Denis Florence MacCarthy

(26 May 1817 - 7 April 1882 / Dublin / Ireland)

The Voyage Of St. Brendan A.D. 545 - The Promised Land - Poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy

As on this world the young man turns his eyes,
When forced to try the dark sea of the grave,
Thus did we gaze upon that Paradise,
Fading, as we were borne across the wave.
And, as a brighter world dawns by degrees
Upon Eternity's serenest strand,
Thus, having passed through dark and gloomy seas,
At length we reached the long-sought Promised Land.

The wind had died upon the Ocean's breast,
When, like a silvery vein through the dark ore,
A smooth bright current, gliding to the west,
Bore our light bark to that enchanted shore.
It was a lovely plain--spacious and fair,
And bless'd with all delights that earth can hold,
Celestial odours filled the fragrant air
That breathed around that green and pleasant wold.

There may not rage of frost, nor snow, nor rain,
Injure the smallest and most delicate flower,
Nor fall of hail wound the fair, healthful plain,
Nor the warm weather, nor the winter's shower.
That noble land is all with blossoms flowered,
Shed by the summer breezes as they pass;
Less leaves than blossoms on the trees are showered,
And flowers grow thicker in the fields than grass.

Nor hills, nor mountains, there stand high and steep,
Nor stony cliffs tower o'er the frightened waves,
Nor hollow dells, where stagnant waters sleep,
Nor hilly risings, nor dark mountain caves;
Nothing deformed upon its bosom lies,
Nor on its level breast rests aught unsmooth,
But the noble filed flourishes 'neath the skies,
Blooming for ever in perpetual youth.

That glorious land stands higher o'er the sea,
By twelve-fold fathom measure, than we deem
The highest hills beneath the heavens to be.
There the bower glitters, and the green woods gleam.
All o'er that pleasant plain, calm and serene,
The fruits ne'er fall, but, hung by God's own hand,
Cling to the trees that stand for ever green,
Obedient to their Maker's first command.

Summer and winter are the woods the same,
Hung with bright fruits and leaves that never fade;
Such will they be, beyond the reach of flame,
Till Heaven, and Earth, and Time, shall have decayed.
Here might Iduna in her fond pursuit,
As fabled by the northern sea-born men,
Gather her golden and immortal fruit,
That brings their youth back to the gods again.

Of old, when God, to punish sinful pride,
Sent round the deluged world the ocean flood,
When all the earth lay 'neath the vengeful tide,
This glorious land above the waters stood.
Such shall it be at last, even as at first,
Until the coming of the final doom,
When the dark chambers--men's death homes shall burst,
And man shall rise to judgment from the tomb.

There there is never enmity, nor rage,
Nor poisoned calumny, nor envy's breath,
Nor shivering poverty, nor decrepit age,
Nor loss of vigour, nor the narrow death;
Nor idiot laughter, nor the tears men weep,
Nor painful exile from one's native soil,
Nor sin, nor pain, nor weariness, nor sleep,
Nor lust of riches, nor the poor man's toil.

There never falls the rain-cloud as with us,
Nor gapes the earth with the dry summer's thirst,
But liquid streams, wondrously curious,
Out of the ground with fresh fair bubbling burst.
Sea-cold and bright the pleasant waters glide
Over the soil, and through the shady bowers;
Flowers fling their coloured radiance o'er the tide,
And the bright streams their crystal o'er the flowers.

Such was the land for man's enjoyment made,
When from this troubled life his soul doth wend:
Such was the land through which entranced we strayed,
For fifteen days, nor reached its bound nor end.
Onward we wandered in a blissful dream,
Nor thought of food, nor needed earthly rest;
Until, at length, we reached a mighty stream,
Whose broad bright waves flowed from the east to west.

We were about to cross its placid tide,
When, lo! an angel on our vision broke,
Clothed in white, upon the further side
He stood majestic, and thus sweetly spoke:
'Father, return, thy mission now is o'er;
God, who did call thee here, now bids thee go,
Return in peace unto thy native shore,
And tell the mighty secrets thou dost know.

'In after years, in God's own fitting time,
This pleasant land again shall re-appear;
And other men shall preach the truths sublime,
To the benighted people dwelling here.
But ere that hour this land shall all be made,
For mortal man, a fitting, natural home,
Then shall the giant mountain fling its shade,
And the strong rock stem the white torrent's foam.

'Seek thy own isle--Christ's newly-bought domain,
Which Nature with an emerald pencil paints:
Such as it is, long, long shall it remain,
The school of Truth, the College of the Saints,
The student's bower, the hermit's calm retreat,
The stranger's home, the hospitable hearth,
The shrine to which shall wander pilgrim feet
From all the neighbouring nations of the earth.

'But in the end upon that land shall fall
A bitter scourge, a lasting flood of tears,
When ruthless tyranny shall level all
The pious trophies of its early years:
Then shall this land prove thy poor country's friend,
And shine a second Eden in the west;
Then shall this shore its friendly arms extend,
And clasp the outcast exile to its breast.'

He ceased and vanished from our dazzled sight,
While harps and sacred hymns rang sweetly o'er
For us again we winged our homeward flight
O'er the great ocean to our native shore;
And as a proof of God's protecting hand,
And of the wondrous tidings that we bear,
The fragrant perfume of that heavenly land
Clings to the very garments that we wear.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010



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