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Denis Florence MacCarthy
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Poems.

Oh! many a time have I wandered out
  In the youth of the opening year,
When Nature’s face was fair to my eye,
  And her voice was sweet to my ear! 
When I numbered the daisies, so few and shy,
  That I met in my lonely way;
But never before to my heart or eye,
  Came there ever so sweet a May
                             As this—­
                       Sweet May! sweet May!

If the flowers delayed, or the beams were cold,
  Or the blossoming trees were bare,
I had but to look in the poet’s book,
  For the summer is always there! 
But the sunny page I now put by,
  And joy in the darkest day! 
For never before to my heart or eye,
  Came there ever so sweet a May
                             As this—­
                       Sweet May! sweet May!

For, ah! the belov’ed at length has come,
  Like the breath of May from afar;
And my heart is lit with gentle eyes,
  As the heavens by the evening star. 
’Tis this that brightens the darkest sky,
  And lengthens the faintest ray,
And makes me feel that to the heart or eye
  There was never so sweet a May
                             As this—­
                       Sweet May! sweet May!

FERDIAH;[28] OR, THE FIGHT AT THE FORD.

An Episode from the Ancient Irish Epic Romance, “The Tain Bo Cuailgne; or, the Cattle Prey of Cuailgne.”

["The ‘Tain Bo Cuailgne’” says the late Professor O’Curry, “is to Irish what the Argonautic Expedition, or the Seven against Thebes, is to Grecian history.”  For an account of this, perhaps the earliest epic romance of Western Europe, see the Professor’s “Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Irish History.”

The Fight of Cuchullin with Ferdiah took place in the modern county of Louth, at the ford of Ardee, which still preserves the name of the departed champion, Ardee being the softened form of ‘Ath Ferdiah,’ or Ferdiah’s Ford.

The circumstances under which this famous combat took place are thus succinctly mentioned by O’Curry, in his description of the Tain Bo Cuailgne:—­

“Cuchulainn confronts the invaders of his province, demands single combat, and conjures his opponents by the laws of Irish chivalry (the ‘Fir comhlainn’) not to advance farther until they had conquered him.  This demand, in accordance with the Irish laws of warfare, is granted; and then the whole contest is resolved into a succession of single combats, in each of which Cuchulainn was victorious.”—­“Lectures,” p. 37.

The original Irish text of this episode, with a literal translation, on which the present metrical version is founded, may be consulted in the appendix to the second series of the Lectures by O’Curry, vol. ii., p. 413.

The date assigned to the famous expedition of the Tain Bo Cuailgne, and consequently to the episode which forms the subject of the present poem, is the close of the century immediately preceding the commencement of the Christian era.  This will account for the complete absence of all Christian allusions, so remarkable throughout the poem:  an additional proof, if that were required, of its extreme antiquity.]

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