« AnteriorContinuar »
LINES BY LEUMAS,
The rosy morn with gladdening rod
Her maids were hasting to deck the fair
And pearly satin in richest folds,
My merry steeds greet, her father cries,
Why tarries my daughter, the mother cailo;
Ah hasten, a voice at her chamber sighs,
She heeds not the noise of her father's train,
A winding sheet was lier brida) robe,
The above is a true story. In march, 1825, the Hon. Miss Ely dead while in the act of dressing for the marriage ceremony.
* Ratler and Bess her two favourite horses,
According as a nation advances from barbarism to civilization, its condi tion becomes less picturesque, and its language less poetical. In the progress of artificial life society gradually assumes a tame and uniform aspect, and in proportion as a language is made subservient to. the purposes
of science and commerce although its vocabulary may be enlarged,' it loses the bold and figurative character of its primitive state. The scope for individual prowess is continually narrowing—the passions which stimulate to enterprise are checked or disguised, and the language which was glowing and illustrative from being made the almost exclusive vehicle of feeling and imagination becomes chastened down to the sobriety of cold reflection and conventional forms.
It will not, we think be denied that at the period our language ceased to be cultivated, it was more highly poetical from the imperfect state of our civilization, than any of the European languages of the present day. Let us not be understood however as coinciding with the opinions of those who sneer at our claims to early civilization. These persons have for the most part, substituted hypothesis for argument, and sophistry for facts, but whilst we assert that Ireland was the Goshen of the moral world, during the reign of Gothic darkness, we are willing to admit that our advances in artificial life even at the period were comparatively limited, and that for some ages previous to the English invasion, the retrogade which had taken place in the Irish mind was very considerable.
However much the national character has suffered in its enthusiasm, and the language in its purity, the Irish temperament still continues ardent and imaginative, and our national tonguje being radically euphonious possesses even as yet great facilities for versification. The extraordinary powers for extemporaneous composition which our Irish improvositori exhibit, furnish a striking illustration of this assertion. From the properties of its mechanical structure, it appears more musical than any of the modern languages of Europe. It is more sonorous in its quantities and more vocalic in its construction than the English, Its modulations are as delicate—and its terminations - more varied than those of the Italian, and it may be said to combine the majesty of the Spanish, and the suavity of the French, without the croaking gutterals of the one, or the nasal monotony of the other. To some we doubt not that this opinion may appear to proceed from an overweening nationality; but we must say for our own parts that our judgment on the subject has not been hastily formed, and that in its adoption we have endeavoured to preserve the impartiality of the judicial temper unimpaired by any undue prejudices. “An occurrence which has fallen within our own observation may serve to give a greater degree of credibility to our words, with persons unacquainted with the Irish language. A poor Italian happened to travel some time since through the interior of this county. He was equally unacquainted with the English and the Irish tongue, and could only judge of either language from its harmony. When he heard English spoken, the words appeared to grate upon his ear with peculiar harshness, but his countenance brightened up, and his whole manner evinced the greatest delight on hearing the liquid and sonorous flow of the Irish language. With such powerful col. lateral causes, it is not to be wondered at, that our poetical temperament should survive the changes of society, and it cannot be questioned that even at the present day, (although the quality has deger.erated,) the quantity of poetry produced by the lower orders of this country exceeds that of any other people in Europe.
It is true that minstrelsy is no longer a profession in Ireland. The pageantry of the feudal times is long since faded into the dreams of history. The chieftain is no more the castle is a ruin, and the festive hall is still and grassgrown. But the genius of the people remains eminently poetical, and although the harp is rent and broken, the spirit that informed its chords has lost nothing of its fire and of its tenderness. Filleas* continue from time to time to arise amongst us, and to cheer the sorrows and the privations of humble life with the light of song. We admit that the pervading spirit of our poetry, like that of our music is of a melancholy and in some instances almost of an oppressive character, and that even its light effusions are "pleasant but mournful to the soul.” But few will question its power over a people acquainted with “the joy of grief."
