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Best Famous William Allingham Poems

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by William Allingham | |

On a Forenoon of Spring

 I'm glad I am alive, to see and feel 
The full deliciousness of this bright day, 
That's like a heart with nothing to conceal; 
The young leaves scarcely trembling; the blue-grey 
Rimming the cloudless ether far away; 
Brairds, hedges, shadows; mountains that reveal 
Soft sapphire; this great floor of polished steel 
Spread out amidst the landmarks of the bay.
I stoop in sunshine to our circling net From the black gunwale; tend these milky kine Up their rough path; sit by yon cottage-door Plying the diligent thread; take wings and soar-- O hark how with the season's laureate Joy culminates in song! If such a song were mine!


by William Allingham | |

An Evening

 A sunset's mounded cloud; 
A diamond evening-star; 
Sad blue hills afar; 
Love in his shroud.
Scarcely a tear to shed; Hardly a word to say; The end of a summer day; Sweet Love dead.


by William Allingham | |

Autumnal Sonnet

 Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods, 
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt, 
And night by night the monitory blast 
Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd 
O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes, 
Or grim wide wave; and now the power is felt 
Of melancholy, tenderer in its moods 
Than any joy indulgent summer dealt.
Dear friends, together in the glimmering eve, Pensive and glad, with tones that recognise The soft invisible dew in each one's eyes, It may be, somewhat thus we shall have leave To walk with memory,--when distant lies Poor Earth, where we were wont to live and grieve.


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by William Allingham | |

A Seed

 See how a Seed, which Autumn flung down, 
And through the Winter neglected lay, 
Uncoils two little green leaves and two brown, 
With tiny root taking hold on the clay 
As, lifting and strengthening day by day, 
It pushes red branchless, sprouts new leaves, 
And cell after cell the Power in it weaves 
Out of the storehouse of soil and clime, 
To fashion a Tree in due course of time; 
Tree with rough bark and boughs' expansion, 
Where the Crow can build his mansion, 
Or a Man, in some new May, 
Lie under whispering leaves and say, 
"Are the ills of one's life so very bad 
When a Green Tree makes me deliciously glad?" 
As I do now.
But where shall I be When this little Seed is a tall green Tree?


by William Allingham | |

A Singer

 That which he did not feel, he would not sing; 
What most he felt, religion it was to hide 
In a dumb darkling grotto, where the spring 
Of tremulous tears, arising unespied, 
Became a holy well that durst not glide 
Into the day with moil or murmuring; 
Whereto, as if to some unlawful thing, 
He sto]e, musing or praying at its side.
But in the sun he sang with cheerful heart, Of coloured season and the whirling sphere, Warm household habitude and human mirth, The whole faith-blooded mystery of earth; And I, who had his secret, still could hear The grotto's whisper low through every part.


by William Allingham | |

Down on the Shore

 Down on the shore, on the sunny shore! 
Where the salt smell cheers the land;
Where the tide moves bright under boundless light, 
And the surge on the glittering strand; 
Where the children wade in the shallow pools, 
Or run from the froth in play; 
Where the swift little boats with milk-white wings 
Are crossing the sapphire bay, 
And the ship in full sail, with a fortunate gale, 
Holds proudy on her way; 
Where the nets are spread on the grass to dry, 
And asleep, hard by, the fishermen lie, 
Under the tent of the warm blue sky, 
With the hushing wave on its golden floor 
To sing their lullaby.
Down on the shore, on the stormy shore! Beset by a growling sea, Whose mad waves leap on the rocky steep Like wolves up a traveller's tree; Where the foam flies wide, and an angry blast Blows the curlew off, with a screech; Where the brown sea-wrack, torn up by the roots, Is flung out of fishes' reach; And the tall ship rolls on the hidden shoals, And scatters her planks on the beach; Where slate and straw through the village spin, And a cottage fronts the fiercest din With a sailor's wife sitting sad within, Hearkening the wind and the water's roar, Till at last her tears begin.


