Austin Clarke

Soundings Index

The Lost Heifer

 When the black herds of the rain were grazing,
 In the gap of the pure cold wind
 And the watery hazes of the hazel
 Brought her into my mind,
 I thought of the last honey by the water
 That no hive can find.

 Brightness was drenching through the branches
 When she wandered again,
 Turning sliver out of dark grasses
 Where the skylark had lain,
 And her voice coming softly over the meadow
 Was the mist becoming rain.

The Blackbird of Derrycairn

 Stop, stop and listen for the bough top
 Is whistling and the sun is brighter
 Than God's own shadow in the cup now
 Forget the hour bell. Mournful matins
 Will sound as well, Patric, at nightfall.

 Faintly through mist of broken water
 Fionn heard my melody in Norway,
 He found the forest track he brought back
 This beak to gild the branch and tell there
 Why men must welcome in the daylight.

 He loved the breeze that warns the black grouse,
 The shout of gillies in the morning
 When packs are counted and the swans cloud
 Loch Erne, but more than all those voices,
 My throat rejoicing from the hawthorn.

 In little cells behind a cashel,
 Patric, no handbell has a glad sound,
 But knowledge is found among the branches.
 Listen! The song that shakes my feathers
 Will thong the leather of your satchels.

 Stop, stop and listen for the bough top
 Is whistling . . .

The Planters Daughter

 When night stirred at sea,
 An the fire brought a crowd in
 They say that her beauty
 Was music in mouth
 And few in the candlelight
 Thought her too proud,
 For the house of the planter
 Is known by the trees.

 Men that had seen her
 Drank deep and were silent,
 The women were speaking
 Wherever she went --
 As a bell that is rung
 Or a wonder told shyly
 And O she was the Sunday
 In every week.

Soundings Index