry grot replying; gradual thus With lessening cadence sank that great discourse, While round him gazed Saint Patrick, now the old Regarding, now the young, and flung on each In turn his boundless heart, and gazing longed As only Apostolic heart can long To help the helpless.

"Fair, O friends, the bourn We dwell in! Holy King makes happy land: Our King is in our midst. He gave us gifts; Laws that are Love, the sovereignty of Truth. What, sirs, ye knew Him not! But ye by signs Foresaw His coming, as, when buds are red Ye say, 'The spring is nigh us.' Him, unknown, Each loved who loved his brother! Shepherd youths, Who spread the pasture green beneath your lambs And freshened it with snow-fed stream and mist? Who but that Love unseen? Grey mariners, Who lulled the rough seas round your midnight nets, And sent the landward breeze? Pale sufferers wan, Rejoice! His are ye; yea, and His the most! Have ye not watched the eagle that upstirs Her nest, then undersails her falling brood And stays them on her plumes, and bears them up Till, taught by proof, they learn their unguessed powers And breast the storm? Thus God stirs up His people; Thus proves by pain. Ye too, O hearths well-loved! How oft your sin-stained sanctities ye mourned! Wives! from the cradle reigns the Bethelem Babe! Maidens! henceforth the Virgin Mother spreads Her shining veil above you!

"Speak aloud, Chieftains world-famed! I hear the ancient blood That leaps against your hearts! What? Warriors ye! Danger your birthright, and your pastime death! Behold your foes! They stand before you plain: Ill passions, base ambitions, falsehood, hate: Wage war on these! A King is in your host! His hands no roses plucked but on the Cross: He came not hand of man in woman's tasks To mesh. In woman's hand, in childhood's hand, Much more in man's, He lodged His conquering sword; Them too His soldiers named, and vowed to war. Rise, clan of Kings, rise, champions of man's race, Heaven's sun-clad army militant on earth, One victory gained, the realm decreed is ours. The bridal bells ring out, for Low with High Is wed in endless nuptials. It is past, The sin, the exile, and the grief. O man, Take thou, renewed, thy sister-mate by hand; Know well thy dignity, and hers: return, And meet once more Thy Maker, for He walks Once more within thy garden, in the cool Of the world's eve!"

The words that Patrick spake Were words of power, not futile did they fall: But, probing, healed a sorrowing people's wound. Round him they stood, as oft in Grecian days, Some haughty city sieged, her penitent sons Thronging green Pnyx or templed Forum hushed Hung listening on that People's one true Voice, The man that ne'er had flattered, ne'er deceived, Nursed no false hope. It was the time of Faith; Open was then man's ear, open his heart: Pride spurned not then that chiefest strength of man The power, by Truth confronted, to believe. Not savage was that wild, barbaric race: Spirit was in them. On their knees they sank, With foreheads lowly bent; and when they rose Such sound went forth as when late anchored fleet Touched by dawn breeze, shakes out its canvas broad And sweeps into new waters. Man with man Clasped hands; and each in each a something saw Till then unseen. As though flesh-bound no more, Their souls had touched. One Truth, the Spirit's life, Lived in them all, a vast and common joy. And yet as when, that Pentecostal morn, Each heard the Apostle in his native tongue, So now, on each, that Truth, that Joy, that Life Shone forth with beam diverse. Deep peace to one Those tidings seemed, a still vale after storm; To one a sacred rule, steadying the world; A third exulting saw his youthful hope Written in stars; a fourth triumphant hailed The just cause, long oppressed. Some laughed, some wept: But she, that aged chieftain's mournful wife Clasped to her boding breast his hoary head Loud clamouring, "Death is dead; and not for long That dreadful grave can part us." Last of all, He too believed. That hoary head had shaped Full many a crafty scheme: —behind them all Nature held fast her own.

O happy night! Back through the gloom of centuries sin-defaced With what a saintly radiance thou dost shine! They slept not, on the loud-resounding shore In glory roaming. Many a feud that night Lay down in holy grave, or, mockery made, Was quenched in its own shame. Far shone the fires Crowning dark hills with gladness: soared the song; And heralds sped from coast to coast to tell How He the Lord of all, no Power Unknown But like a man rejoicing in his house, Ruled the glad earth. That demon-haunted wood, Sad Erin's saddest region, yet, men say, Tenderest for all its sadness, rang at last With hymns of men and angels. Onward sailed High o'er the long, unbreaking, azure waves A mighty moon, full-faced, as though on winds Of rapture borne. With earliest red of dawn Northward once more the winged war-ships rushed Swift as of old to that long hated shore - Not now with axe and torch. His Name they bare Who linked in one the nations.

On a cliff Where Fochlut's Wood blackened the northern sea A convent rose. Therein those sisters twain Whose cry had summoned Patrick o'er the deep, Abode, no longer weepers. Pallid still, In radiance now their faces shone; and sweet Their psalms amid the clangour of rough brine. Ten years in praise to God and good to men That happy precinct housed them. In their morn Grief had for them her great work perfected; Their eve was bright as childhood. When the hour Came for their blissful transit, from their lips Pealed forth ere death that great triumphant chant Sung by the Virgin Mother. Ages passed; And, year by year, on wintry nights, THAT song Alone the sailors heard—a cry of joy.



SAINT PATRICK AND KING LAEGHAIRE.

"Thou son of Calphurn, in peace go forth! This hand shall slay them whoe'er shall slay thee! The carles shall stand to their necks in earth Till they die of thirst who mock or stay thee!

"But my father, Nial, who is dead long since, Permits not me to believe thy word; For the servants of Jesus, thy heavenly Prince, Once dead, lie flat as in sleep, interred: But we are as men that through dark floods wade; We stand in our black graves undismayed; Our faces are turned to the race abhorred, And at each hand by us stand spear or sword, Ready to strike at the last great day, Ready to trample them back into clay!

"This is my realm, and men call it Eire, Wherein I have lived and live in hate Like Nial before me and Erc his sire, Of the race Lagenian, ill-named the Great!"

Thus spake Laeghaire, and his host rushed on, A river of blood as yet unshed: - At noon they fought: and at set of sun That king lay captive, that host lay dead!

The Lagenian loosed him, but bade him swear He would never demand of them Tribute more: So Laeghaire by the dread "God-Elements" swore, By the moon divine and the earth and air; He swore by the wind and the broad sunshine That circle for ever both land and sea, By the long-backed rivers, and mighty wine, By the cloud far-seeing, by herb and tree, By the boon spring shower, and by autumn's fan, By woman's breast, and the head of man, By Night and the noonday Demon he swore He would claim the Boarian Tribute no more.

But with time wrath waxed; and he brake his faith: Then the dread "God-Elements" wrought his death; For the Wind and Sun-Strength by Cassi's side Came down and smote on his head that he died. Death-sick three days on his throne he sate; Then died, as his father died, great in hate.

They buried their king upon Tara's hill, In his grave upright—there stands he still: Upright there stands he as men that wade By night through a castle-moat, undismayed; On his head is the crown, the spear in his hand; And he looks to the hated Lagenian land.

Such rites in the time of wrath and wrong Were Eire's: baptised, they were hers no longer: For Patrick had taught her his sweet new song, "Though hate is strong, yet love is stronger."

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