Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NOBLE LAY OF AILLINN, by STOPFORD AUGUSTUS BROOKE



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THE NOBLE LAY OF AILLINN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Prince baile of ulster rode out in the morn
Last Line: To meet, at last, for ever!
Subject(s): Trysts; Death; Dead, The


[After an Irish tale from the "Book of Leinster."]

Prince Baile of Ulster rode out in the morn
To meet his love at the ford;
And he loved her better than lands or life,
And dearer than his sword.

And she was Aillinn, fair as the sea,
The Prince of Leinster's daughter,
And she longed for him more than a wounded man,
Who sees death, longs for water.

They sent a message each to each:
"Oh, meet me near or far;"
And the ford divided the kingdoms two,
And the kings were both at war.

And the Prince came first to the water's pass,
And oh, he thought no ill:
When he saw with pain a great grey man
Come striding o'er the hill.

His cloak was the ragged thunder-cloud,
And his cap the whirling snow,
And his eyes were the lightning in the storm,
And his horn he 'gan to blow.

"What news, what news, thou great grey man?
I fear 'tis ill with me."
"Oh, Aillinn is dead, and her lips are cold,
And she died for loving thee."

And he looked and saw no more the man,
But a trail of driving rain.
"Woe! woe!" he cried, and took his sword
And drave his heart in twain.

And out of his blood burst forth a spring,
And a yew-tree out of his breast,
And it grew so deep, and it grew so high,
The doves came there to rest.

But Aillinn was coming to keep her tryst,
The hour her lover fell;
And she rode as fast the western wind
Across the heathery hill.

Behind her flew her loosened hair,
Her happy heart did beat;
When she was 'ware of a cloud of storm
Came driving down the street.

And out of it stepped a great grey man,
And his cap was peaked with snow;
The fire of death was in his eyes,
And he 'gan his horn to blow.

"What news, what news, thou great grey man?
And is it ill to me?"
"Oh, Baile the Prince is dead at the ford,
And he died for loving thee."

Pale, pale she grew, and two large tears
Dropped down like heavy rain,
And she fell to earth with a woeful cry,
For she broke her heart in twain.

And out of her tears two fountains rose
That watered all the ground,
And out of her heart an apple-tree grew
That heard the water's sound.

Oh, woe were the kings, and woe were the queens,
And woe were the people all;
And the poets sang their love and their death
In cottage and in hall.

And the men of Ulster a tablet made
From the wood of Baile's tree,
And the men of Leinster did the like
Of Aillinn's apple-tree.

And on the one the poets wrote
The lover-tales of Leinster,
And on the other all the deeds
That lover wrought in Ulster.

Now when a hundred years had gone
The King of all the land
Kept feast at Tara, and he bade
His poets sing a strand.

They sang the sweet unhappy tale,
The noble Aillinn's lay.
"Go, bring the tablets," cried the King,
"For I have wept to-day."

But when he held in his right hand
The wood of Baile's tree
And in his left the tablet smooth
From Aillinn's apple-tree,

The lovers in the wood who kept
Love-longing ever true,
Knew one another, and at once
From the hands of the King they flew.

As ivy to the oak they clung,
Their kiss no man could sever--
Oh, joy for lovers parted long
To meet, at last, for ever!





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