Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Three Irish Spinning Songs
By Padraic Colum
 
I
A young girl sings:
  The Lannan Shee 1
  Watched the young man Brian
  Cross over the stile towards his father’s door,
  And she said, “No help,        5
  For now he’ll see
  His byre, his bawn and his threshing floor!
  And oh, the swallows
  Forget all wonders
  When walls with the nests rise up before.”        10
      My strand is knit.
 
  “Out of the dream
  Of me, into
  The round of his labor he will grow;
  To spread his fields        15
  In the winds of Spring,
  And tramp the heavy glebe and sow;
  And cut and clamp
  And rear the turf
  Until the season when they mow.”        20
      My wheel runs smooth.
 
  “And while he toils
  In field and bog
  He will be anxious in his mind—
  About the thatch        25
  Of barn and rick
  Against the reiving autumn wind,
  And how to make
  His gap and gate
  Secure against the thieving kind.”        30
      My wool is fine.
 
  “He has gone back
  And I’ll see no more
  Mine image in his deepening eyes;
  Then I’ll lean above        35
  The Well of the Bride,
  And with my beauty peace will rise!
  O autumn star
  In a hidden lake,
  Fill up my heart and make me wise!”        40
      My quick brown wheel!
 
  “The women bring
  Their pitchers here
  At the time when the stir of the house is o’er;
  They’ll see my face        45
  In the well-water,
  And they’ll never lift their vessels more.
  For each will say
  ‘How beautiful—
  Why should I labor any more!        50
  Indeed I come
  Of so fair a race
  ’Twere waste to labor any more!’”
      My thread is spun.
 
II
An elder girl sings:
        55
  One came before her and said beseeching,
  “I have fortune and I have lands,
  And if you’ll share in the goods of my household
  All my treasure’s at your commands.”
 
  But she said to him, “The goods you proffer        60
  Are far from my mind as the silk of the sea!
  The arms of him, my young love, round me
  Is all the treasure that’s true for me!”
 
  “Proud you are then, proud of your beauty,
  But beauty’s a flower will soon decay;        65
  The fairest flowers they bloom in the Summer,
  They bloom one Summer and they fade away.”
 
  “My heart is sad then for the little flower
  That must so wither where fair it grew—
  He who has my heart in keeping,        70
  I would he had my body too.”
 
III
An old woman sings:
  There was an oul’ trooper went riding by
  On the road to Carricknabauna,
  And sorrow is better to sing than cry        75
  On the way to Carricknabauna!
  And as the oul’ trooper went riding on
  He heard this sung by a crone, a crone
  On the road to Carricknabauna!
 
  “I’d spread my cloak for you, young lad        80
  Were it only the breadth of a farthen’
  And if your mind was as good as your word,
  In troth, it’s you I’d rather!
  In dread of any jealousy,
  And before we go any farther        85
  Carry me up to the top of the hill
  And show me Carricknabauna!”
 
  “Carricknabauna, Carricknabauna,
  Would you show me Carricknabauna?
  I lost a horse at Cruckmoylinn—        90
  At the Cross of Bunratty I dropped a limb—
  But I left my youth on the crown of the hill
  Over by Carricknabauna!”
      Girls, young girls, the rush-light is done.
      What will I do when my thread is spun?        95
 
Note 1. The Lannan Shee is the Faery Mistress of Irish peasant romance. [back]
 
 
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