Poem of the day

The Fair Hills of Ireland
(from the Irish)
by Samuel Ferguson (1820-1886)

A plenteous place is Ireland for hospitable cheer,
            Uileacan dubh O!*
Where the wholesome fruit is bursting from the yellow barley ear;
            Uileacan dubh O!
There is honey in the trees where her misty vales expand,
And her forest paths in summer are by falling waters fann’d,
There is dew at high noontide there, and springs i’ the yellow sand,
      On the fair hills of holy Ireland.

Curl’d he is and ringleted, and plaited to the knee—
            Uileacan dubh O!
Each captain who comes sailing across the Irish Sea;
            Uileacan dubh O!
And I will make my journey, if life and health but stand,
Unto that pleasant country, that fresh and fragrant strand,
And leave your boasted braveries, your wealth and high command,
      For the fair hills of holy Ireland.

Large and profitable are the stacks upon the ground,
            Uileacan dubh O!
The butter and the cream do wondrously abound;
            Uileacan dubh O!
The cresses on the water and the sorrels are at hand,
And the cuckoo’s calling daily his note of music bland,
And the bold thrush sings so bravely his song i’ the forests grand,
      On the fair hills of holy Ireland.

* Uileacan Dubh O!” literally means a black-haired head of a round shape,or form;and we have frequently heard it so applied by the Munster peasantry, with whom it is a favourite phrase, when speaking of the head, particularly that of a female. Some writers are of opinion that “Uileacan Dubh O!”allegorically means Ireland; but we cannot concur in this opinion,for it is evidently a love expression.

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