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


The Return to Ulster

By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

ONCE again—but how changed since my wanderings began—

I have heard the deep voice of the Lagan and Bann,

And the pines of Clanbrassil resound to the roar

That wearies the echoes of fair Tullamore.

Alas! my poor bosom, and why shouldst thou burn!

With the scenes of my youth can its raptures return?

Can I live the dear life of delusion again,

That flowed when these echoes first mixed with my strain?

It was then that around me, though poor and unknown,

High spells of mysterious enchantment were thrown;

I had heard of our bards, and my soul was on fire

At the rush of their verse and the sweep of their lyre:

To me ’t was not legend, nor tale to the ear,

But a vision of noontide, distinguished and clear.

Ultonia’s old heroes awoke at the call,

The streams were of silver, of diamond the dew,

The land was an Eden, for fancy was new.

And renewed the wild pomp of the chase and the hall;

And the standard of Fion flashed fierce from on high,

Like a burst of the sun when the tempest is nigh.

It seemed that the harp of green Erin once more

Could renew all the glories she boasted of yore,—

Yet why at remembrance, fond heart, shouldst thou burn?

They were days of delusion and cannot return.

But was she, too, a phantom, the Maid who stood by,

And listed my lay, while she turned from mine eye?

Was she, too, a vision, just glancing to view,

Then dispersed in the sunbeam or melted to dew?

O, would it had been so,—O, would that her eye

Had been but a star-glance that shot through the sky,

And her voice, that was moulded to melody’s thrill,

Had been but a zephyr, that sighed and was still!

O, would it had been so,—not then this poor heart

Had learned the sad lesson, to love and to part;

To bear, unassisted its burthen of care,

While I toiled for the wealth I had no one to share.

Not then had I said, when life’s summer was done,

And the hours of her autumn were fast speeding on,

“Take the fame and the riches ye brought in your train,

And restore me the dream of my spring-tide again.”