by William Allingham | |

The Little Dell

 Doleful was the land, 
Dull on, every side, 
Neither soft n'or grand, 
Barren, bleak, and wide; 
Nothing look'd with love; 
All was dingy brown; 
The very skies above 
Seem'd to sulk and frown.
Plodding sick and sad, Weary day on day; Searching, never glad, Many a miry way; Poor existence lagg'd In this barren place; While the seasons dragg'd Slowly o'er its face.
Spring, to sky and ground, Came before I guess'd; Then one day I found A valley, like a nest! Guarded with a spell Sure it must have been, This little fairy dell Which I had never seen.
Open to the blue, Green banks hemm'd it round A rillet wander'd through With a tinkling sound; Briars among the rocks Tangled arbours made; Primroses in flocks Grew beneath their shade.
Merry birds a few, Creatures wildly tame, Perch'd and sung and flew; Timid field-mice came; Beetles in the moss Journey'd here and there; Butterflies across Danced through sunlit air.
There I often read, Sung alone, or dream'd; Blossoms overhead, Where the west wind stream'd; Small horizon-line, Smoothly lifted up, Held this world of mine In a grassy cup.
The barren land to-day Hears my last adieu: Not an hour I stay; Earth is wide and new.
Yet, farewell, farewell! May the sun and show'rs Bless that Little Dell Of safe and tranquil hours!


by William Allingham | |

Meadowsweet

 Through grass, through amber'd cornfields, our slow Stream-- 
Fringed with its flags and reeds and rushes tall, 
And Meadowsweet, the chosen of them all 
By wandering children, yellow as the cream 
Of those great cows--winds on as in a dream 
By mill and footbridge, hamlet old and small 
(Red roofs, gray tower), and sees the sunset gleam 
On mullion'd windows of an ivied Hall.
There, once upon a time, the heavy King Trod out its perfume from the Meadowsweet, Strown like a woman's love beneath his feet, In stately dance or jovial banqueting, When all was new; and in its wayfaring Our Streamlet curved, as now, through grass and wheat.


by William Allingham | |

Robin Redbreast

 Good-bye, good-bye to Summer! 
For Summer's nearly done; 
The garden smiling faintly, 
Cool breezes in the sun; 
Our Thrushes now are silent, 
Our Swallows flown away, -- 
But Robin's here, in coat of brown, 
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! Robin singing sweetly In the falling of the year.
Bright yellow, red, and orange, The leaves come down in hosts; The trees are Indian Princes, But soon they'll turn to Ghosts; The scanty pears and apples Hang russet on the bough, It's Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late, 'Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! And welaway! my Robin, For pinching times are near.
The fireside for the Cricket, The wheatstack for the Mouse, When trembling night-winds whistle And moan all round the house; The frosty ways like iron, The branches plumed with snow, -- Alas! in Winter, dead and dark, Where can poor Robin go? Robin, Robin Redbreast, O Robin dear! And a crumb of bread for Robin, His little heart to cheer.


by William Allingham | |

The Boy

 The Boy from his bedroom-window 
Look'd over the little town, 
And away to the bleak black upland 
Under a clouded moon.
The moon came forth from her cavern, He saw the sudden gleam Of a tarn in the swarthy moorland; Or perhaps the whole was a dream.
For I never could find that water In all my walks and rides: Far-off, in the Land of Memory, That midnight pool abides.
Many fine things had I glimpse of, And said, "I shall.
find them one day.
" Whether within or without me They were, I cannot say.


by William Allingham | |

The Fairies

 Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather! 

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill-top The old King sits; He is now so old and gray He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist Columbkill he crosses, On his stately journeys From Slieveleague to Rosses; Or going up with music On cold starry nights To sup with the Queen Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget For seven years long; When she came down again Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back, Between the night and morrow, They thought that she was fast asleep, But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since Deep within the lake, On a bed of flag-leaves, Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hill-side, Through the mosses bare, They have planted thorn-trees For pleasure here and there.
If any man so daring As dig them up in spite, He shall find their sharpest thorns In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren’t go a-hunting For fear of little men; Wee folk, good folk, Trooping all together; Green jacket, red cap, And white owl’s feather!


by William Allingham | |

The Touchstone

 A man there came, whence none could tell, 
Bearing a Touchstone in his hand; 
And tested all things in the land 
By its unerring spell.
Quick birth of transmutation smote The fair to foul, the foul to fair; Purple nor ermine did he spare, Nor scorn the dusty coat.
Of heirloom jewels, prized so much, Were many changed to chips and clods, And even statues of the Gods Crumbled beneath its touch.
Then angrily the people cried, "The loss outweighs the profit far; Our goods suffice us as they are We will not have then tried.
" And since they could not so prevail To check this unrelenting guest, They seized him, saying - "Let him test How real it is, our jail!" But, though they slew him with the sword, And in a fire his Touchstone burn'd, Its doings could not be o'erturned, Its undoings restored.
And when to stop all future harm, They strew'd its ashes on the breeze; They little guess'd each grain of these Convey'd the perfect charm.
North, south, in rings and amulets, Throughout the crowded world 'tis borne; Which, as a fashion long outworn, In ancient mind forgets.


