What imports this song?
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail
And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee.

Hamlet. I do not set my life at a pin's fee...
It waves me forth again: I'll follow it.

Horatio. What if it tempt you toward the flood?...
Look whether he has not changed his colour.

THE sounds of wild harp-music were ascending at even from the depths of Glenmara. The sun had sunk, and the hues that had been woven round the west were wasting themselves away on the horizon. The faint shell-pink had drifted and dwindled far from the place of sunset. The woods of the slopes looked very dark now that the red glances from the west were withdrawn from their glossy foliage; but the heather-swathed mountains, towering through the soft blue air to the dark blue sky, were richly purple, as though the sunset hues had become entangled amongst the heather, and had forgotten to fly back to the west that had cast them forth.

The little tarn at the foot of the lowest crags was black and still, waiting for the first star-glimpse, and from its marge came the wild notes of a harp fitfully swelling and waning; and then arose the still wilder and more melancholy tones of a man's voice chanting what seemed like a weird dirge to the fading twilight, and the language was the Irish Celtic—that language every song of which sounds like a dirge sung over its own death:—

Why art thou gone from us, White Dove of the Irish


Why art thou gone who made all the leaves tremulous with

the low voice of love?

Love that tarried yet afar, though the fleet swallow had

come back to us—

Love that stayed in the far lands though the primrose had

cast its gold by the streams—

Love that heard not the voice sent forth from every new-budded briar—

This love came only when thou earnest, and rapture thrilled

the heart of the green land.

Why art thou gone from us, White Dove of the Irish


This is a translation of the wild lament that arose in the twilight air and stirred up the echoes of the rocks. Then the fitful melody of the harp made an interlude:—

Why art thou gone from us, sweet Linnet of the Irish


Why art thou gone from us whose song brought the Spring

to our land?

Yea, flowers to thy singing arose from the earth in bountiful


And scents of the violet, scents of the hawthorn—all scents

of the spring

Were wafted about us when thy voice was heard albeit in


All thoughts of the spring—all its hopes woke and breathed

through our hearts,

Till our souls thrilled with passionate song and the perfume

of spring which is love.

Why art thou gone from us, sweet Linnet of the Irish


Again the chaunter paused and again his harp prolonged the wailing melody. Then passing into a more sadly soft strain, he continued his song:—

Why art thou gone from us, Soul of all beauty and joy?

Now thou art gone the berry drops from the arbutus,

The wind comes in from the ocean with wail and the

autumn is sad,

The yellow leaves perish, whirled wild whither no one can


As the crisp leaves are crushed in the woods, so our hearts

are crushed at thy parting;

As the woods moan for the summer departed, so we mourn

that we see thee no more.

Why art thou gone from us, Soul of all beauty and joy?

Into the twilight the last notes died away, and a lonely heron standing among the rushes at the edge of the tarn moved his head critically to one side as if waiting for another song with which to sympathise. But he was not the only listener. Far up among the purple crags Standish Macnamara was lying looking out to the sunset when he heard the sound of the chant in the glen beneath him. He lay silent while the dirge floated up the mountain-side and died away among the heather of the peak. But when the silence of the twilight came once more upon the glen, Standish arose and made his way downwards to where an old man with one of the small ancient Irish harps, was seated on a stone, his head bent across the strings upon which his fingers still rested. Standish knew him to be one Murrough O'Brian, a descendant of the bards of the country, and an old retainer of the Gerald family. A man learned in Irish, but not speaking an intelligible sentence in English.

“Why do you sing the Dirge of Tuathal on this evening, Murrough?” he asked in his native tongue, as he came beside the old man.

“What else is there left for me to sing at this time, Standish O'Dermot Macnamara, son of the Prince of Islands and all Munster?” said the bard. “There is nothing of joy left us now. We cannot sing except in sorrow. Does not the land seem to have sympathy with such songs, prolonging their sound by its own voice from every glen and mountain-face?”

“It is true,” said Standish. “As I sat up among the cliffs of heather it seemed to me that the melody was made by the spirits of the glen bewailing in the twilight the departure of the glory of our land.”

“See how desolate is all around us here,” said the bard. “Glenmara is lonely now, where it was wont to be gay with song and laughter; when the nobles thronged the valley with hawk and hound, the voice of the bugle and the melody of a hundred harps were heard stirring up the echoes in delight.”

“But now all are gone; they can only be recalled in vain dreams,” said the second in this duet of Celtic mourners—the younger Marius among the ruins.

“The sons of Erin have left her in her loneliness while the world is stirred with their brave actions,” continued the ancient bard.

“True,” cried Standish; “outside is the world that needs Irish hands and hearts to make it better worth living in.” The young man was so enthusiastic in the utterance of his part in the dialogue as to cause the bard to look suddenly up.

“Yes, the hands and the hearts of the Irish have done much,” he said. “Let the men go out into the world for a while, but let our daughters be spared to us.”

