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Baile And Aillinn
by [?]


Argument. Baile and Aillinn were lovers, but
Aengus, the Master of Love, wishing them to be
happy in his own land among the dead, told to
each a story of the other’s death, so that their
hearts were broken and they died.
I hardly hear the curlew cry,
Nor the grey rush when wind is high,
Before my thoughts begin to run
On the heir of Ulad, Buan’s son,
Baile who had the honey mouth,
And that mild woman of the south,
Aillinn, who was King Lugaid’s heir.
Their love was never drowned in care
Of this or that thing, nor grew cold
Because their bodies had grown old;
Being forbid to marry on earth
They blossomed to immortal mirth.

About the time when Christ was born,
When the long wars for the White Horn
And the Brown Bull had not yet come,
Young Baile Honey-Mouth, whom some
Called rather Baile Little-Land,
Rode out of Emain with a band
Of harpers and young men, and they
Imagined, as they struck the way
To many pastured Muirthemne,
That all things fell out happily
And there, for all that fools had said,
Baile and Aillinn would be wed.

They found an old man running there,
He had ragged long grass-yellow hair;
He had knees that stuck out of his hose;
He had puddle water in his shoes;
He had half a cloak to keep him dry;
Although he had a squirrel’s eye.

O wandering birds and rushy beds
You put such folly in our heads
With all this crying in the wind
No common love is to our mind,
And our poor Kate or Nan is less
Than any whose unhappiness
Awoke the harp strings long ago.
Yet they that know all things but know
That all life had to give us is
A child’s laughter, a woman’s kiss.

Who was it put so great a scorn
In the grey reeds that night and morn
Are trodden and broken by the herds,
And in the light bodies of birds
That north wind tumbles to and fro
And pinches among hail and snow?

That runner said, ‘I am from the south;
I run to Baile Honey-Mouth
To tell him how the girl Aillinn
Rode from the country of her kin
And old and young men rode with her:
For all that country had been astir
If anybody half as fair
Had chosen a husband anywhere
But where it could see her every day.
When they had ridden a little way
An old man caught the horse’s head
With “You must home again and wed
With somebody in your own land.”
A young man cried and kissed her hand
“O lady, wed with one of us;”
And when no face grew piteous
For any gentle thing she spake
She fell and died of the heart-break.’

Because a lover’s heart’s worn out
Being tumbled and blown about
By its own blind imagining,
And will believe that anything
That is bad enough to be true, is true,
Baile’s heart was broken in two;
And he being laid upon green boughs
Was carried to the goodly house
Where the Hound of Ulad sat before
The brazen pillars of his door;
His face bowed low to weep the end
Of the harper’s daughter and her friend;
For although years had passed away
He always wept them on that day,
For on that day they had been betrayed;
And now that Honey-Mouth is laid
Under a cairn of sleepy stone
Before his eyes, he has tears for none,
Although he is carrying stone, but two
For whom the cairn’s but heaped anew.