CANADIAN BALLADS,

AND

OCCASIONAL VERSES.

By Thomas D’Arcy McGee


 

THE LOVE CHARM.



I.
 


“Ancient crones that shun the highways,
   In dark woods to weave your spells—
Holy dwellers in the byeways,
   Erenachs of blessed wells;
House and Lands to whoso finds me

5
 

   Where the cure for Connor dwells!”


II.
 


One went out by night to gather
   Vervain by the summer star;*
Hosts of Leeches sought the father
   In his hall of Castlebar;

10
 

Blessed water came in vials
   From the wells of ancient Saints;
Vain their knowledge—vain their trials—
   Science wots not youth’s complaints: [Page 120]


III.
 


“Nearer, nearer, sister Margaret—

15
 

   (Lest the baffled Leeches hear)—
Listen to me, sister dearest,
   ’Tis of Love that I lie here
In Athenree there is a blossom
   More than all their charms could do;

20
 

There is healing in her bosom,
   All my vigor to renew:


IV.
 


“But our father hates her father—
   Deadly feud between them reigns—
Peace may come when I am sleeping

25
 

Where the lank laburnum’s weeping
And the cold green ivy creeping
   O’er the grave where nothing pains!


V.
 


“Tell her then!”  “Nay, brother, brother,
   Live and hope and trust to me;

30
 

In a guise none can discover,
I will be your Lady’s lover,
Woo her to thee, my brother,
   Ere the new moon faded be!” [Page 121]


VI.
 

Clad in boyish guise sits Margaret,

35
 

   With a harp upon her knee,
Harping to the lovely mistress
   Of the castle’d Athenree—
Chaunting how, in days departed,
All the world was truer-hearted—

40
 

How death only could have parted
   Love and fond Fidelity.


VII.
 


Sighed the Lady—“Gentle minstrel,
   If such lovers een lived now,
Ladies might be found as faithful,

45
 

   But few such there are, I trow——.”
Quoth the singer, also sighing,
“Nay, I know where one is lying
For thy sake—know where he’s dying—
   Tell me, shall he live or no?”

50

VIII.
 


Through the green woods, blossom laden,
Ride the minstrel and the maiden
O’er the Robe’s bright waters gushing—
He exhorting and she blushing—
Athenree behind them far,

55
 

Riding till the sun of even’,
Lingering late upon Ben Nephin,
   Saw them enter Castlebar. [Page 122]


IX.
 


Sat the sick heir in his chamber,
   Sore besieged by early death,

60
 

Life and death’s alternate banners
   Waver’d in his feeble breath;
All the Leeches had departed,
While the sad Sire, broken-hearted,
Gazes from his turret lonely,

65
 

Thinking of his sick heir only—
   O’er his heirless lands beneath.


X.
 


“Connor! Connor! here’s your blossom,
   Take her—take her to your bosom;
   Said I not to trust to me?

70
 

And this reverend man will wive you.
Albeit he comes here to shrive you.
   And the Bridesmaid I shall be!”


XI.
 


On the turret wept the Father,
   (While the Son beneath was wed)—

75
 

Came the Priest reluctant to him—
   “Ah! I know,” he cried, “he’s dead!
“——Nay, not so, my noble master,
   Young Lord Connor’s come to life!”—
“Say’t again, again—speak faster—”

80
     “Yea, my Lord—and here’s his wife!” [Page 123]  




* Vervain, a healing plant in great repute among the Irish; it should be gathered under the dog-star, by night, barefoot and with the left hand. [back]