Ailill and Etain by Ruth Duffin

I am wasted with longing and sorrow,
My desire is as long as a year.
O Death, if I may not possess her,
Let me feel the grey edge of thy spear.

Lying here, without strength, without courage,
My thoughts are with former things—
When I rode through the mists of November
To feast in the Hall of the Kings.

At the bidding of Eochaid, my brother,
We gathered his bridal to greet;
We drank to the joy of his wedding
In mead honey-golden and sweet.

As we sat, fell a hush on the laughter,
The doors of red pine were flung wide,
And a shout went up to the heavens
For Eochaid, the King, and his bride.

In her eyes was the glamour of wooing,
Her hands were the snow of a night,
Like the foam of a wave was her body,
In each cheek was a dimple’s delight.

I gazed, and my heart was shaken
With desire and wonder and pain;
Silent I stood ‘mid the shouting,
My eyes on the eyes of Etain.

Their light in my heart made darkness,
Their joy was an arrow that stings,
As back through the mists of November,
I rode from the Hall of the Kings.

I have given my soul to an echo;
Love seems, on the slope of the grave,
A lonely fight with a shadow,
The spending of grief on a wave.

From: Duffin, Ruth and Celia, The Secret Hill: Poems, 1913, Maunsel & Company, Ltd: Dublin and London, pp. 12-13.
(https://archive.org/details/secrethillpoems00duffiala/)

Date: 1913

By: Ruth Duffin (1877-1968)

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