by William Allingham | |

Wayside Flowers

 Pluck not the wayside flower, 
It is the traveller's dower; 
A thousand passers-by 
Its beauties may espy, 
May win a touch of blessing 
From Nature's mild caressing.
The sad of heart perceives A violet under leaves Like sonic fresh-budding hope; The primrose on the slope A spot of sunshine dwells, And cheerful message tells Of kind renewing power; The nodding bluebell's dye Is drawn from happy sky.
Then spare the wayside flower! It is the traveller's dower.


by William Allingham | |

Writing

 A man who keeps a diary, pays 
Due toll to many tedious days; 
But life becomes eventful--then 
His busy hand forgets the pen.
Most books, indeed, are records less Of fulness than of emptiness.


by William Allingham | |

Half-waking

 I thought it was the little bed 
I slept in long ago; 
A straight white curtain at the head, 
And two smooth knobs below.
I thought I saw the nursery fire, And in a chair well-known My mother sat, and did not tire With reading all alone.
If I should make the slightest sound To show that I'm awake, She'd rise, and lap the blankets round, My pillow softly shake; Kiss me, and turn my face to see The shadows on the wall, And then sing Rousseau's Dream to me, Till fast asleep I fall.
But this is not my little bed; That time is far away; With strangers now I live instead, From dreary day to day.


by William Allingham | |

In a Spring Grove

 Here the white-ray'd anemone is born, 
Wood-sorrel, and the varnish'd buttercup; 
And primrose in its purfled green swathed up, 
Pallid and sweet round every budding thorn, 
Gray ash, and beech with rusty leaves outworn.
Here, too the darting linnet hath her nest In the blue-lustred holly, never shorn, Whose partner cheers her little brooding breast, Piping from some near bough.
O simple song! O cistern deep of that harmonious rillet, And these fair juicy stems that climb and throng The vernal world, and unexhausted seas Of flowing life, and soul that asks to fill it, Each and all of these,--and more, and more than these!


by William Allingham | |

In Snow

 O English mother, in the ruddy glow 
Hugging your baby closer when outside 
You see the silent, soft, and cruel snow 
Falling again, and think what ills betide 
Unshelter'd creatures,--your sad thoughts may go 
Where War and Winter now, two spectre-wolves, 
Hunt in the freezing vapour that involves 
Those Asian peaks of ice and gulfs below.
Does this young Soldier heed the snow that fills His mouth and open eyes? or mind, in truth, To-night, his mother's parting syllables? Ha! is't a red coat?--Merely blood.
Keep ruth For others; this is but an Afghan youth Shot by the stranger on his native hills.


by William Allingham | |

A Dream

 I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night; 
I went to the window to see the sight;
All the Dead that ever I knew 
Going one by one and two by two.
On they pass'd, and on they pass'd; Townsfellows all, from first to last; Born in the moonlight of the lane, Quench'd in the heavy shadow again.
Schoolmates, marching as when they play'd At soldiers once - but now more staid; Those were the strangest sight to me Who were drown'd, I knew, in the awful sea.
Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too; Some that I loved, and gasp'd to speak to; Some but a day in their churchyard bed; Some that I had not known were dead.
A long, long crowd - where each seem'd lonely, Yet of them all there was one, one only, Raised a head or look'd my way; She linger'd a moment - she might not stay.
How long since I saw that fair pale face! Ah! Mother dear! might I only place My head on thy breast, a moment to rest, While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest! On, on, a moving bridge they made Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade, Young and old, women and men; Many long-forgot, but remembered then, And first there came a bitter laughter; A sound of tears a moment after; And then a music so lofty and gay, That eve morning, day by day, I strive to recall it if I may.


by William Allingham | |

A Gravestone

 Far from the churchyard dig his grave, 
On some green mound beside the wave; 
To westward, sea and sky alone, 
And sunsets.
Put a mossy stone, With mortal name and date, a harp And bunch of wild flowers, carven sharp; Then leave it free to winds that blow, And patient mosses creeping; slow, And wandering wings, and footsteps rare Of human creature pausing there.


