ALBIN and the DAUGHTER of MEY.
An old tale, translated from the Irish.
1 WHence come these dismal sounds that fill our ears!
2 Why do the groves such lamentations send!
3 Why sit the virgins on the hill of tears,
4 While heavy sighs their tender bosoms rend!
5 They weep for ALBIN with the flowing hair,
6 Who perish'd by the cruelty of MEY;
7 A blameless hero, blooming, young, and fair;
8 Because he scorn'd her passion to obey.
9 See on you western hill the heap of stones,
10 Which mourning friends have raised o'er his bones!
11 O woman! bloody, bloody was thy deed;
12 The blackness of thy crime exceeds belief;
13 The story makes each heart but thine to bleed,
14 And fills both men and maids with keenest grief!
15 Behold thy daughter, beauteous as the sky,
16 When early morn transcends yon eastern hills,
17 She lov'd the youth who by thy guile did die,
18 And now our ears with lamentations fills:[Page 48]
19 'Tis she, who sad, and grov'ling on the ground,
20 Weeps o'er his grave, and makes the woods resound.
21 A thousand graces did the maid adorn:
22 Her looks were charming and her heart was kind;
23 Her eyes were like the windows of the morn,
24 And Wisdom's habitation was her mind.
25 A hundred heroes try'd her love to gain:
26 She pity'd them, yet did their suits deny:
27 Young ALBIN only courted not in vain,
28 ALBIN alone was lovely in her eye:
29 Love fill'd their bosoms with a mutual flame;
30 Their birth was equal, and their age the same.
31 Her mother MEY, a woman void of truth,
32 In practice of deceit and guile grown old,
33 Conceiv'd a guilty passion for the youth,
34 And in his ear the shameful story told:
35 But o'er his mind she never could prevail;
36 For in his life no wickedness was found;
37 With shame and rage he heard the horrid tale,
38 And shook with indignation at the sound:
39 He fled to shun her; while with burning wrath
40 The monster, in revenge, decreed his death.
41 Amidst Lochmey, at distance from the shore,
42 On a green island, grew a stately tree,
43 With precious fruit each season cover'd o'er,
44 Delightful to the taste, and fair to see:[Page 49]
45 This fruit, more sweet than virgin honey found,
46 Serv'd both alike for physic and for food;
47 It cur'd diseases, heal'd the bleeding wound,
48 And hunger's rage for three long days withstood.
49 But precious things are purchas'd still with pain,
50 And thousands try'd to pluck it, but in vain.
51 For at the root of this delightful tree,
52 A venomous and awful dragon lay,
53 With watchful eyes, all horrible to see,
54 Who drove th' affrighted passengers away.
55 Worse than the viper's sting its teeth did wound,
56 The wretch who felt it soon behov'd to die;
57 Nor could physician ever yet be found
58 Who might a certain antidote apply:
59 Ev'n they whose skill had sav'd a mighty host,
60 Against its bite no remedy could boast.
61 Revengeful MEY, her fury to appease,
62 And him destroy who durst her passion slight,
63 Feign'd to be stricken with a dire disease,
64 And call'd the hapless ALBIN to her sight:
65 "Arise, young hero! skill'd in feats of war,
66 On yonder lake your dauntless courage prove;
67 To pull me of the fruit, now bravely dare,
68 And save the mother of the maid you love.
69 I die without its influence divine;
70 Nor will I taste it from a hand but thine."
71 With downcast-look the lovely youth reply'd,
72 "Though yet my feats of valour have been few,
73 My might in this adventure shall be try'd;
74 I go to pull the healing fruit for you."
75 With stately steps approaching to the deep,
76 The hardy hero swims the liquid tide;
77 With joy he finds the dragon fast asleep,
78 Then pulls the fruit, and comes in safety back;
79 Then with a chearful countenance, and gay,
80 He gives the present to the hands of MEY.
81 "Well have you done, to bring me of this fruit;
