Isabella Valancy Crawford
My Irish Love - Poem by Isabella Valancy Crawford
Beside the saffron of a curtain, lit
With broidered flowers, below a golden fringe
That on her silver shoulder made a glow,
Like the sun kissing lilies in the dawn;
She sat--my Irish love--slim, light and tall.
Between his mighty paws her stag-hound held,
(Love-jealous he) the foam of her pale robes,
Rare laces of her land, and his red eyes,
Half lov'd me, grown familiar at her side,
Half pierc'd me, doubting my soul's right to stand
His lady's wooer in the courts of Love.
Above her, knitted silver, fell a web
Of light from waxen tapers slipping down,
First to the wide-winged star of em'ralds set
On the black crown with its blue burnish'd points
Of raven light; thence, fonder, to the cheek
O'er which flew drifts of rose-leaves wild and rich,
With lilied pauses in the wine-red flight;
For when I whispered, like a wind in June,
My whisper toss'd the roses to and fro
In her dear face, and when I paus'd they lay
Still in her heart. Then lower fell the light.
A silver chisel cutting the round arm
Clear from the gloom; and dropped like dew
On the crisp lily, di'mond clasp'd, that lay
In happy kinship on her pure, proud breast,
And thence it sprang like Cupid, nimble-wing'd,
To the quaint love-ring on her finger bound
And set it blazing like a watch-fire, lit
To guard a treasure. Then up sprang the flame
Mad for her eyes, but those grey worlds were deep
In seas of native light: and when I spoke
They wander'd shining to the shining moon
That gaz'd at us between the parted folds
Of yellow, rich with gold and daffodils,
Dropping her silver cloak on Innisfail.
O worlds, those eyes! there Laughter lightly toss'd
His gleaming cymbals; Large and most divine
Pity stood in their crystal doors with hands
All generous outspread; in their pure depths
Mov'd Modesty, chaste goddess, snow-white of brow,
And shining, vestal limbs; rose-fronted stood
Blushing, yet strong; young Courage, knightly in
His virgin arms, and simple, russet Truth
Play'd like a child amongst her tender thoughts--
Thoughts white as daisies snow'd upon the lawn.
Unheeded, Dante on the cushion lay,
His golden clasps yet lock'd--no poet tells
The tale of Love with such a wizard tongue
That lovers slight dear Love himself to list.
Our wedding eve, and I had brought to her
The jewels of my house new set for her
(As I did set the immemorial pearl
Of our old honour in the virgin gold
Of her high soul) with grave and well pleased eyes,
And critic lips, and kissing finger tips,
She prais'd the bright tiara and its train
Of lesser splendours--nor blush'd nor smil'd:
They were but fitting pages to her state,
And had no tongues to speak between our souls.
But I would have her smile ripe for me then,
Swift treasure of a moment--so I laid
Between her palms a little simple thing,
A golden heart, grav'd with my name alone,
And round it, twining close, small shamrocks link'd
Of gold, mere gold: no jewels made it rich,
Until twin di'monds shatter'd from her eyes
And made the red gold rare. 'True Knight,' she said,
'Your English heart with Irish shamrocks bound!'
'A golden prophet of eternal truth,'
I said, and kissed the roses of her palms,
And then the shy, bright roses of her lips,
And all the jealous jewels shone forgot
In necklace and tiara, as I clasp'd
The gold heart and its shamrocks round her neck.
My fair, pure soul! My noble Irish love!
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