When all were dreaming But Pastheen Power, A light came streaming Beneath her bower: A heavy foot At her door delayed, A heavy hand On the latch was laid. "Now who dare venture, At this dark hour, Unbid to enter My maiden bower?" "Dear Pastheen, open The door to me, And your true lover You'll surely see." "My own true lover, So tall and brave, Lives exiled over The angry wave." "Your true love's body Lies on the bier, His faithful spirit Is with you here." "His look was cheerful, His voice was gay; Your speech is fearful, Your face is grey; And sad and sunken Your eye of blue, But Patrick, Patrick, Alas! 'tis you!" Ere dawn was breaking She heard below The two cocks shaking Their wings to crow. "Oh, hush you, hush you, Both red and grey, Or you will hurry My love away. "Oh hush your crowing, Both grey and red, Or he'll be going To join the dead; Or, cease from calling His ghost to the mould, And I'll come crowning Your combs with gold." When all were dreaming But Pastheen Power, A light went streaming From out her bower; And on the morrow, When they awoke, They knew that sorrow Her heart had broke. ("Song of the Ghost" by Alfred Percival Graves, printed in Poems of the Irish People, 2016)
This poem is both sweet and sad, something I noticed with a lot of the Irish poems. Poor Pastheen, whose love was exiled and forced from his home. When he is dead, his spirit comes to claim the bride he never got to marry. Then she dies of a broken heart. At least the lovers were able to be together for one night, even if it was in death.
Leave a Reply