There is no species of Irish Poetry more characteristic ihan the Caoin--or death song. It neither exbibits those marks of identity which pervade the popular legends of every country, nor is it amalgamated with those extraneous allusiong wbich distinguish the Jacobite relics and other political effusions, but preserves unbroken the essential traits of an ancient usage, and exhibits the Irish mind under the excitation of one of the most powerful passions. Unlike many other customs, instead of degenerating, it appears to us to have improved with time, and in its present extemporaneous state, it has frequently excited our feeling to a degree which the accompaniment of the harp, the choral and semichoral divisions and the entire musical arrangement, which give such an artificial character to its ancient form would have been unable to effect. Whatever the influential causes may be, and we think they are very obvious, it must be admitted that no people cherish the memory of their departed friends with deeper feelings of love and veneration than the Irish. It is true that the expression of their sorrow like that of their other passions is often violent and exaggerated, and may grate rather harshly on philosophic ears—but for our parts we have not merely found matter for curiosity, but even for sympathy and interest, in the funeral ceremonies of our countrymen. It may be that silence and privacy are better adapted to the house of sorrow than the bustle of a pumerous assembly, and that the silent throb and tear. better express the feelings of the mourner than the loud voice of lamentation.— Yet apart from the difference of national temperament, we cannot help thinking that a little extravagance in this way is just as pardonable as the opposite extreme of apathetic coldness with which our more polished neighbours discharge the last sad offices of humanity. Although the beautiful sentiment copied by Gray from Clio Magno may be nothing more than the exposition of our frailty, it is certain that our sensibility to the endearments and tributes of affection becomes more acute in our last moments, and it was not perhaps the least severe of the calamities which the Prophet denounced against the impious Joachim, that there would be none to “mourn over him."
From the enquiries we have made concerning the tragical circumstance that gave rise to the following effusion, we learn that Felix M.Carthy had been compelled during a period of disturbance and persecution to fly for safety to a mountainous region in the western part of this county. He was accompanied in his fight by a wife and four children, and found an asylum in a lone and secluded glen, where he constructed a rude kind ot habitation, as a temporary residence. One night during the absence of himself and his wife, this ill contrived structure suddenly gave way, and buried the four children, who were asleep at the time, in its ruins. What the feelings of the father were, will be best learned from the following lamentation. We have been most anxious to give as clear an idea of the original as possible, to the English reader, and for this reason we have rendered some passages verbatim and have endeavoured as much as possible to transfer the powerful feeling and energy of the original, at the expense of those lighter graces of composition which are of very subordinate importance. In point of style the merits of the original are very considerable. It is superior to any specímen of Irish poetry we have seen as yet—both in chasteness of expression and harmony of language. Of these however the English reader can form to idea. In speaking of the process of translating Irish poetry into English, we shall not use Alfieri's figure by saying that it resembles transferring an air from the harp to the hurdy-gurdy, but we think it has been the impression of all who have attempted the matter that at best they merely succeded in rendering the energy of the original, to the exclusion of those graces which are peculiar to the Irish tongue, and which form a part of its mechanical structure. The lament which we subjoin, concludes with a fearful curse on the glen where the accident occurred. He prays that the sun and stars may never shed their light on it-that the curse of the Most High may wither it up-that the “ poison of its treachery' towards him may ever adhere to it, and he baptizes it “the glen of ruin, from that day forward, because in one night it made an old man of him, in the bloom of his youth,”
LAMENTATION OF FELIX M'CARTHY.
I'U sing my children's death song tho'
I'll sing their death song tho' the dart
Weep not the widow's grief to see,
But weep for one whose bitter waill
Yes! I will sing this song
Thou Callaghan devoid of sing.no
My four sweet children fair and brare
Vain was the blood of Eiver's race,
Múte are the tongues that sang for ing
Oh! but for him whose head was bow'd
Yet mourned not he in voiceless gloom,
Yet for his kindred from the clay