John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

An Old Picture - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

THERE are times when a dream delicious
Steals into a musing hour,
Like a face with love capricious
That peeps from a woodland bower;
And one dear scene comes changeless;
A wooded hill and a river;
A deep, cool bend, where the lilies end,
And the elm-tree shadows quiver.

And I lie on the brink there, dreaming
That the life I live is a dream;
That the real is but the seeming,
And the true is the sun-flecked stream.
Beneath me, the perch and the bream sail past
In the dim cool depths of the river;
The struggling fly breaks the mirrored sky
And the elm-tree shadows quiver.

There are voices of children away on the hill;
There are bees thro' the flag-flowers humming;
The lighter-man calls to the lock, and the mill
On the farther side is drumming.
And I sink to sleep in my dream of a dream,
In the grass by the brink of a river,
Where the voices blend and the lilies end
And the elm-tree shadows quiver.

Like a gift from the past is the kindly dream,
For the sorrow and passion and pain
Are adrift like the leaves on the breast of the stream,
And the child-life comes again.
O, the sweet sweet pain of a joy that died—
Of a pain that is joy forever!
O, the life that died in the stormy tide
That was once my sun-flecked river.


Comments about An Old Picture by John Boyle O'Reilly

  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (12/22/2019 9:52:00 PM)

    an old picture reminds and tells the whole happy to sorrow story of the past (Report)Reply

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  • very well described moment of his childhood time. (12/22/2019 5:26:00 PM)

    I like the internal rhymes and the flow of the poetic words. (Report)Reply

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  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (12/22/2019 5:18:00 PM)

    Beautiful. A dream that steals in morning and leaves one with a desire to go back to sleep.......written with such lovely expressions and poetic rhythm. (Report)Reply

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  • Drtony BrahminDrtony Brahmin (12/22/2019 1:05:00 PM)

    Where the voices blend and the lilies end
    And the elm-tree shadows quiver.

    Like a gift from the past is the kindly dream,
    For the sorrow and passion and pain
    Are adrift like the leaves on the breast of the stream,
    And the child-life comes again.. very good poem.
    (Report)Reply

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  • Harley WhiteHarley White (12/22/2019 7:14:00 AM)

    This is a truly beautiful poem that flows lyrically and shows excellent craftsmanship... (Report)Reply

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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (8/8/2018 10:42:00 AM)

    as this poem begins using the phrase woodland bower, i think at first old fashioned. but right after with his description of the scene he returns to in memory, i definitely relate. i see no real confusion in O'Reilly in what is truly dream or memory and what is current reality. he speaks eloquently, however, to the importance of remembering for our perspective and sanity. -gk (Report)Reply

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  • Catherine HabbieCatherine Habbie (8/8/2018 9:15:00 AM)

    That the life I live is a dream... (Report)Reply

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  • Adrian FlettAdrian Flett (8/8/2018 4:30:00 AM)

    Beautiful thoughts woven into the rhyme and rhythm of this poem - fantastic (Report)Reply

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  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (8/8/2018 12:46:00 AM)

    excellently written -


    O, the sweet sweet pain of a joy that died—
    Of a pain that is joy forever!
    O, the life that died in the stormy tide
    That was once my sun-flecked river.

    greatly penned whole with imagery
    (Report)Reply

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  • Ruta MohapatraRuta Mohapatra (8/8/2018 12:37:00 AM)

    Great imagery mixed with a touch of sadness! Great poem! (Report)Reply

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  • Britte NinadBritte Ninad (8/8/2018 12:33:00 AM)

    excellent descriptive writings (Report)Reply

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  • Joshua AdeyemiJoshua Adeyemi (8/8/2017 5:34:00 PM)

    Bewitched with imagery, so lovely. Thanks for sharing this (Report)Reply

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  • Savita TyagiSavita Tyagi (8/8/2017 4:35:00 PM)

    Beautiful imagery with a sense of unhurried time spent with Nature dreaming and watching small happenings past by in slow motion. (Report)Reply

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  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (8/8/2017 2:08:00 PM)

    Gorgeous imagery! I'd paste my favorite lines here but then I'd be posting about 3/4 of the poem! (Report)Reply

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  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (8/8/2017 11:10:00 AM)

    And I lie on the brink there, dreaming
    That the life I live is a dream;
    That the real is but the seeming,
    And the true is the sun-flecked stream.... is just beautiful.
    A beautiful poem with sweet flow and rhyming. Feeling good while reading. Congrats.
    (Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (8/8/2017 10:56:00 AM)

    Memories! ! Of a pain that is joy forever! Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (8/8/2017 10:56:00 AM)

    Memories! ! Oder a pain that is joy forever! Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

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  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (8/8/2017 5:53:00 AM)

    Gorgeous poem with stunning expression..Thanks and congratulation to his soul. (Report)Reply

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  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (8/8/2017 3:29:00 AM)

    In the grass by the brink of a river,
    Where the voices blend and the lilies end
    And the elm-tree shadows quiver.

    Nice lines.....
    (Report)Reply

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  • Rajnish MangaRajnish Manga (8/8/2017 3:19:00 AM)

    That the life I live is a dream
    That the real is but the seeming,
    For the sorrow and passion and pain
    Are adrift like the leaves on the breast of the stream.... XXX.... Nostalgic images from the past. Thanks.
    (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 20, 2012



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