82 But greater signs of prowess must you give:
83 Go pull the tree entirely by the root,
84 And bring it hither, or I cease to live."
85 Though hard the task, like lightning fast he flew,
86 And nimbly glided o'er the yielding tide;
87 Then to the tree with manly steps he drew,
88 And pull'd, and tugg'd it hard, from side to side:
89 Its bursting roots his strength could not withstand;
90 He tears it up, and bears it in his hand.
91 But long, alas! ere he could reach the shore,
92 Or fix his footsteps on the solid sand,
93 The monster follow'd with a hideous roar,
94 And like a fury grasp'd him by the hand.
95 Then, gracious God! what dreadful struggling rose!
96 He grasps the dragon by th' invenom'd jaws,
97 In vain: for round the bloody current flows,
98 While its fierce teeth his tender body gnaws. [Page 51]
99 He groans through anguish of the grievous wound,
100 And cries for help; but, ah! no help was found?
101 At length the maid, now wond'ring at his stay,
102 And rack'd with dread of some impending ill,
103 Swift to the lake, to meet him, bends her way;
104 And there beheld what might a virgin kill!
105 She saw her lover struggling on the flood,
106 The dreadful monster gnawing at his side;
107 She saw young ALBIN fainting, while his blood
108 With purple tincture dy'd the liquid tide!
109 Though pale with fear, she plunges in the wave,
110 And to the hero's hand a dagger gave!
111 Alas! too late; yet gath'ring all his force,
112 He drags, at last, his hissing foe to land.
113 Yet there the battle still grew worse and worse,
114 And long the conflict lasted on the strand.
115 At length he happily descry'd a part,
116 Just where the scaly neck and breast did meet;
117 Through this he drove a well-directed dart,
118 And laid the monster breathless at his feet.
119 The lovers shouted when they saw him dead,
120 While from his trunk they cut the bleeding head.
121 But soon the venom of his mortal bite
122 Within the hero's bosom spreads like flame;
123 His face grew pale, his strength forsook him quite,
124 And o'er his trembling limbs a numbness came. [Page 52]
125 Then fainting on the slimy shore he fell,
126 And utter'd, with a heavy, dying groan,
127 These tender words, "My lovely maid, farewel!
128 Remember ALBIN; for his life is gone!"
129 These sounds, like thunder, all her sense oppress'd,
130 And swooning down she fell upon his breast.
131 At last, the maid awak'ning as from sleep,
132 Felt all her soul o'erwhelm'd in deep despair,
133 Her eyes star'd wild, she rav'd, she could not weep,
134 She beat her bosom, and she tore her hair!
135 She look'd now on the ground, now on the skies,
136 Now gaz'd around, like one imploring aid:
137 But none was near in pity to her cries,
138 No comfort came to sooth the hapless maid!
139 Then grasping in her palm, that shone like snow,
140 The youth's dead hand, she thus express'd her wo.
141 Burst, burst, my heart! the lovely youth is dead,
142 Who, like the dawn, was wont to bring me joy;
143 Now birds of prey will hover round his head,
144 And wild beasts seek his carcase to destroy;
145 While I who lov'd him, and was lov'd again,
146 With sighs and lamentable strains must tell,
147 How by no hero's valour he was slain,
148 But struggling with a beast inglorious fell!
149 This makes my tears with double anguish flow,
150 This adds affliction to my bitter woe!
151 Yet fame and dauntless valour he could boast;
152 With matchless strength his manly limbs were bound;
153 That force would have dismay'd a mighty host,
154 He show'd, before the dragon could him wound.
155 His curling locks, that wanton'd in the breeze,
156 Were blacker than the raven's ebon wing;
157 His teeth were whiter than the fragrant trees,
158 When blossoms clothe them in the days of spring;
159 A brighter red his glowing cheeks did stain,
160 Than blood of tender heifer newly slain.
161 A purer azure sparkled in his eye,
162 Than that of icy shoal in mountain found;
163 Whene'er he spoke, his voice was melody,
164 And sweeter far than instrumental sound.
165 O he was lovely! fair as purest snow,
166 Whose wreaths the tops of highest mountains crown;
167 His lips were radiant as the heav'nly bow;
168 His skin was softer than the softest down;
169 More sweet his breath than fragrant bloom, or rose,
170 Or gale that cross a flow'ry garden blows.
171 But when in battle with our foes he join'd,
172 And sought the hottest dangers of the fight,
173 The stoutest chiefs stood wond'ring far behind,
174 And none durst try to rival him in might!
175 His ample shield then seem'd a gate of brass,
176 His awful sword did like the lightning shine!
177 No force of steel could through his armour pass,
178 His spear was like a mast, or mountain-pine! [Page 54]
179 Ev'n kings and heroes trembled at his name,
180 And conquest smil'd where-'er the warrior came!
181 Great was the strength of his unconquer'd hand,
182 Great was his swiftness in the rapid race;
183 None could the valour of his arm withstand,
184 None could outstrip him in the days of chace.
185 Yet he was tender, merciful, and kind;
186 His vanquish'd foes his clemency confess'd;
187 No cruel purpose labour'd in his mind,
188 No thought of envy harbour'd in his breast.
189 He was all gracious, bounteous, and benign,
190 And in his soul superior to a king!
191 But now he's gone! and nought remains but wo
192 For wretched me; with him my joys are fled,
193 Around his tomb my tears shall ever flow,
194 The rock my dwelling, and the clay my bed!
195 Ye maids, and matrons, from your hills descend,
196 To join my moan, and answer tear for tear;
197 With me the hero to his grave attend,
198 And sing the songs of mourning round his bier.
199 Through his own grove his praise we will proclaim,
200 And bid the place for ever bear his name.