Five Irish Fantasies

Song Cycle by Charles Martin Tornov Loeffler (1861 - 1935)

Word count: 1150

1. The host of the air [sung text not yet checked]

O'Driscoll drove with a song,
The wild duck and the drake,
From the tall and the tufted reeds
Of the drear Hart Lake.
  
And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night tide,
And dreamed of the long dim hair
Of Bridget his bride.
  
He heard while he sang and dreamed
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.
  
And he saw young men and young girls
Who danced on a level place
And Bridget his bride among them,
With a sad and a gay face.
  
The dancers crowded about him,
And many a sweet thing said,
And a young man brought him red wine
And a young girl white bread.
  
But Bridget drew him by the sleeve,
Away from the merry bands,
To old men playing at cards
With a twinkling of ancient hands.
  
The bread and the wine had a doom,
For these were the host of the air;
He sat and played in a dream
Of her long dim hair.
  
He played with the merry old men
And thought not of evil chance,
Until one bore Bridget his bride
Away from the merry dance.
  
He bore her away in his arms,
The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms
Were drowned in her long dim hair.
  
O'Driscoll scattered the cards
And out of his dream awoke:
Old men and young men and young girls
Were gone like a drifting smoke;
  
But he heard high up in the air
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.

Authorship

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First published in Bookman, October 1893, revised 1894, revised 1899, later titled "The Host of the Air"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The hosting of the Sidhe [sung text not yet checked]

The host is riding from Knocknarea
And over the grave of Clooth-na-bare;
Caolte tossing his burning hair
And Niamh calling Away, come away:
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a-gleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.
The host is rushing 'twixt night and day,
And where is there hope or deed as fair?
Caolte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling Away, come away.

Authorship

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in National Observer, October 1893, revised 1893 and 1899, titled "The faery host" and later "The hosting of the Sidhe"

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 3.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The fiddler of Dooney [sung text not yet checked]

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.

Authorship

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Ballad of the Foxhunter [sung text not yet checked]

'[Lay]1 me in a cushioned chair;
Carry me, ye four,
With cushions here and cushions there,
To see the world once more.

'To stable and to kennel go;
Bring what is there to bring;
Lead my Lollard to and fro,
Or gently in a ring.

'Put the chair upon the grass:
Bring Rody and his hounds,
That I may contented pass
From these earthly bounds.'

His eyelids droop, his head falls low,
His old eyes cloud with dreams;
The sun upon all things that grow
Falls in sleepy streams.

Brown Lollard treads upon the lawn,
And to the armchair goes,
And now the old man's dreams are gone,
He smooths the long brown nose.

And now moves many a pleasant tongue
Upon his wasted hands,
For leading aged hounds and young
The huntsman near him stands.

'Huntsmam Rody, blow the horn,
Make the hills reply.'
The huntsman loosens on the morn
A gay wandering cry.

Fire is in the old man's eyes,
His fingers move and sway,
And when the wandering music dies
They hear him feebly say,

'Huntsman Rody, blow the horn,
Make the hills reply.'
'I cannot blow upon my horn,
I can but weep and sigh.'

Servants round his cushioned place
Are with new sorrow wrung;
Hounds are gazing on his face,
Aged hounds and young.

One blind hound only lies apart
On the sun-smitten grass;
He holds deep commune with his heart:
The moments pass and pass:

The blind hound with a mournful din
Lifts slow his wintry head;
The servants bear the body in;
The hounds wail for the dead.

Authorship

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 alternatively, "Now lay"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The Song of Caitilin ni Uallachain [sung text checked 1 time]

[In vain, in vain, we turn to Spain -- she heeds us not.
Yet may we still, by strength of will, amend our lot.
O, yes! our foe shall yet lie low -- our swords are drawn!
For her, our Queen, our Caitilin ni Uallachain!

Yield not to fear! The time is near -- with sword in hand
We soon shall chase the Saxon race far from our land.
What glory then to stand as men on field and bawn,
And see all sheen our Caitilin ni Uallachain!]1

How tossed, how lost, with all hopes crossed, we [long]1 have been!
Our gold is gone; gear have we none, as all have seen;
But ships shall brave the Ocean's wave, and morn shall dawn
On Eire green, on Caitilin ni Uallachain.

Let none believe this lovely Eve outworn or old --
Fair is her form, her blood is warm, her heart is bold.
[Though strangers long have wrought her wrong, she will not fawn --
Will not prove mean, our Caitilin ni Uallachain!

Her stately air, her flowing hair -- her eyes that far
Pierce through the gloom of Banba's doom, each like a star;]1
Her songful voice that makes rejoice hearts Grief hath gnawn,
Prove her our Queen, our Caitilin ni Uallachain!

We will not bear the chains we wear, not bear them long
We seem bereaven, but mighty Heav'n will make us strong,
The God who led through Ocean Red all Israel on
Will aid our Queen, our Caitilin ni Uallachain!

O, Virgin pure! our true and sure defence thou art!
Pray thou thy Son to help us on in hand and heart!
Our Prince, our Light, shall banish night, then beameth Dawn,
Then shall be seen our Caitilin ni Uallachain!

   Summing-Up

[Phœbus shines brightly with his rays so pure,
The moon and stars their courses run;
The firmament is not darkened by clouds or mist,
As our true king with his troops over the ocean comes.]1

Our priests are as one man imploring Christ,
Our bards are songful, and their gloom dispelled;
[The poor Gael of Inis-Eilge in calm now rest
Before James, the son of James, and the Duke
Who over ocean comes.]2

Authorship

Based on

View original text (without footnotes)
1 not set by Loeffler
2 Loeffler:
Our souls are hopeful, our hearts know not fear
When we think of our Caitilin ni Uallachain!
So morn shall dawn on Eire green, on Caitilin ni Uallachain!
The God who led through Ocean Red all Israel on
Will aid our Queen, our Caitilin ni Uallachain.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]