Изображения страниц

Beyond them with the tempest. But the night
Will find not life within my wasted frame.
I know that death is near, so cool, so cool
My temples now, so clear, so clear mine eye.
Not far the end. If all were well with him,
I were content to perish.
Ugone (awaking). Air, air, air! (Leaps up.)
Get to thy grave!-what dost thou, with thy



Fran. Not yet, Ugone.
Sleep not yet, not yet.
Watch with me, if you still can pity me.
Speak!-sing! sing!... have you any mirthful

Crawling about thee, here? Avaunt, I say.
I cannot slay a dead man. . . come not nigh!...
Open the door-(Beats the door)—open the door,
I say!

Fran. Help me, great God, to help him!
How the light
Flashes across-broad day from blakest night,
Midday to midnight-and the thunder reaks,
Rolling athwart the mountain-peaks that leap
Livid, amid the lightnings, out of gloom!
How can the miserable spirit brook
The horror of such tempest?... Are you near,

Fran. Ay, Ugone, I am near.
Ugone. Speak to me, then, dear lad, for God's Our loves will make Hell Heaven.
O, Francesco,

sake, speak.


The night will drive me mad. Have you slept Let us away, away into night.

Sing, lad, and mock the tempest-sing, I say.

Fran. I cannot sing; my heart's too icy cold.
Ugone. I bid you do it; why should you not

Fran. What shall I sing you?

Ah, some jovial thing,
devilish song,

Some bacchanalian, merry,
Such as doth trample fear, sorrow, and care.
Music can sweep the worlds from heaven, and

New heavens, new earth for us.


Ah me, I cannot;
There's grief in music's solace; old songs hold
Sweet childhood's days within their arms. . . they


All in upon me. . . . ah, the early times!...
Ugone, O Ugone.


Why will you plague me still? The whole long
Scarce have you spoken word to me. You sigh,
You shudder like a girl, your eyes grow moist,
You stand aloof and will not touch my flesh;
When we sat down to sup, you set your chair
Afar from me, and would not taste the bread
I served you; when you droopt upon the road,
And twice I took you on my back for help,
You would not rest your arms against my neck,

Nor lean your head to mine, but hung as dead,
Cold, frigid, loveless. Why have you come here?
Fran. Because I love you, brother.

Love me, love me?. . . you love me... love me

You love me, lad...


O, whisper it close, close... you-love me,
Just now I seemed to stand amid the worlds
Alone, cut off from God, abhorred of men. ..
It is not so; you love me, though God hates!
Fran. O, I do love you. Come you near,

I'll kiss your brow though blood drip o'er its

I'll kiss your cheek; I'll kiss your stained hands.
They shall not take me from you. Ay, your deed
Is my deed; nought shall separate our souls.
If you are guilty, I am guilty too;

If they slay you, me also must they slay;
If your name's black with sin, so shall be mine;
If you are thrust to Darkness, by your side
I'll enter; you shall know no loneliness;
Fire shall not sever our true brothers' hearts,

Dread you the storm without? . . . I'll not be cruel.
Sleep, take your rest until the morrow dawn.
Poor lad, I'll watch the doors with steady eye,
And none shall harm you. . . . Nay, then on
my breast

Pillow your head, as when a little child
You nestled here. O, sleep is swift to steal
Light from the weary eyes. Rest, rest, my boy.
. . It comes; let gentle dreams come in with it.
Lie there, poor lamb.


[blocks in formation]

I had not struck. Ay, dost thou curse me for it, | Flatter the hand to quench it with swift death! Or mock me in exultant liberty? . . .


