O’Donoghue’s mistress


Of all the fair months that round the sun
In light-linked dance their circles run
Sweet May, sweet May, shine thou for me
Sweet May, shine thou for me
For still when thy earliest beams arise
That youth who beneath the blue lake lies
Sweet May, sweet May, returns to me
Sweet May, returns to me

Of all the proud steeds that ever bore
Young plumed chiefs on sea or shore
White steed, white steed, most joy to thee
White steed, most joy to thee
Who still with the first young glance of spring
From under that glorious lake dost bring
My love, my chief, to me

Of all the sweet deaths that maidens die
Whose lovers beneath the cold wave lie
Most sweet, most sweet, that death will be
Most sweet that death will be
Which under the next May evening’s light
When thou and thy steed are lost to sight
Dear love, dear love, I’ll die for thee
Dear love, I’ll die for thee



Accordng to legend, the ghost of Kerry chieftain Eógan Mór O’Donoghue of the Glens appears on a white horse every May-day and  glides over the Lakes of Killarney. His grieving mistress promises that one day she will throw herself into the waters to join him in death.


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Thomas Moore