Anna Jane Vardill

THE HALL OF FLOWERS

AN IRISH LEGEND

The spirit of Kevan’s sainted cave
Came darkly over the deep blue wave,
 While the Baalfires blaz’d in Monona’s dells;
And ev’ry spirit that loves the night
Was there to gladden the jocund rite,
But Glorvine sigh’d, as she wing’d her flight,
 “Why was I not call’d to the Feast of Shells?”

“The blue-ey’d daughter of Lir is there,
And the sister-virgins with golden hair
 That watch the fires of Kildarna’s shrine:
Would my sandals of dewy moss profane
The shining track of so fair a train?
Or fear’d they the fires of their boasted fane
 Would shrink from a step so rude as mine?

“O! they gleam but in Pleasure’s noon-tide hour,
Like the meteor-spark of the yellow-flow’r,
 Which flashes when the summer-sunbeams glow:
But flow’rs as bright for me shall rise,
Without the bounty of summer-skies,
Ere the eaglet from Kevan’s eyrie flies
 O’er the waters of gloomy Glendalough.”

Alone by those waters Fingal stood,
While the grey mist hung over field and flood,
 And he thought of his bride’s far-distant bow’rs:
Ere he look’d again, the mist was fled;
A roof of garlands above him spread,
And the blossoms that meteor-brightness shed,
 Were the living lamps of this Hall of Flow’rs.

And a thousand arches seem’d to lean
On pillars of cluster’d osiers green,
 With those starry wreaths around them hung;
The purple moss of Senana’s cave,
And the lilies that float on Kevan’s wave,
Were mingled the verdant hall to pave
 Where the lady of beauty sat and sung.

The wandering sea-maid’s melody,
Far heard at eve on the silver sea,
 When the pilot sleeps and his home is near,
Or the sweets the spirits of night distill
On the hunter’s dream by the lonely rill,
Were not so soft as the syren’s trill
 That melted and dwelt in Fingal’s ear.

The rust was brown on the warrior’s shield,
The roe had slept on the battle-field,
 Ere he thought of his love’s forsaken bow’rs;
Then the lady of beauty said, and sigh’d,
“Return and smile on thy blue-ey’d bride,
But take this living lamp to guide
 Thy steps again to my Hall of Flow’rs.”

The Chief has sought his father’s hall,
But where is the pomp of the banner’d wall
 That frown’d over lofty Inistairn?
The thistle on Fingal’s hearth has grown,
The wild doe sleeps on his altar stone—
But a voice like the harp of Tara’s tone
 Came sweetly from the moss-green cairn.

“Thy brow is furrow’d—thy veins are cold!
Thrice a hundred years have roll’d,
 Since thy spirit bent to Glorvine’s spells;
Thou had’st slept on earth in holy rest,
And the stone of thy fame had here been blest,
Had’st thou welcom’d a weary wand’ring guest,
 And call’d me to sit at the Feast of Shells.

“The spirits that feed unholy mirth
Lurk in the painted gems of earth
 That darkly in poison’d fumes decay;
And the spirit that rules a maiden’s dream
Lies hid in the pearl beneath a stream,
Till touch’d by the cold moon’s roving beam,
 It rises to aid her changeful sway.

And those that kindle a warrior’s breast
In the bright green emerald love to rest,
 Whose ray can the serpent’s eye appall:
But the spirit of truth and freedom dwells
In the wild flowers deep among Erin’s dells;
She came not to grace they feast of shells,
 Nor sat as a guest in Fingal’s hall.

I bless’d them not, and their pomp is past—
Thy walls have crumbled before the blast,
 While I shew’d thee the bliss of my secret bowers;
I have breath’d on thy soul, and thou art mine!
The living lamp of my throne is thine;
And when Fingal’s race shall see it shine,
 Thy Erin shall be my realm of flowers.”

The Chief was gone ere the day-star rose—
A thousand crystal columns close
 The path he trod on that sainted shore:
And a giant hand from the deep blue wave
Came forth the living lamp to save;—
The harp still rings over Fingal’s grave,
 But the mighty lamp is seen no more.

V.

The European Magazine, Vol. 72, September 1817, p. 263