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Schoolmates, marching as when we play'd
and old, women and men,
The versification of this poem is in admirable keeping with the subject, which betokens no mean artistic power.
One more lyric by Mr. Allingham, and that of a different kind, I must quote. What lover of poetry does not know his “Mary Donnelly ?”
Oh, lovely Mary Donnelly, it's you I love the best!
like mountain water that's flowing on a rock,
The dance o' last Whit-Monday night exceeded all before,
away. When she stood up for dancing, her steps were so complete, The music nearly kill'd itself to listen to her feet; The fiddler moan'd his blindness, he heard her so much praised, But bless'd his luck to not be deaf, when once her voice she raised. And evermore I'm whistling or lilting what you sung, Your smile is always in my heart, your name beside my tongue But you've as many sweethearts as you'd count on both your
hands, And for myself there's not a thumb or little finger stands.
'Tis you're the flower o'woniankind in country or in town,
you to be his lady, I'd own it was but right.
the only roof, and mud the only wall !
This is very exquisite. Mr. Allingham's ballads also claim mention as being far above the average of this favourite class of composition. “King Henry's Hunt,” “The Abbot of Inis
" falen,” and “The Ballad of Squire Curtis,” are examples of his strength in narrative verse. His longer stories, too,-“The
, Music Master," &c., should be read in order to gauge the versatility of the poet.
We now come to the last name in our list, that of Mr. Alfred Perceval Graves. Mr. Graves is a genuine singer, and his two volumes of published poems encourage us to hope for still greater things from his pen. His first volume, "Songs of Killarney, " demonstrated that he was a true poet; and he has more than confirmed the reputation then established, by his “Irish Songs and Ballads.” Song-writing, at least, whatever may be the case as regards other forms of poetry, is nothing without spontaneity, and this is one of the author's most predominant qualities. Every page of the volume shows that he knows
Irish life thoroughly -- that he has observed the Irish peasant under all circumstances and conditions. Nor has he been content with this alone; he has put life into some of the old Irish traditions. A singer without humour and pathos would have small chance of obtaining a hearing in these days; but Mr. Graves has a large endowment of both these qualities. His “Father O'Flynn” is worthy to rank with some of the best things of its class, being extremely humorous and full of “ go." In so far as he has taken models, the writer has followed the best he could find. In “ Herring is King” we have a spirited song on a particular subject, where the verse and sentiment felicitously blend together. There is another thing, too, noticeable about this volume, viz., its freshness. Every stanza smacks of the thing dealt with, and that is a great matter, for it proves that the author has not been driven to burn the midnight oil to eke out his ideas in such language as he could pound into his service. In such pieces as the “ Mill Song” there is a second and deeper meaning behind that which rests upon the surface. It is songs like this which we want, songs that shall be teachers, because they deal with sentiments and emotions which affect all humanity. Mr. Graves may fairly look to wearing the laurels of Lover, if he but go on in the groove indicated by these volumes. The “Song of the Ghost" is a happy treatment of a legend which finds a home in the Scotch and other literatures. The two Irish idyls, “Riding Double” and “Riding Treble” are delightful.“ The Light in the Snow" is a poem of another type, more sustained in form and pathetic in its burden ; " Ambrose and Una" is a ballad
“ ” in the good old ballad form ; while “Snow Drift” touches deep chords in the breast by its subtle probings.' This “ Song of the Seasons" is also very happy;-
Oh! the Spring's delight
Is the cowslip brigbt,
And a whistling thrush
On a white May bush,
Summer she shows
Her rose, her rose !
The nightingale wooes her;
At dawn the lark sues her,
King Autumn's crown
Is the barley brown,
And the yellow trees
As they sigh in the breeze
Old Winter's breath
Is cold as death,
Yet the thrush he sings,
And the rose she springs
From the flame of his fairy hearth. The most casual glance at this volume will show that Mr. Graves is not a writer whose genius is exhausted by one class of effort. Like the Irish soil and the Irish people, he has both smiles and tears, and it would be difficult to say in which mood he is at his best. That he has a strong poetic sensibility, may be gathered from stanzas like the following, which will be found at the close of the poem entitled, The Hour we Parted":
The dreamy shadows
And falls the dew ;
Fly home to you.
Is foaming full.
With coaxing tone;
I see you
The singing element pervades “ Jack the Jolly Ploughboy' and “The Fox Hunt.' Mr. Graves has been more than ordinarily successful in his poems from the Celtic. The story of King Cormac and the Fairy Branch, told in blank verse, is his longest effort as yet in this direction, but it fully warrants, I think, further excursions into the same rich field. As an example of the writer's skill in handling blank verse, always the most difficult task for a poet, I will take these lines, showing how one appeared before King Cormac, apparelled as a princess, and knelt at his feet weeping :
Whining before him, a little crook-back witch.