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IF I had consulted only my own judgment, this Work would not have extended beyond the Six Numbers already published; which contain, perhaps, the flower of our National Melodies, and have attained a rank in public favour, of which I would not willingly risk the forfeiture, by degenerating, in any way, from those merits that were its source. Whatever treasures of our music were still in reserve, (and it will be seen, I trust, that they are numerous and valuable,) I would gladly have left to future poets to glean, and, with the ritual words “ tibi trado," would have delivered up the torch into other hands, before it had lost much of its light in my own. But the call for a continuance of the work has been, as I understand from the Publisher, so general, and we have received so many contributions of old and beautiful airs,* the suppression of which, for the enhancement of those we have published, would resemble too much the policy of the Dutch in burning their spices, that I have been persuaded, though not without considerable diffidence in my success, to commence a new series of the Irish Melodies.
T. M. * One Gentleman, in particular, whose name I shall feel happy in being allowed to mention, has not only sent us nearly forty ancient airs, but has communicated many curious fragments of Irish poetry, and some interesting traditions, current in the country where he resides, illustrated by sketches of the romantic scenery to which they refer; all of which, though too late for the present Number, will be of infinite service to us in the prosecution of our task.
MY GENTLE HARP !
AIR. - The Coina, or Dirge.
My gentle Harp ! once more I waken
The sweetness of thy slumb'ring strain ; In tears our last farewell was taken,
And now in tears we meet again. No light of joy hath o'er thee broken,
But-like those harps, whose heavenly skill Of slavery, dark as thine, hath spokenThou hang'st upon the willows still.
And yet, since last thy chord resounded,
An hour of peace and triumph came, And many an ardent bosom bounded
With hopes—that now are turn'd to shame. Yet even then, while Peace was singing
Her halcyon song o'er land and sea,
My drooping Harp, from chords like thine? Alas, the lark's gay morning measure
As ill would suit the swan's decline ! Or how shall I, who love, who bless thee,
Invoke thy breath for Freedom's strains, When even the wreaths in which I dress thee,
Are sadly mix’d-half flowers, half chains !
One breath of joy-oh, breathe for me,
How sweet thy music still can be; How gaily even’mid gloom surrounding,
Thou yet canst wake at pleasure's thrillLike Memnon's broken image, sounding,
'Mid desolation tuneful still ! *
AS SLOW OUR SHIP.
As slow our ship her foamy track
Against the wind was cleaving,
To that dear isle 'twas leaving.
From all the links that bind us;
To those we've left behind us !
When, round the bowl, of vanish'd years
We talk with joyous seeming,
So faint, so sad their beaming ;
Each early tie that twined us,
To those we've left behind us !
And when, in other climes, we meet
Some isle, or vale enchanting,
And nought but love is wanting ;
We think how great had been our bliss,
If Heaven had but assign'd us
With some we've left behind us !
As trav’llers oft look back, at eve,
When eastward darkly going,
Still faint behind them glowing,
To gloom hath near consign'd us,
Of joy that's left behind us.
IN THE MORNING OF LIFE.
AIR.-The lillle Harvest Rose.
And its pleasures in all their new lustre begin,
And the light that surrounds us is all from within; Oh it is not, believe me, in that happy time
We can love, as in hours of less transport we may ;-
Like a leaf on the stream that will never return;
First tastes of the other, the dark-flowing urn;
With a depth and a tenderness joy never knew ;
Yet faint is the odour the flow'rs shed about ;
That call the full spirit of fragrancy out.
So the wild glow of passion may kindle from mirth,
But ’tis only in grief true affection appears ;And ev'n tho'to smiles it may first owe its birth,
All the soul of its sweetness is drawn out by tears
WHEN COLD IN THE EARTH,
Be his faults and his follies forgot by thee then; Or, if from their slumber the veil be removed,
Weep o'er them in silence, and close it again. And oh! if’tis pain to remember how far
From the path-ways of light he was tempted to roam,
The revealings, that taught him true Love to adore, To feel the bright presence, and turn him with shame
From the idols he blindly had knelt to before.
Thou camest, like a soft golden calm o'er the sea ;
And though falsehood again would allure him to stray, He but turn'd to the glory that dwelt in those eyes,
And the folly, the falsehood, soon vanish'd away.
At the day-beam alone could its lustre repair,
He but flew to that smile, and rekindled it there,