I have read tales of those who shed men's blood,
And shuddered at their names: am I as they?
I from the world have cast a devil out-
I am no murderer! . . . I've marvelled oft
How felt the slayer, when the deed was o'er.
Even as the bride after her bridal-day,
When forth she comes and the world looks at her-
All's strange; she is abashed; she fears men's eyes;
There's a new life around her; there's a chill
Creeping of awe at mystic presences

I will not brook another sleep like that,
Which throws its net about to drag me down. . .
Francesco, wake again! . . . Will no one come
And lay a cool pure hand across my brow?
What ailed thee, Adelaide, in all my woe,
That thou didst bring no help?-thou, false as

Felt through and through her, and a silent calm
As of a sabbath's early morn when all
Labour hath rest, and skies are grey with cloud,
Though the birds sing at times, and light is mild.
So seemed it as I sped across the lake

At first, and the wind kissed me on the brows,
And as by dusty roads we walked awhile,
All silent, resting at the wayside inn
To eat and drink, and speaking yet no word.
My heart was like a soldier's after battle-
Still, sad a little, thankful, and at peace-
Till sleep o'erthrew me . . . then the fantasies,
Then the black pit of fear! . . . If this be rest,
What shall be life? . . . What marvel if the brain,
Finding no peace in sleep, should many times

[A more intimate knowledge of the earlier Celtic legends which has been gained during the last quarter of a century, while it has inspired the poetry of Dr. Dwyer Joyce, has led to the production of a remarkable work in prose by Standish O'Grady. In his history of early Irish life, the old poems, the old traditions, the old chronicles acquire new life, and the entire story is told with an enthusiasm and poetic fervour that make the book a work sui generis.

Furnace of roaring fire to left, to right,

Horror of death, torment of guilt! . wake, wake!

Mr. O'Grady's only publications up to the present are the History of Ireland, vols. i. and ii. In these volumes the author purports to give a picture of the ethnic civilization of Ireland by the relation of the history of Cuculain, who flourished about the period of the incarnation, and of the other leading contemporary characters. His authorities are, besides the Annals and the Brehon laws, the immense mass of published and unpublished bardic literature dealing with that period and the heroes who then flourished.

The record of Mr. O'Grady's life is brief.

[ocr errors]

Dear human voice, O, speak to me once more!
I shall go mad in all this loneliness . . .
Francesco, wake!

Fran. (Awaking.) I think you called me,
Ugone. Arise!
we must away.

Into the night, into the storm, away
Tarry not.

I stifle in this fire.

[ocr errors]

my God! . . . arise. . .

they are swift upon our track . . .


Fran. (Rising.) A little sleep. . .
A little rest, my brother! Surely dawn
Is not yet come . .

Ugone. No more of it, no more . . .
(Clutches him). On, while my purpose holds,
O, on, Francesco!

| He was born in Ireland on Sept. 18th, 1846. He is the son of the Rev. Thomas O'Grady, rector of the parish of Magourney, county Cork, who was son of Lieutenant James O'Grady second brother of Standish O'Grady, first Viscount Guillamore. He was educated at Tipperary grammar-school and Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained a classical scholarship. He was called to the Irish bar in 1873.]



[Queen Meave at the head of an army drawn from Meath, Leinster, Connaught, and Munster, invades Ulster, the territory of the Ultonians or Red Branch Knights (Gælicé, Crave Rue). The Ultonians, suffering from a supernatural visitation, do not resist, Cuculain alone bars her progress. Under a compact the

By permission of the author.

upon Fardia.

forces of Queen Meave undertake not to cross | looked upon Cuculain, and Cuculain looked the Avon Dia until Cuculain is subdued in single combat. After slaying many warriors he is at last confronted by an olden friend Fardia. Love for Queen Meave's daughter, and the expectation that Cuculain will retire before him voluntarily, are the inducements which lead Fardia to oppose his friend. Also he has given a promise to that effect while intoxicated at a banquet. Until he sees him Cuculain believes that Fardia is warring in Espân (Spain).]

Then a milder mood came over the mind of Cuculain, and he remembered his friends who were with Meave, and how they had received him coming, and he recalled the firm friendship of Lewy Mac Neesh, and, especially, he thought of Fardia, the son of Daman, now warring among the Clanna Godil in Espân, and, as he thought on these things, lo! the dawn trembling through the forest, and the hoar-frost glittering on the grass.

