new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Irish Emigrant
Will you never be recalling
(With the great waves splintering, spread in white jade, falling
The kelp thrust outward like an old man’s beard),
All that was yours, but that you were afeard ?
It was so poor a land . . . the small ass braying
By homes where once the gentry’s silver shone . . .
Ah, the blue eyes of shy colleens a-maying! —
And, like a flash of faerie, these are gone.

Will you never once remember
The great red dog that thrust the whins aside
And on the nut-brown mornings of September
Brought home his bird, his sleek plume taut with pride?
Or tales with Irish names, and maybe true,
Told over little fires whose orange glow
Was over-canny for the likes of you? . . .
But you were man. But wealth would have you go.

Will you never yet be dreaming
(And you half-stranger) of the Irish lad
Whose eyes sought out a grey sea’s silver gleaming,
And knew that you must sail . . . and yet were sad?
Lake in the twilight, Spanish tower, story,
A white-thorn thicket, battles hardly lost —
These are the sum and earnest of your glory:
Your home — no matter what the rest has cost.


Last updated 24 September, 2003