Gougane Barra


There is a green island in lone Gougane Barra
Whence Allu of songs rushes forth like an arrow
In deep-valleyed Desmond, a thousand wild fountains
Come down to that lake from their home in the mountains

There grows the wild ash, and a time-stricken willow
Looks chidingly down on the mirth of the billow
As, like some gay child that sad monitor scorning
It lightly laughs back to the laugh of the morning

And its zone of dark hills, oh! to see them all bright’ning
When the tempest flings out its red banner of light­ning
And the waters come down, ‘mid the thunder’s deep rattle
Like clans from their hills at the voice of the battle

And brightly the fire-crested billows are gleaming
And wildly from Malloc, the eagles are screaming
Oh, where is the dwelling, in valley or highland
So meet for a bard as this lone little island

How oft, when the summer sun rested on Clara
And lit the blue headland of sullen Ivera
Have I sought thee, sweet spot, from my home by the ocean
And trod all thy wilds with a minstrel’s devotion

And thought on the bards who, oft gathering together
In the cleft of thy rocks, and the depth of thy heather
Dwelt far from the Saxon’s dark bondage and slaughter
As they raised their last song by the rush of thy water

High sons of the lyre ! oh, how proud was the feeling
To dream while alone through that solitude stealing
Though loftier minstrels green Erin can number
I alone waked the strain of her harp from its slumber

And gleaned the gray legend that long had been sleeping
Where oblivion’s dull mist o’er its beauty was creep­ing
From the love which I felt for my country’s sad story
When to love her was shame, to revile her was glory

Least bard of the free ! were it mine to inherit
The fire of thy harp and the wing of thy spirit
With the wrongs which, like thee, to my own land have bound me
Did your mantle of song throw its radiance around me

Yet, yet on those bold cliffs might Liberty rally
And abroad send her cry o’er the sleep of each valley
But rouse thee, vain dreamer ! no fond fancy cherish
Thy vision of Freedom in bloodshed must perish

I soon shall be gone, though my name may be spoken
When Erin awakes, and her fetters are broken
Some minstrel will come in the summer eve’s gleam­ing
When Freedom’s young light on his spirit is beaming

To bend o’er my grave with a tear of emotion
Where calm Avonbuee seeks the kisses of ocean
And a wild wreath to plant from the banks of that river
O’er the heart and the harp that are silent forever


Gougane Barra is a small lake about two miles in cir­cumference, formed by the numerous streams which descend from the mountains that divide the counties of Cork and Kerry.

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