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Sweeter than the viol's string, And the notes that blackbirds sing ; Brighter than the dewdrops rare Is the maiden, wondrous fair ; Like the silver swans at play Is her neck, as bright as day ; Woe is me, that e'er my sight Dwelt on charms so deadly bright.
Among the sweetest and most famous of the old Irish airs is that entitled The Coolun or Head of Clustering Tresses, one of the charming personifications of female beauty of which Irish poetry is full. Several sets of words remain to this air of which Ferguson has translated the following: —
Oh, had you seen the Coolun,
Walking down by the cuckoo's street, With the dew of the meadow shining
On her milk-white twinkling feet, My love she is and my cooleen oge,
And she dwells at Bal'nagar ; And she bears the palm of beauty bright
From the fairest that in Erin are.
In Bal'nagar is the Coolun,
Like the berry on the bough her cheek ;
Bright beauty dwells forever
On her fair neck and ringlets sleek ;
Oh, sweeter is her mouth's soft music Than the lark or thrush at dawn,