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Songs of Sentiment.
THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER.
This is one of the most exquisite, as well as one of the most widely popular of the songs which Moore wrote for old airs, and published under the general title of " Irish Melodies." Its air is altered from an old one called "The Groves of Blarney."
Eev. Charles Wolfe, author of the " Burial of Sir John Moore," who had a passionate fondness for the Irish national melodies, especially admired " The Last Rose of Summer," and wrote the following little story as an introduction to it.
This is the grave of Dermid. He was the best minstrel among us all,—a youth of romantic genius and of the most tremulous and yet the most impetuous feeling. He knew all our old national airs, of every character and description. According as his song was in a lofty or a mournful strain, the village represented a camp or a funeral; but if Dermid were in his merry mood, the lads and lasses were hurried into dance with a giddy and irresistible gaiety.
One day, our chieftain committed a cruel and wanton outrage against one of our peaceful villagers. Dermid's harp was in his hand when he heard it. With all the thoughtlessness and independent sensibility of a poet's indignation, he struck the chords that never spoke without response, and the detestation became universal. He was driven from amongst us by our enraged chief; and all his relations, and the maid he loved, attended our banished minstrel into the wide world.
For three years there were no tidings of Dermid, and the song and dance were silent,— when one of our little boys came running in, and told us that he saw Dermid approaching at a distance. Instantly the whole village was in commotion; the youths and maidens assembled on the green, and agreed to celebrate the arrival of their poet with a dance; they fixed upon the air he was to play for them,—it was the merriest of his collection.
. The ring was formed; all looked eagerly toward the quarter from which he was to arrive, determined to greet their favorite bard with a cheer. But they were checked the instant he appeared. He came slowly, and languidly, and loiteringly along; his countenance had a cold, dim, and careless aspect, very different from that expressive tearfulness which marked his features, even in his more melancholy moments. His harp was swinging heavily upon his arm; it seemed a burden to him; it was much shattered, and some of the strings were broken. He looked at us for a few moments; then, relapsing into vacancy, advanced, without quickening his pace, to his accustomed stone, and sat down in silence. After a pause, we ventured to ask him for his friends. He first looked up sharply in our faces, next down upon his harp, then struck a few notes of a wild and desponding melody, which we had never heard before; but his hand dropped, and he did not finish it. Again we paused. Then, knowing well that if we could give the smallest mirthful impulse to his feelings, his whole soul would soon follow, we asked him for the merry air we had chosen.