by William Allingham | |

A Memory

 Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond, 
A blue sky of spring, 
White clouds on the wing; 
What a little thing 
To remember for years- 
To remember with tears!


by William Allingham | |

Abbey Assaroe

 Gray, gray is Abbey Assaroe, by Belashanny town, 
It has neither door nor window, the walls are broken down; 
The carven-stones lie scatter'd in briar and nettle-bed!
The only feet are those that come at burial of the dead.
A little rocky rivulet runs murmuring to the tide, Singing a song of ancient days, in sorrow, not in pride; The boortree and the lightsome ash across the portal grow, And heaven itself is now the roof of Abbey Assaroe.
It looks beyond the harbour-stream to Gulban mountain blue; It hears the voice of Erna's fall - Atlantic breakers too; High ships go sailing past it; the sturdy clank of oars Brings in the salmon-boat to haul a net upon the shores; And this way to his home-creek, when the summer day is done, Slow sculls the weary fisherman across the setting sun; While green with corn is Sheegus Hill, his cottage white below; But gray at every season is Abbey Assaroe.
There stood one day a poor old man above its broken bridge; He heard no running rivulet, he saw no mountain-ridge; He turn'd his back on Sheegus Hill, and view'd with misty sight The Abbey walls, the burial-ground with crosses ghostly white; Under a weary weight of years he bow'd upon his staff, Perusing in the present time the former's epitaph; For, gray and wasted like the walls, a figure full of woe, This man was of the blood of them who founded Assaroe.
From Derry to Bundrowas Tower, Tirconnell broad was theirs; Spearmen and plunder, bards and wine, and holy Abbot's prayers; With chanting always in the house which they had builded high To God and to Saint Bernard - where at last they came to die.
At worst, no workhouse grave for him! the ruins of his race Shall rest among the ruin'd stones of this their saintly place.
The fond old man was weeping; and tremulous and slow Along the rough and crooked lane he crept from Assaroe.


by William Allingham | |

Aeolian Harp

 O pale green sea, 
With long, pale, purple clouds above - 
What lies in me like weight of love ? 
What dies in me 
With utter grief, because there comes no sign 
Through the sun-raying West, or the dim sea-line ? 

O salted air, 
Blown round the rocky headland still, 
What calls me there from cove and hill? 
What calls me fair 
From thee, the first-born of the youthful night, 
Or in the waves is coming through the dusk twilight ? 

O yellow Star, 
Quivering upon the rippling tide - 
Sendest so far to one that sigh'd? 
Bendest thou, Star, 
Above, where the shadows of the dead have rest 
And constant silence, with a message from the blest?


by William Allingham | |

After Sunset

 The vast and solemn company of clouds 
Around the Sun's death, lit, incarnadined, 
Cool into ashy wan; as Night enshrouds 
The level pasture, creeping up behind 
Through voiceless vales, o'er lawn and purpled hill 
And hazéd mead, her mystery to fulfil.
Cows low from far-off farms; the loitering wind Sighs in the hedge, you hear it if you will,-- Tho' all the wood, alive atop with wings Lifting and sinking through the leafy nooks, Seethes with the clamour of a thousand rooks.
Now every sound at length is hush'd away.
These few are sacred moments.
One more Day Drops in the shadowy gulf of bygone things.


by William Allingham | |

Amy Margarets Five Year Old

 Amy Margaret's five years old, 
Amy Margaret's hair is gold, 
Dearer twenty-thousand-fold 
Than gold, is Amy Margaret.
"Amy" is friend, is "Margaret" The pearl for crown or carkanet? Or peeping daisy, summer's pet? Which are you, Amy Margaret? A friend, a daisy, and a pearl, A kindly, simple, precious girl, -- Such, howsoe'er the world may twirl, Be ever, -- Amy Margaret!


by William Allingham | |

Late Autumn

 October - and the skies are cool and gray 
O'er stubbles emptied of their latest sheaf,
Bare meadow, and the slowly falling leaf.
The dignity of woods in rich decay Accords full well with this majestic grief That clothes our solemn purple hills to-day, Whose afternoon is hush'd, and wintry brief Only a robin sings from any spray.
And night sends up her pale cold moon, and spills White mist around the hollows of the hills, Phantoms of firth or lake; the peasant sees His cot and stockyard, with the homestead trees, Islanded; but no foolish terror thrills His perfect harvesting; he sleeps at ease.