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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Ireland: Vol. V. 1876–79.


The Music of St. Patrick’s

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

  • The choral music of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, is almost unrivalled in its combined powers of voice, organ, and scientific skill. The majestic harmony of effect thus produced is not a little deepened by the character of the church itself, which, though small, yet with its dark rich fretwork, knightly helmets and banners, and old monumental effigies, seems all filled and overshadowed by the spirit of chivalrous antiquity. The imagination never fails to recognize it as a fitting scene for high solemnities of old,—a place to witness the solitary vigil of arms, or to resound with the funeral march at the burial of some warlike king.

  • AGAIN, O, send that anthem peal again

    Through the arched roof in triumph to the sky!

    Bid the old tombs ring proudly to the strain,

    The banners thrill as if with victory!

    Such sounds the warrior awe-struck might have heard,

    While armed for fields of chivalrous renown;

    Such the high hearts of kings might well have stirred,

    While throbbing still beneath the recent crown!

    Those notes once more!—They bear my soul away,

    They lend the wings of morning to its flight;

    No earthly passion in the exulting lay

    Whispers one tone to win me from that height.

    All is of Heaven! Yet wherefore to mine eye

    Gush the vain tears unbidden from their source,

    Even while the waves of that strong harmony

    Roll with my spirit on their sounding course?

    Wherefore must rapture its full heart reveal

    Thus, by the burst of sorrow’s token shower!

    O, is it not, that humbly we may feel

    Our nature’s limit in its proudest hour?