Winter’s Death

A Poem of our time

 

Winter 1As thus the snows arise; and foul, and fierce, 
All winter drives along the darkened air; 
In his own loose revolving fields, the swain 
Disaster’d stands; sees other hills ascend, 
Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, 
Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain: 
Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid 
Beneath the formless wild; but wanders on 
From hill to dale, still more and more astray, 
Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, 
Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of home 
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth 
In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul! 
Winter 4What black despair, what horror fills his breast! 
When for the dusky spot, which fancy feign’d 
His tufted cottage rising through the snow, 
He meets the roughness of the middle waste 
Far from the track and blest abode of man, 
While round him might resistless closes fast, 
And every tempest, howling o’er his head, 
Renders the savage wildness more wild. 
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind, 
Of covered pits unfathomably deep, 
A dire descent! beyond the power of frost; 
Of faithless bogs; Of precipices huge 
Smoothed up with snow; and what is land, unknown, 
What water of the still unfrozen spring, In the loose marsh or solitary lake, 
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. 
These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks 
Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, 
Thinking o’er all the bitterness of death, 
Mix’d with the tender anguish nature shoots 
Through the wrung bosom of the dying man—
His wife—his children—and his friends unseen. 
In vain for him the officious wife prepares 
The fire, fair, blazing, and the vestment warm. 
In vain his little children, peeping out 
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire 
With tears of artless innocence. Alas! 
Nor wife, nor children more shall he behold—
Nor friends, nor sacred home. On every nerve 
The deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense, 
And, o’er his inmost vitals creeping cold, 
Lays him along the snows, a stiffened corpse, 
Stretch’d out, and bleaching in the northern  blast.
Winter 2
ANONYMOUS IRISH POET

Sisters

There are occasions when you come across some lovely pieces of poetry when you study folklore and customs. The following is a poem I picked up a few weeks ago and thought it was so nice that I should share it with you. As for the author, all I know is that it is by a 19th Century Poet/Poetess. Please enjoy…

The day had gone as fades a dream;

The night had come, and rain fell fast;

While o’er the black and sluggish stream

Cold blew the wailing blast.

In pensive mood I idly raised

The curtain from the rain-splashed glass,

And as into the street I gazed,

I saw two women pass.

One shivering with the bitter cold,

Her garments heavy with the rain,

Limped by with features wan and old,

Deep farrowed by sharp pain.

A child in form, a child in years;

But from her piteous pallid face,

The weariness of life with tears

Had washed all childlike grace.

And as she passed me faint and weak,

I heard her slowly say, as though

With throbbing heart about to break:

‘”Move on!” Where shall I go?’

The other, who on furs reclined,

In brougham was driven to the play;

No thought within her vacant mind

Of those in rags that day:

With unmoved heart and idle stare,

Passed by the beggar in the street,

Who lifted up her hands in prayer,

Some charity to meet.

Both vanished in the murky night:

The outcast on a step to die;

The lady to a scene of light,

Where Joy alone did sigh.

But angels saw amid her hair

What was by human eyes unseen;

The grass that grows on graves was there,

With leaves of ghastly green.

And though her diamonds flashed the light

Upon the flatterers gathered near,

The outcast’s brow had gem more bright –

An angel’s pitying tear.

An Unknown 19th Century Irish Poet

OLD SKIBBEREEN

Old Skibbereen

By Patrick Carpenter

Air: ‘The Wearing of the Green’

A Young American and his Irish Father

Old Skibbereen

“O! father, dear, I’ve often heard you speak of Erin’s Isle –

Its scenes how bright and beautiful, how “rich and rare” they smile;

You say it is a lovely land in which a Prince might dwell,

Then why did you abandon it, the reason to me tell?”

 

“My Son, I’ve loved my native land with fervour and with pride –

Her peaceful groves, her mountains rude, her valleys green and wide,

And there I’ve roamed in manhood’s prime, and sported when a boy,

My Shamrock and shillelagh sure my constant boast and Joy.

 

“But lo! A blight came o’er my crops, my sheep and cattle died,

The rack-rent too, alas! was due I could not have supplied;

The landlord drove me from my cot where born I had been,

And that, my boy’s the reason why I left old Skibbereen –

 

“O! what a dreadful sight it was that dark November day;

The Sheriff and the Peelers came to send us all away;

They set the roof a-blazing with a demon smile of spleen,

And when it fell, the crash was heard all over Skibbereen.

 

“Your Mother dear, God rest her, fell upon the snowy ground,

She fainted in her anguish at the desolation round; –

She never rose, but passed away from life’s tumultuous scene,

And found a quiet grave to rest in poor old Skibbereen.

 

“Ah! I sadly recall that year of gloomy ’48;

I rose in vengeance with “the boys” to battle against fate;

We were hunted thro’ the mountains wild, as traitors to the Queen, –

And that, my boy’s the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

 

“You then were only two years old, and feeble was your frame,

I would not leave you with my friends – you bore my father’s name! –

I wrapped you in my ‘Catamore’ at dead of night unseen,

Then heav’d a sigh, and bade good-by to poor old Skibbereen.

 

“O! Father, Father, when the day for vengeance we will call, –

When Irishmen o’er field and fen shall rally one and all, –

I’ll be the man to lead the van beneath the flag of green,

While loud on high we’ll raise the cry – Revenge for Skibbereen!”