Then started forth Cuculain, and he drew from the chariot the venison which he had cooked, and ate thereof, and drank his last draught of ale, making a gurgle in his strong, bare throat, and his strength revived in him. Nevertheless, his countenance was hollow and wan, dull were his splendid eyes, and there was a wound in his hand and in his leg and in his left side, and his noble breast was mangled, and all his body black with dried gore.

Then he tore away the iron-work from his chariot, and filled the broken centre and upper rim of his shield, strapping it tightly with the leathern reins, and with the colg that was by his side he hewed down a young fir-tree, and shore away the crackling branches, and cut off the top. After this he brake off the steel peak of the chariot, and sunk it into the rough spear tree, and bound it firmly to the wood. Then arose Cuculain, the unconquerable, striding through the forest, and he wondered which of the great champions of Meave should be brought against him that day; and when he came out into the open, he beheld the whole south country filled with a vast multitude, as it had been the Ænech of Taylteen or the great Feis of Tara when the authority of the Ard-Rie is supreme, and all the tribes of Erin gather together with their kings. But he saw not at first who was the champion that had come out against him, and he advanced through the willows, and came to the edge of the ford, and looked across, and he saw Fardia, son of Daman, of the Fir-bolgs, and Fardia

Then Cuculain blushed, and his neck and face above, and his temples waxed fiery red, and then again paler than the white flower of the thorn, and his under jaw fell, and he stood like one stupefied; but Fardia held his shield unmoved, with his spears resting on the ground, and beneath the heavy cath-barr his brows stronger than brass.

But Cuculain sent forth a voice hoarse and untuned, and said: "Is it Fardia Mac Daman of the Fir-bolgs, for there is a mist before my eyes?"

But Fardia answered not.

Then said Cuculain: "Art thou come out to meet me in arms to-day, seeking to slay me?"

And Fardia answered sternly: "Go back, O Cuculain, to thy own people, and cease to bar the gates of the north against our host, and I shall not slay thee or dishonour thee; but if thou remainest, I shall slay thee here at the ford. Therefore, I bid thee go back into the province."

But Cuculain answered him, and his voice became like the voice of a young girl, or the accents of one seeking an alms:-"And is it thou alone of all this great host that has come out against thy friend, seeking to slay me or dishonour me. There are the battlestandards of all the warrior tribes of Erin, save only the Ultonians; the banners of the children of Ith and Heber, all the farspreading clans of Heremon, the children of Amargin and Brega, of Donn and Biela, and the Desie of Temair; there are the warlike clans of the Fomoroh, and the remnant of the people of Partholân, the Clanna Nemedh, from the great harbour southwards, the children of Orba, the Ernai, and the Osree, the Gamaradians, and the clan Dega. Could no champion be sought out of this great host that covers the green plains of Conaul Murthemney to the limits of the furthest hills to come out against me, but that thou alone shouldest stand forth against thy friend? Persist not, O son of Daman, but retire, and I will meet three champions instead of one from this day forward. We parted with mutual gifts and with tears, why does thy spear now thirst after my blood, and why dost thou seek to dishonour me?"

And Fardia made answer: "Other champions by their prowess bear away many gifts, why should I ever have my hands empty? Bright as the sun is the brooch of Meave,

