A Celtic Psaltery
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THE ISLE OF THE HAPPY
(From the Early Irish)
Once when Bran, son of Feval, was with his warriors in his royal fort, they suddenly saw a woman in strange raiment upon the floor of the house. No one knew whence she had come or how she had entered, for the ramparts were closed. Then she sang these quatrains of Erin, the Isle of the Happy, to Bran while all the host were listening:
|A branch I bear from Evin's apple-trees|
Whose shape agrees with Evin's orchard spray;
Yet never could her branches best belauded
Such crystal-gauded bud and bloom display.
There is a distant Isle, deep sunk in shadows,
Sea-horses round its meadows flash and flee;
Full fair the course, white-swelling waves enfold it,
Four pedestals uphold it o'er the sea.
White the bronze pillars that this Fairy Curragh,
The Centuries thorough, glimmering uphold.
Through all the World the fairest land of any
Is this whereon the many blooms unfold.
And in its midst an Ancient Tree forth flowers,
Whence to the Hours beauteous birds outchime;
In harmony of song, with fluttering feather,
They hail together each new birth of Time.
And through the Isle glow all glad shades of colour,
No hue of dolour mars its beauty lone.
'Tis Silver Cloud Land that we ever name it,
And joy and music claim it for their own.
 Not here are cruel guile or loud resentment,
But calm contentment, fresh and fruitful cheer;
Not here loud force or dissonance distressful,
But music melting blissful on the ear.
No grief, no gloom, no death, no mortal sickness,
Nor any weakness our sure strength can bound;
These are the signs that grace the race of Evin.
Beneath what other heaven are they found?
A Hero fair, from out the dawn's bright blooming,
Rides forth, illuming level shore and flood;
The white and seaward plain he sets in motion,
He stirs the ocean into burning blood.
A host across the clear blue sea comes rowing,
Their prowess showing, till they touch the shore;
Thence seek the Shining Stone where Music's measure
Prolongs the pleasure of the pulsing oar.
It sings a strain to all the host assembled;
That strain untired has trembled through all time!
It swells with such sweet choruses unnumbered,
Decay and Death have slumbered since its chime.
Thus happiness with wealth is o'er us stealing,
And laughter pealing forth from every hill.
Yea! through the Land of Peace at every season
Pure Joy and Reason are companions still.
Through all the lovely Isle's unchanging hours
There showers and showers a stream of silver bright;
A pure white cliff that from the breast of Evin
Mounts up to Heaven thus assures her light.
Long ages hence a Wondrous Child and Holy,
Yet in estate most lowly shall have birth;
Seed of a Woman, yet whose Mate knows no man
To rule the thousand thousands of the earth.
His sway is ceaseless; 'twas His love all-seeing
That Earth's vast being wrought with perfect skill.
All worlds are His; for all His kindness cares;
But woe to all gainsayers of His Will.
The stainless heavens beneath His Hands unfolded,
He moulded Man as free of mortal stain,
And even now Earth's sin-struck sons and daughters
His Living Waters can make whole again....