Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

An Extensive Investigation Into The Sources And Inspiration Of National Folk Song

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CELTIC POETRY.                          161
longing and misfortune, the characteristics of the race and the results of their cruel fate at the hands of alien conquerors, and to interpret it in measures as melodious as the sad and sweet old airs, which are the most valuable gift which the intellectual life of Celtic Ireland has bestowed upon posterity. The genuine Irish melodies are to be found in these lyrics, which interpret the spirit as well as the lan­guage of the Celtic poets, and not in the rococo songs of Moore, in which artificial sentiment is tricked out in a mechanical melody, and in which the atmosphere of the drawing-room takes the place of the free air of the hillside. Of these Celtic lyrics the greater number have been lost, the airs alone surviving, but those which remain show how strong, sensitive, and impassioned was the poetic spirit of the Irish Celtic people, and which, but for the mis­fortunes of the nation, might have left as rich a treasury of lyric song as the Scotch. The follow­ing is a specimen of the impassioned spirit of these songs, almost an improvisation, the very cry of the heart finding vent at the lips. It is entitled Cean Dubh Deelish —The Dear Black Head.
Put your head, darling, darling, darling, Your darling black head my heart above ;
Oh, mouth of honey, with the thyme for fragrance, Who with heart in breast could deny you love ?
Oh, many and many a young girl for me is pining,
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