which she has given me, the Royal Brooch ofereignty of my mind, shall I contest the borCruhane, emblem of sovereignty among the ders of thy nation, though forsaken and alone. Gail. Gems glitter along the rim. Like a My people have indeed abandoned me, and level sunbeam in the forest is the shining delg1 conspired for my destruction; but there is no of it. I shall have honour while I live, and power in Erin to dissolve my knightship to my clan after me shall be glorious to the end the son of Nessa, and my kinship with the of time. Therefore prepare for battle, O son Crave Rue. Though they hate me, yet cannot of Sualtam; I remember thee not at all, or as I eject this love out of my heart. And not one whom years since I met and straight again the kings only and the might of the Crave forgot. Therefore, prepare thyself for battle, Rue, but the women and the young children or I shall slay thee off thy guard." of Ulla are under my protection, and all the unwarlike tribes, and this the sacred soil of Ulla upon which I stand. And this, too, well I know, that no power in the earth or in the air can keep the Red Branch my foe for ever, and that loud and deep will be their sorrow when the red pyre flames beneath me. And seek not to terrify me with death, O son of Daman, of yore, too, our minds did not agree, for dark and sorrowful death is not but a passage to the land of the ever young, the Tiernanōg. There shall I see the Tuatha face to face, and there the heroic sons of Milith and himself, a mighty shade, and there all the noblest of the earth. There hatred and scorn are not known, nor the rupturing of friendships, but sweet love rules over all."

And Cuculain said: "O Fardia, I believe thee not. Full well dost thou remember. Beneath the same rug we slept, and sat together at the feast, and side by side we went into the red battle. Together we consumed cities, and drave away captives. Together we practised feats of arms before the warriorqueen, grieving when either got any hurt. Together we kept back the streaming foe in the day of disaster, when the battle-torrent roared over us, either guarding the other more than himself."

Then beneath his lowering brows the hot tears burst forth from the eyes of the son of Daman, and fell continuously from his beard, and he answered with a voice most stern, but that held within it a piteous tone, like a vessel in which the careless eye sees not the hidden flaw, but at a touch, lo, it is broken, so sounded the stern voice of the warrior.

"Go back now, O Cuculain, to thy pleasant Dûn-Dûn Dalgan upon the sea. Go back now, for I would not slay thee, and rule over Murthemney and the rough headland of thy sires, and Meave will not waste thy territory or injure aught that is thine. And care no more for the Red Branch, for they have forsaken thee, and given thee over to destruction, who have conspired against thee, trusting in thy great heart that thou wouldst be slain on the marches of the province, holding the gates of the north against thy foes, for Hound is thy name, and Royal Hound thy nature. Therefore go back, O Cuculain, and save thy young life; return now to thy infant son and thy sweet bride. Go back, O Cuculain, for sweet is life, the life of the warrior, and very dark and sorrowful and empty is the grave."

"I will not go back, O Fardia Mac Daman, but here on the marches, while there is blood in my veins, and while reason, like a king rebelled against but unsubdued, holds the sov

"Go back, O Cuculain, go back now again, for I would not slay thee. Think no more of the son of Nessa and the Red Branch, than whom the race of Milith hath produced nought fiercer or more baleful. Rooted out and cast down shall be the Red Branch in this foray, whether thou, O Cuculain, survivest or art slain. Go back, O son of Sualtam, return to thy own Dûn. Once, indeed, thou wast obedient to me and served me, and polished my armour, and tied up my spears, submissive to my commands. Therefore go back; add not thy blood to the bloody stream.”

"Revilest thou my nation, O son of Daman. Talk no more now, but prepare thyself for battle and for death. I will not obey thee or retire before thee, nor shalt thou at all dishonour me, as thou hast most foully dishonoured thyself. This, indeed, I well know, that I shall be slain at the ford when my strength has passed away, or my mind is overthrown; but by thee, O son of Daman, I shall not meet my death. Once, indeed, I was subservient to thee, because I was younger than thee. Therefore was I then as a servant unto thee, but not now; and which of us twain shall die I know, and it is thou, O Fardia, son of

