It has been my dream for many years that I might at some time dwell in a cabin on the hillside in this dear and living land of ours, and there I would lay my head in the lap of a serene nature, and be on friendly terms with the winds and mountains who hold enough of unexplored mystery and infinitude to engage me at present. I would not dwell too far from men, for above an enchanted valley, only a morning’s walk from the city, is the mountain of my dream. Here, between heaven and earth and my brothers, there might come on me some foretaste of the destiny which the great powers are shaping for us in this isle, the mingling of God and nature and man in a being, one, yet infinite in number. Old tradition has it that there was in our mysterious past such a union, a sympathy between man and the elements so complete, that at every great deed of hero or king the three swelling waves of Fohla responded: the wave of Toth, the wave of Rury, and the long, slow, white, foaming wave of Cleena. O mysterious kinsmen, would that today some deed great enough could call forth the thunder of your response once again! But perhaps he is now rocked in his cradle who will hereafter rock you into joyous foam.
The mountain which I praise has not hitherto been considered one of the sacred places in Eire, no glittering tradition hangs about it as a lure and indeed I would not have it considered as one in any special sense apart from its companions, but I take it here as a type of what any high place in nature may become for us if well loved; a haunt of deep peace, a spot where the Mother lays aside veil after veil, until at last the great Spirit seems in brooding gentleness to be in the boundless fields alone. I am not inspired by that brotherhood which does not overflow with love into the being of the elements, not hail in them the same spirit as that which calls us with so many pathetic and loving voices from the lives of men. So I build my dream cabin in hope of its wider intimacy:
A cabin on the mountain side hid in a grassy nook,
With door and windows open wide, where friendly stars may look;
The rabbit shy can patter in; the winds may enter free
Who throng around the mountain throne in living ecstasy.
And when the sun sets dimmed in eve and purple fills the air,
I think the sacred Hazel Tree is dropping berries there
From starry fruitage waved aloft where Connla’s well o’er-flows:
For sure the immortal waters pour through every wind that blows.
I think when night towers up aloft and shakes the trembling dew,
How every high and lonely thought that thrills my being through
Is but a shining berry dropped down through the purple air,
And from the magic tree of life the fruit falls everywhere.
The Sacred Hazel was the Celtic branch of the Tree of Life; its scarlet nuts gave wisdom and inspiration; and fed on this ethereal fruit, the ancient Gael grew to greatness. Though today none eat of the fruit or drink the purple flood welling from Connla’s fountain, I think that the fire which still kindles the Celtic races was flashed into their blood in that magical time, and is our heritage from the Druidic past. It is still here, the magic and mystery: it lingers in the heart of a people to whom their neighbors of another world are frequent visitors in the spirit and over-shadowers of reverie and imagination.
The earth here remembers her past, and to bring about its renewal she whispers with honeyed entreaty and lures with bewitching glamour. At this mountain I speak of it was that our greatest poet, the last and most beautiful voice of Eire, first found freedom in song, so he tells me: and it was the pleading for a return to herself that this mysterious nature first fluted through his lips: