Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IN BALLYSHANNON, by ROBERT J. KERR



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IN BALLYSHANNON, by            
First Line: Standing on the mall, beside the salmon-leap
Last Line: From forgotten smiles and tears.


Standing on the Mall, beside the Salmen-leap,
By the dancing, singing waters of the Erne,
Where the town of Ballyshannon lies asleep
In Tyrconnell proud and stern.

I behold, as in a dream, the olden time,
And familiar forms in tender sunset glow,
And I hear the old Kilbarron belfry chime,
As in Sabbaths long ago.

In Kilbarron church my mother stood, a bride,
And its churchyard holds her kindred in its breast,
And I stand, a stranger, where they loved and sighed,
And were carried to their rest.

Far away the heedless world is surging on,
And the distant headlands greet the rising sea,
And the soundless dusk is gliding, pale and wan,
Round the river mournfully.

I go forth, as in a vision of the night,
And I journey past the bracken and the fern,
Scarcely listening, in the swiftly-dying light,
To the music of the Erne.

To the wistful cadence of its vesper song
Reminiscent of the islands and the lake,
Whence its waters wandered in a wayward throng
For the salt sea-surge's sake.

And the happy children by the Salmon-leap,
And the happy faces, vanished long ago,
Come to me in fancy as my watch I keep,
While the lonely shadows grow.

Some, perchance, sought El Dorado far away,
Some sought fair renown like valiant knights of old,
Hearing in their souls the Erne's bright waters play,
As on elfin harps of gold.

And Tyrconnell's sea-cliffs, white with spray and foam,
Seemed to call the exiles over wave and shore,
But the hearth grew cold, and desolate the home,
And the children came no more.

Only fancies floating through an ancient time,
Bringing to my soul, like music soft and low,
Vanished congregations, and a Sabbath chime,
And the dreams of long ago.

Quiet on the town, and on the misty Erne,
Quietness to-night, as in the buried years,
And, perchance, our hearts new hope and love may learn,
From forgotten smiles and tears.





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