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

Appendix: Lough Dan

The Pretty Girl of Loch Dan

By Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810–1886)

THE SHADES of eve had crossed the glen

That frowns o’er infant Avonmore,

When, nigh Loch Dan, two weary men,

We stopped before a cottage door.

“God save all here,” my comrade cries,

And rattles on the raised latch-pin;

“God save you kindly,” quick replies

A clear sweet voice, and asks us in.

We enter; from the wheel she starts,

A rosy girl with soft black eyes;

Her fluttering courtesy takes our hearts,

Her blushing grace and pleased surprise.

Poor Mary, she was quite alone,

For, all the way to Glenmalure,

Her mother had that morning gone

And left the house in charge with her.

But neither household cares, nor yet

The shame that startled virgins feel,

Could make the generous girl forget

Her wonted hospitable zeal.

She brought us in a beechen bowl

Sweet milk that smacked of mountain thyme,

Oat cake, and such a yellow roll

Of butter,—it gilds all my rhyme!

And while we ate the grateful food

(With weary limbs on bench reclined),

Considerate and discreet, she stood

Apart, and listened to the wind.

Kind wishes both our souls engaged,

From breast to breast spontaneous ran

The mutual thought,—we stood and pledged,

“The modest rose above Loch Dan.”

“The milk we drink is not more pure,

Sweet Mary,—bless those budding charms!—

Than your own generous heart, I ’m sure,

Nor whiter than the breast it warms!”

She turned and gazed, unused to hear

Such language in that homely glen;

But, Mary, you have naught to fear,

Though smiled on by two stranger men.

Not for a crown would I alarm

Your virgin pride by word or sign;

Nor need a painful blush disarm

My friend of thoughts as pure as mine.

Her simple heart could not but feel

The words we spoke were free from guile;

She stooped, she blushed,—she fixed her wheel,—

’T is all in vain,—she can’t but smile!

Just like sweet April’s dawn appears

Her modest face,—I see it yet,—

And though I lived a hundred years

Methinks I never could forget

The pleasure that, despite her heart,

Fills all her downcast eyes with light,

The lips reluctantly apart,

The white teeth struggling into sight;

The dimples eddying o’er her cheek,—

The rosy cheek that won’t be still!—

O, who could blame what flatterers speak,

Did smiles like this reward their skill?

For such another smile, I vow,

Though loudly beats the midnight rain,

I ’d take the mountain-side e’en now,

And walk to Luggelaw again!