Our legends tell of aery fountains upspringing in Eri, and how the people of long ago saw them not but only the Tuatha de Danaan. Some deem it was the natural outflow of water at these places which was held to be sacred; but above fountain, rill and river rose up the enchanted froth and foam of invisible rills and rivers breaking forth from Tir-na-noge, the soul of the island, and glittering in the sunlight of its mystic day. What we see here is imaged forth from that invisible soul and is a path thereto. In the heroic Epic of Cuculain Standish O’Grady writes of such a fountain, and prefixes his chapter with the verse from Genesis, “And four rivers went forth from Eden to water the garden,” and what follows in reference thereto.
I would I could weave in
The colour, the wonder,
The song I conceive in
My heart while I ponder,
And show how it came like
The magi of old
Whose chant was a flame like
The dawn’s voice of gold;
Who dreams followed near them
A murmur of birds,
And ear still could hear them
Unchanted in words.
In words I can only
Reveal thee my heart,
Oh, Light of the Lonely,
The shining impart.
Between the twilight and the dark
The lights danced up before my eyes:
I found no sleep or peace or rest,
But dreams of stars and burning skies.
I knew the faces of the day—
Dream faces, pale, with cloudy hair,
I know you not nor yet your home,
The Fount of Shadowy Beauty, where?
I passed a dream of gloomy ways
Where ne’er did human feet intrude:
It was the border of a wood,
A dreadful forest solitude.
With wondrous red and fairy gold
The clouds were woven o’er the ocean;
The stars in fiery aether swung
And danced with gay and glittering motion.
A fire leaped up within my heart
When first I saw the old sea shine;
As if a god were there revealed
I bowed my head in awe divine;
And long beside the dim sea marge
I mused until the gathering haze
Veiled from me where the silver tide
Ran in its thousand shadowy ways.
The black night dropped upon the sea:
The silent awe came down with it:
I saw fantastic vapours flit
As o’er the darkness of the pit.
When, lo! from out the furthest night
A speck of rose and silver light
Above a boat shaped wondrously
Came floating swiftly o’er the sea.
It was no human will that bore
The boat so fleetly to the shore
Without a sail spread or an oar.
The Pilot stood erect thereon
And lifted up his ancient face,
(Ancient with glad eternal youth
Like one who was of starry race.)
His face was rich with dusky bloom;
His eyes a bronze and golden fire;
His hair in streams of silver light
Hung flamelike on his strange attire