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The Passing of the Gael
Ethna Carbery [aka Mrs Seumus MacManus] (1866-1902)
From "The Four Winds of Eirinn"
They are going, going, going from the valleys and the hills,
They are leaving far behind them heathery moor and mountain rills,
All the wealth of hawthorn hedges where the brown thrush sways and trills.
They are going, shy-eyed colleens and lads so straight and tall,
From the purple peaks of Kerry, from the crags of wild Imaal,
From the greening plains of Mayo and the glens of Donegal.
They are leaving pleasant places, shores with snowy sands outspread;
Blue and lonely lakes a-stirring when the wind stirs overhead;
Tender living hearts that love them, and the graves of kindred dead.
They shall carry to the distant land a tear-drop in the eye
And some shall go uncomforted-their days an endless sigh
For Kathaleen Ní Houlihan's sad face, until they die.
Oh, Kathaleen Ní Houlihan, your road's a thorny way,
And 'tis a faithful soul would walk the flints with you for aye,
Would walk the sharp and cruel flints until his locks grew grey.
So some must wander to the East, and some must wander West;
Some seek the white wastes of the North, and some a Southern nest;
Yet never shall they sleep so sweet as on your mother breast.
The whip of hunger scourged them from the glens and quiet moors,
But there's a hunger of the heart that plenty never cures;
And they shall pine to walk again the rough road that is yours.
Within the city streets, hot, hurried, full of care,
A sudden dream shall bring them a whiff of Irish air-
A cool air, faintly-scented, blown soft from otherwhere.
Oh, the cabins long-deserted! -Olden memories awake-
Oh, the pleasant, pleasant places!-Hush! the blackbird in the brake!
Oh, the dear and kindly voices! -Now their hearts are fain to ache.
They may win a golden store-sure the whins were golden too;
And no foreign skies hold beauty like the rainy skies they knew;
Nor any night-wind cool the brow as did the foggy dew.
They are going, going, going, and we cannot bid them stay;
The fields are now the strangers' where the strangers' cattle stray.
Oh! Kathaleen Ní Houlihan, your way's a thorny way!
Kevin A. Fitzsimons