Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THREE THROWS AND ONE, by JANE BARLOW



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THREE THROWS AND ONE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Still dusk shuts out the shimmering sea, / shuts in the shadowy shore
Last Line: Con sees the white face of his doom through all the world grown dim.
Subject(s): Fish & Fishing; Luck; Sailing & Sailors; Sea; Wishes; Anglers; Seamen; Sails; Ocean


STILL dusk shuts out the shimmering sea, shuts in the shadowy shore,
Where Con, the barefoot fisher-boy, comes carrying sail and oar,
For to Norah Foyle of Inish Greine his heart fares evermore.

The night-glooms follow and flit to blur his footsteps on the sands,
Till they stay fast by the blink of foam, and there he mourning stands:
'Ill luck for him that brings to woo full heart and empty hands.'

A sigh wafts by of wave and wind, and all the world lies dim:
But up on a sudden leaps the moon above a black cloud's rim,
Like a salmon's leap from a dark pool, deep where woodland waters brim.

And anon around him strand and tide in a crystal clearness set,
And what but a stranger dame stands here, where the furthest ripples fret?
O'er an owl-grey cloak long hair hangs white, at her feet is a dun-coiled net.

'You are welcome, Con Neill; will you help me, who weary of fishing alone?
Will you try for the marvels this meshes, and grasp them, and make them your
own?
Few enough be the fools would refuse, what right many would sue to be shown.

'At each throw of my net there's a life must go down unto death in the sea;
At each throw of my net it comes laden, O rare, with my wish back to me,
With my choice of all treasures most peerless that lapt in the oceans be.

'For there lie fair jewels that blaze like the bow of the heavens on fire:
Girdle and necklet and diadem, meet for a High-Queen's tire,
And moonlight and sunlight of silver and gold to the soul's desire.

'But look you, Con Neill, I will grant you a boon you may bless evermore:
Three times you shall throw for a wish of your own, and straight draw it to
shore,
And then once for a gift I shall choose you from spoil in the wide seas' store.

'Thrice and once, O Con Neill, yea, three times shall you throw for a gift of
your choosing,
And once more for a gift of mine own, that your heart would be grieved at
refusing:
Take and throw, wish and win, lest delaying, life's luck you perchance may be
losing.'

'Ah, Norah dhu, to wake the smile in your dark eyes' night of stars
I'd beat the lonesome waters wide, that wash o'er awful bars—
I throw, I throw; come weal or woe, 'tis myself it makes or mars.

'Pearls first, a wreath of pearls I choose, yet these although they bear
The sheen in them of moonlit foam, her throat's white must not dare;
She shall twine them thick as snowberries in the soft shade of her hair.'

A far voice cried across the tide like call of scudding mew,
As the curven wave sucked in the net, that home rich-fraught he drew;
The pearls were pure as bubbles blown of lilies charmed to dew.

'A necklet where the emeralds shine more bright than glance of snake,
And green as if young beechen-buds in flame for leaf should break.
If I clasped it right where I would this night, I'd think I dreamed awake.'

A moan strayed nigh 'twixt sea and sky, as 'twere a wood-dove lost,
As to and fro, through ebb and flow, the net went lightly tossed;
'Twas rayed with gleams like clear spray of streams on sunny banks deep-mossed.

'Lo, now, this hand would hold and hide the ransom of a king—
A diamond, flash of storm-cloud thralled to lighten in a ring:
A wandering star that seeks its Heaven I'll say to her I bring.'

A curlew's cry fled wailing by, most sad of songs that soar,
As o'er the hollow ridges wan, and past the foam-band hoar,
The dull net swept an owch of frost with a fire-throb at its core.

'Now off and row for Inish Greine as fast as oars may fall.
Sweet Norah dhu, a beggar I come, and come with offer of all.
If I may give, and you will take, our luck is great and small.'

'You are thankless, Con Neill, so I fear me, forgetting the promise I gave,
And the gift of my choosing to throw for, and draw to you out of the wave;
Yet perchance 'tis the dearest of any—a treasure you'd perish to save.'

Like laughter through the stark, clear hush, a wind came skirling high,
As once again the net he cast: 'This last best chance have I,
For mine is hers, and hers God wish the happiest under sky.'

But slowly, slowly creeps again, through shallows homeward trolled,
For strain and stress so frail the net, its strands seem loth to hold;
Shall he find this gift from the ocean's drift his colleen's weight in gold?

Trailed slow and slow—yet swift doth grow on sight and heart the
dread—
Mavrone, mavrone, what hands of foam have wreathed that dark-tressed head?
The wave runs home, but still as stone lies Norah—drowned and dead.

'Are you dreaming, Con Neill, now, that witless you stand while the wave ebbs
away?
She has travelled the long road this night; have you never a greeting to say?
Twine the pearls, set the ring on her finger; no fear she would answer you nay.'

Like a salmon's leap in a dark pool, deep where woodland waters brim,
Down on a sudden drops the moon behind a black cloud's rim.
Con sees the white face of his doom through all the world grown dim.





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