Anna Johnston MacManus (1866-1902 / Ireland)
Art The Lonely
The berried quicken-branches lament in lonely sighs,
Through open doorways of the dún a lonely wet wind cries,
And lonely in the hall he sits with feasting warriors round,
The harp that lauds his fame in fights hath a lonely sound,
The press of battle and the clang of striking spears
Set a lonely echo ringing for ever in his ears;
Amid the hunting-band he goes dream-stricken in the dawn–
The red deer and the baying hounds seem phantoms hurrying on.
The speckled salmon, too, darts lonely in the pool,
The swan floats lonely with her brood in shallows cool,
His steeds–the swift and gentle–are lonely in their stall,
The sorrow of his loneliness weighs heavy over all.
For in the house of Tara three shadows share the feast,
Conn sits within the High-King's place, against the East,
And Crionna whispers to his hound some memory of the chase,
While Connla to the harping turns a joyous listening face.
Ah, woe! the cairn is over Conn–his hundred battles done,
And in his sleeping Crionna lies, hidden from the sun;
But on a blue mysterious wave Prince Connla sailed away,
Nor hath an eye in Éire beheld him since that day.
His yellow hair hath silver stars to crown it now,
And silver blossoms kiss his cheek at bending of the bough,
And the spell that lays forgetfulness of earth on earthly things
Blows sweetly down enchanted air from whirring fairy wings.
: : : : : : : :
Yet Art the King waits ever a footfall on the floor,
A radiant form between the carven pillars of his door,
His druids in their praying chant softly Connla's name.
And Crionna's boyish beauty, and Conn's enduring fame.
For sake of these his yearning heart to welcome Death is fain,
His hand moves idly at the chess; joy spreads its lure in vain;
His grieving gaze is seeking from morn till eventide
The eyes of two who sleep the Sleep; and of one who never died.
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