In Ireland

by | July 7, 1926

To Llewellyn Powys

I. The Landing

The great ship, lantern-girdled,
The tender standing by;
The waning stars, cloud-shrouded,
The land that we descry.

That pale land is our homeland,
And we are bound therefor:
On her lawns nor in her coppice
No birds as yet make stir.

But birds are flying round us,
The white birds of the sea—
It is the breeze of morning.
This that comes hummingly.

And like the talk that comes from
A room where a babe is born—
Such clearness and such mystery
Are in words said on the morn; 

Where, as a nation cloven
In two our ranks divide:
One-half on the high ship’s bulwark.
And one-half by the tender’s side; 

Where, as a people sundered
That yet have each other’s hail.
Faces look down from the bulwark.
And look up from the tender’s rail. 

And names and words are spoken—
“Nancy,” “Mary,” “Owen.”
“Goodbye, and keep your promise!”
“Farewell to you, my son.”

They are more spirit-stirring
Than any words that are
Remembered from the spokesmen
Of any avatar!

“Oh, all I had to tell you!”
“Ellen,” “Michael,” “Joan!”
“Good-bye, and God be with you I
“And can it be you’re gone!”

The great ship, lantern-girdled.
Her engines thresh, immerse—
The great ship that had station
Takes motion for her course!

Her little course the tender.
Our little ship, goes on—
The stars, they are fast waning,
But we’ll land ere ‘is the dawn!

Green, greener grows the foreland
Across the slate-dark sea.
And I’ll see faces, places
That have been dreams to me!

II. A Mountaineer

Ere Beowulf’s song
Was sung from the ships,
Ere Roland had set
The horn to his lips;

In Ogham strokes
A name was writ:
His name that name
Lives in yet.

The strokes on the edge
Of the stone might count
The acres he has
On this bare mount;

But he remembers
The pillar-stone.
And knows that he is
Of the seed of Conn.

III. Trespassers

. . . How, in the night, crows often take to
Rising from off the tree-tops in Drumbarr,
And flying on. . . . I was aware indeed
Of what he told, and was revolving it.

The crows that shake the night-damp off their
Upon the stones, out yonder in the field;
The crows that march across the fields, that sit
Upon the ash-trees’ branches; that fly home

And crowd the elm-trees over in Drumbarr;
The crows we look on at all hours of light.
Growing, and full, and going—these black beings have
Another lifetime!

Crows flying in the night—
Blackness in darkness flying; beings unseen
Except by eyes, that are like to their own
Trespassers’ eyes!

And you, old man, with eyes so quick and sharp
Who’ve told me of the crows, my fosterer;
And you, old women, upon whose lap I’ve been
When I was taken from my mother’s lap;

And you, young girl, with looks that have come down
From forefathers, my kin—ye have another life—
I’ve glimpsed it; you have made me trespasser:
Blackness in darkness flying like the crows!

This poem originally ran in the July 7, 1926 issue of the magazine.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//article/poetry/90291/poetry-in-ireland