Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Aideen's Grave (Author: Samuel Ferguson)
- They heaved the stone; they heap'd the cairn:
Said Ossian "In a queenly grave
We leave her, 'mong her fields of fern
Between the cliff and wave.
- "The cliff behind stands clear and bare,
And bare, above, the heathery steep
Scales the clear heaven's expanse, to where
The Danaan Druids sleep.
- "And all the sands that, left and right,
The grassy isthmus-ridge confine,
in yellow bars le bared and bright
Among the sparkling brine.
- "A clear pure air pervades the scene,
In loneliness and awe secure;
Meet spot to sepulchre a Queen
Who in her life was pure.
- "Here, far from camp and chase removed,
Apart in Nature's quiet room,
The music that alive she loved
Shall cheer her in the tomb.
- "The humming of the noontide bees,
The lark's loud carol all day long,
And, borne on evening's salted breeze,
The clanking sea bird's song
- "Shall round her airy chamber float,
And with the whispering winds and steams
Attune to Nature's tenderest note
The tenor of her dreams.
- "And oft, at tranquil eve's decline
When full tides lip the Old Green Plain,
The lowing of Moynalty's kine
Shall round her breathe again,
- "In sweet remembrance of the days
When, duteous, in the lowly vale
Unconscious of my Oscar's gale,
She fill'd the fragrant pail,
- "And, duteous, from the running brook
Drew water for the bath; nor deem'd
A king did on her labour look,
And she a fairy seem'd.
- "But when the wintry frosts begin,
And in their long-drawn, lofty flight,
The wild geese with their airy din
Distend the ear of night,
- "And whne the fierce De Danaan ghosts
At midnight from their peak come down,
When all around the enchanted coasts
Despairing strangers drown;
- "When, mingling with the wreckful wail,
From low Clontarf's wave-trampled floor
Comes booming up the burthen'd gale
The angry Sand-Bull's roar;
- "Or, angrier than the sea, the shout
Of Erin's hosts in wrath combined,
When Terror heads Oppression's rout,
And Freedom cheers behind:
- "Then o'er our lady's placid dream,
Where safe from storms she sleeps, may steal
Such jo as will not misbeseem
A Queen of men to feel:
- "Such thrill of free, defiant pride,
As rapt her in her battle car
At Gavra, when by Oscar's side
She rode the ridge of war,
- "Exulting, down the shouting troops,
And through the thick confronting kings,
With hands on all their javelin loops
And shafts on all their strings;
- "E'er closed the inseparable crowds,
No more to part for me, and show,
As bursts the sun through scattering clouds,
My Oscar issuing so.
- "No more, dispelling battle's gloom
Shall son for me from fight return;
The great green rath's ten-acred tomb
Lies heavy on his urn.
- "A cup of bodkin-pencill'd clay
Holds Oscar; mighty heart and limb
One handful now of ashes grey:
And she has died for him.
- "And here, hard by her natal bower
On lone Ben Edar's side, we strive
With lifted rock and sign of power
To keep her name alive.
- "That while, from circling year to year,
Her Ogham-letter'd stone is seen,
The Gael shall say, 'Our Fenians here
Entomb's their loved Aideen.'
- "The Ogham from her pillar stone
In tract of time will wear away;
Her name at last be only know
In Ossian's echo'd lay.
- "The long forgotten lay I sing
May only ages hence revive,
(As eagle with a wounded wing
To soar again might strive,)
- "Imperfect, in an alien speech,
When, wandering here, some child of chance
Through pangs of keen delight shall reach
The gift of utterance,
- "To speak the air, the sky to speak,
The freshness of the hill to tell,
Who, roaming bare Ben Edar's peak
And Aideen's briary dell,
- "And gazing on the Cromlech vast,
And on the mountain and the sea,
Shall catch communion with the past
And mix himself with me.
- "Child of the Future's doubtful night,
Wate'er your speech, whoe'r your sires,
Sing while you may with frank delight
The song your house inspires.
- "Sing while you may, nor grieve to know
The song you sing shall also die;
Atharna's lay has perish'd so,
Though once it thrill'd this sky.
- "Above us, from his rocky chair,
There, where Ben Edar's landward crest
O'er eastern Bregia bends, to where
Dun Almon crowns the west:
- "And all that felt the fretted air
Throughout the song-distemper'd clime,
Did droop, till suppliant Leinster's prayer
Appeased the vengeful rhyme.
- "Ah me, or e'er the hour arrive
Shall bid my long-forgotten tones,
Unknown One, on your lips revive,
Here, by these moss-grown stones,
- "What change shall o'er the scene have cross'd;
What conquering lords anew have come;
What lore-arm'd, mightier Druid host
From Gaul or distant Rome!
- "What arts of death, what ways of life,
What creeds unknown to bard or seer,
Shall round your careless steps be rife,
Who pause and ponder here;
- "And, haply, where yon curlew calls
Athwart the marsh, 'mid groves and bowers
See rise some mighty chieftain's halls
With unimagined towers:
- "And baying hounds, and coursers bright,
And burnish'd cars of dazzling sheen,
With courtly train of dame and knight,
Where now the fern is green.
- "Or, by yon prostrate altar-stone
May kneel, perchance, and, free from blame,
Hear holy men with rites unknown
New names of God proclaim.
- "Let change as may the Name of Awe,
Let rite surcease and altar fall,
The same One God remains, a law
For ever and for all.
- "Let change as may the face of earth,
Let alter all the social frame,
For mortal men the ways of birth
And death are still the same.
- "And still, as life and time wear on,
The children of the waning days,
(Though strength be from their shoulders gone
To lift the loads we raise,)
- "Shall weep to do the burial rites
Of lost ones loved; and fondly found,
In shadow of the gathering nights,
The monumental mound.
- "Farewell! The strength of men is worn;
The night approaches dark and chill:
Sleep, till perchance an endless morn
Descend the glittering hill."
- Of Oscar and Aideen bereft,
So Ossian sang. The Fenians sped
Three mighty shouts to heaven; and left
Ben Edar to the dead.