The thought grew stronger with my growing days,
Even like to manhood’s strengthening mind and limb,
And often now amid the purple haze
That evening breathed upon the horizon’s rim—
Methought, as there I sought my wished-for home,
I could descry amid the waters green,
Full many a diamond shrine and golden dome,
And crystal palaces of dazzling sheen.
And then I longed, with impotent desire,
Even for the bow whereby the Python bled,
That I might send on dart of the living fire
Into that land, before the vision fled,
And thus at length fix the enchanted shore,
Hy-Brasail, Eden of the western wave!
That thou again wouldst fade away no more,
Buried and lost within thy azure grave.
But angels came and whispered as I dreamt,
“This is no phantom of a frenzied brain—
God shows this land from time to time to tempt
Some daring mariner across the main:
By thee the mighty venture must be made,
By thee shall myriad souls to Christ be won!
Arise, depart, and trust to God for aid!”
I woke, and kneeling, cried, “His will be done!”
Hearing how blessed Enda lived apart,
Amid the sacred caves of Ara-mhor,
And how beneath his eye, spread like a chart,
Lay all the isles of that remotest shore;
And how he had collected in his mind
All that was known to man of the Old Sea,
I left the Hill of Miracles behind,
And sailed from out the shallow, sandy Leigh.
Betwixt the Samphire Isles swam my light skiff,
And like an arrow flew through Fenor Sound,
Swept by the pleasant strand, and the tall cliff,
Whereon the pale rose amethysts are found.
Rounded Moyferta’s rocky point, and crossed
The mouth of stream-streaked Erin’s mightiest tide,
Whose troubled waves break o’er the City lost,
Chafed by the marble turrets that they hide.
Beneath Ibrickan’s hills, moory and tame,
And Inniscaorach’s caves, so wild and dark,
I sailed along. The white-faced otter came,
And gazed in wonder on my floating bark.
The soaring gannet, perched upon my mast,
And the proud bird, that flies but o’er the sea,
Wheeled o’er my head: and the girrinna passed
Upon the branch of some life-giving tree.
Leaving the awful cliffs of Corcomroe,
I sought the rocky eastern isle, that bears
The name of blessed Coemhan, who doth show
Pity unto the storm-tossed seaman’s prayers;
Then crossing Bealach-na-fearbach’s treacherous sound,
I reached the middle isle, whose citadel
Looks like a monarch from its throne around;
And there I rested by St. Kennerg’s well.
Again I sailed, and crossed the stormy sound
That lies beneath Binn-Aite’s rocky height—
And there, upon the shore, the Saint I found
Waiting my coming though the tardy night.
He led me to his home beside the wave,
Where, with his monks, the pious father dwelled,
And to my listening ear he freely gave
The sacred knowledge that his bosom held.