Standish gave a little start and looked inquiringly into the face of the bard.

“What do you mean, Murrough?” he asked slowly.

The bard leant forward as if straining to catch some distant sound.

“Listen to it, listen to it,” he said. There was a pause, and through the silence the moan of the far-off ocean was borne along the dim glen.

“It is the sound of the Atlantic,” said Standish. “The breeze from the west carries it to us up from the lough.”

“Listen to it and think that she is out on that far ocean,” said the old man. “Listen to it, and think that Daireen, daughter of the Geralds, has left her Irish home and is now tossing upon that ocean; gone is she, the bright bird of the South—gone from those her smile lightened!”

Standish neither started nor uttered a word when the old man had spoken; but he felt his feet give way under him. He sat down upon a crag and laid his head upon his hand staring into the black tarn. He could not comprehend at first the force of the words “She is gone.” He had thought of his own departure, but the possibility of Daireen's had not occurred to him. The meaning of the bard's lament was now apparent to him, and even now the melody seemed to be given back by the rocks that had heard it:

Why art thou gone from us, Soul of all beauty and joy?

The words moaned through the dim air with the sound of the distant waters for accompaniment.

“Gone—gone—Daireen,” he whispered. “And you only tell me of it now,” he added almost fiercely to the old man, for he reflected upon the time he had wasted in that duet of lamentation over the ruins of his country. What a wretchedly trivial thing he felt was the condition of the country compared with such an event as the departure of Daireen Gerald.

“It is only since morning that she is gone,” said the bard. “It was only in the morning that the letter arrived to tell her that her father was lying in a fever at some place where the vessel called on the way home. And now she is gone from us, perhaps for ever.”

“Murrough,” said the young man, laying his hand upon the other's arm, and speaking in a hoarse whisper. “Tell me all about her. Why did they allow her to go? Where is she gone? Not out to where her father was landed?”

“Why not there?” cried the old man, raising his head proudly. “Did a Gerald ever shrink from duty when the hour came? Brave girl she is, worthy to be a Gerald!”

“Tell me all—all.”

“What more is there to tell than what is bound up in those three words 'She is gone'?” said the man. “The letter came to her grandfather and she saw him read it—I was in the hall—she saw his hand tremble. She stood up there beside him and asked him what was in the letter; he looked into her face and put the letter in her hand. I saw her face grow pale as she read it. Then she sat down for a minute, but no word or cry came from her until she looked up to the old man's face; then she clasped her hands and said only, 'I will go to him.' The old people talked to her of the distance, of the danger; they told her how she would be alone for days and nights among strangers; but she only repeated, 'I will go to him.' And now she is gone—gone alone over those waters.”

“Alone!” Standish repeated. “Gone away alone, no friend near her, none to utter a word of comfort in her ears!” He buried his face in his hands as he pictured the girl whom he had loved silently, but with all his soul, since she had come to her home in Ireland from India where she had lived with her father since the death of his wife ten years ago. He pictured her sitting in her loneliness aboard the ship that was bearing her away to, perhaps, the land of her father's grave, and he felt that now at last all the bitterness that could be crowded upon his life had fallen on him. He gazed into the black tarn, and saw within its depths a star glittering as it glittered in the sky above, but it did not relieve his thoughts with any touch of its gold.

He rose after a while and gave his hand to Murrough.

“Thank you,” he said. “You have told me all better than any one else could have done. But did she not speak of me, Murrough—only once perhaps? Did she not send me one little word of farewell?”

“She gave me this for you,” said the old bard, producing a letter which Standish clutched almost wildly.

“Thank God, thank God!” he cried, hurrying away without another word. But after him swept the sound of the bard's lament which he commenced anew, with that query:

Why art thou gone from us, Soul of all beauty and joy?

It was not yet too dark outside the glen for Standish to read the letter which he had just received; and so soon as he found himself in sight of the sea he tore open the cover and read the few lines Daireen Gerald had written, with a tremulous hand, to say farewell to him.

“My father has been left ill with fever at the Cape, and I know that he will recover only if I go to him. I am going away to-day, for the steamer will leave Southampton in four days, and I cannot be there in time unless I start at once. I thought you would not like me to go without saying good-bye, and God bless you, dear Standish.”

“You will say good-bye to The Macnamara for me. I thought poor papa would be here to give you the advice you want. Pray to God that I may be in time to see him.”

He read the lines by the gray light reflected from the sea—he read them until his eyes were dim.

“Brave, glorious girl!” he cried. “But to think of her—alone—alone out there, while I—— oh, what a poor weak fool I am! Here am I—here, looking out to the sea she is gone to battle with! Oh, God! oh, God! I must do something for her—I must—but what—what?”

He cast himself down upon the heather that crawled from the slopes even to the road, and there he lay with his head buried in agony at the thought of his own impotence; while through the dark glen floated the wild, weird strain of the lament:

“Why art thou gone from us, Soul of all beauty and joy?”

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