1 The spear of the brooch: the brooches were of great Daman."


2 Skathah, queen of Skye, at whose court they resided in boyhood.

Therewith then they fought, and Cuculain had no weapon save only his colg, for the gæ

bolg, the rude spear which he had fashioned, | stepped back Cuculain quickly, and the men he dropped upon the shore, and Fardia dis- of Meave shouted, for Cuculain's shield was charged his javelins at the same time, for falling to pieces. But again rushed forward he was ambidexter, and quick as lightning the hound of Ulla, stooping, with the gæ Cuculain avoided them, and they stuck trem- bolg in his hand, using it like a spearman in bling in the thither bank, and swift to right the battle, and he drave Fardia through the and left Cuculain severed the leathern thongs, ford and upon the hither bank, pressing rushing forward. Then drew Fardia his against the shield, but Fardia himself, too, mighty sword, that made a flaming crescent as retreated back. But when the Fir-bolgs saw it flashed, most bright and terrible, and rushed what was done they feared mightily for their headlong upon Cuculain, and they met in the champion, and they raised a sudden howl of midst of the ford. But straightway there lamentation and rage, and rushed forward, arose a spray and a mist from the trampling breaking through the guards. Which, when of the heroes, and through the mist their forms Fergus Mac Roy beheld, he sprang down from moved hugely, like two giants of the Fomoroh his chariot, shouting dreadfully, and put his contending in a storm. But the war-demons, hand into the hollow of his shield, and took too contended around them fighting, the Bo- out his battle-stone, and smote Imchall, the canahs and Bananahs, the wild people of son of Dega, with the battle-stone upon the the glens, and the demons of the air, and the head, and he fell rushing forward amongst the fiercer and more bloodthirsty of the Tuatha1 first. But Cormac Conlingas and Mainey De Danan, and screeched in the clamour of Lamgarf ran thither with the queen's spearthe warriors, the clash of the shields and the men restraining the Fir-bolgs. clatter of land and meeting colg. But the But, meantime, Cuculain lifted suddenly warriors of Meave turned pale, and the war- the ge bolg above his head, and plunged it steeds broke loose, and flew through the plain into Fardia; and it passed through the upper with the war-cars, and the women and camp-rim of the brazen shield, and through the followers brake forth and fled, and the upper strong bones of his breast beneath his beard, water of the divine stream gathered together and he fell backward with a crash, and grasped for fear, and reared itself aloft like a steed with outstretched hands at the ground, and that has seen a spectre, with jags of torn his spirit went out of him, and he died. water and tossing foam. But Cuculain was red all over, like a garment raised out of the dyeing-vat, and Fardia's great sword made havoc in his unarmoured flesh. Three times Cuculain closed with the Fir-bolg, seeking to get within the ponderous shield, and three times the son of Daman cast him off, as the cliffs of Eyrus cast off a foaming billow of the great sea; but when the fourth time he was rushing on like a storm, he heard as it were the voice of Læg,3 the son of Riangowra, taunting and insulting him; and himself he saw, standing in the river ford on the left, for he was accustomed to revile Cuculain. Yet this time, too, the Fir-bolg cast him off, and advanced upon Cuculain to slay him. Then

But Cuculain plucked out the spear and stood above him, panting, as a hound pants returning from the chase, and the war-demons passed out of him, and he looked upon Fardia, and a great sorrow overwhelmed him, and he lamented and moaned over Fardia, joining his voice to the howl of the people of Fardia, the great-hearted, children of Mac Erc, and he took off the cath-barr from the head of Fardia, and unwound his yellow hair, tress after bright tress, most beautiful, shedding many tears, and he opened the battle-dress and took out the queen's brooch-that for which his friend had come to slay him—and he cursed the lifeless metal, and cast it from him into the air, southwards over the host, and men saw it no more.



[Charlotte Eliza Lawson Cowan, author of so many popular novels, is the youngest child of James Cowan of Barn Cottage, Carrickfer

1 Supernatural beings.

2 Land sword; colga short dagger-like weapon. VOL. IV.

gus, county Antrim, where she was born. At an early age she began to use her pen as a writer of fiction, and in 1858 published

3 This was a vision of his absent friend and charioteer seen by the excited and distraught mind of Cuculain. 84

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »