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The Mountains
by [?]

While we live within four walls we half insensibly lose something of our naturalness and comport ourselves as creatures of the civilization we belong to. But we never really feel at home there, though childhood may have wreathed round with tender memories old rooms and the quaint garden-places of happy unthinking hours. There is a house, a temple not built with hands; perhaps we thought it a mere cabin when we first formed it, and laid aside humbly many of our royal possessions as we entered, for the heavens and the heaven of heavens could not contain all of our glory. But now it seems vast enough, and we feel more at home there, and we find places which seem nearer of access to our first life. Such are the mountains. As I lie here on the monstrous mould of the hillside covered with such delicate fringes of tiny green leaves, I understand something of his longing who said: “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my aid.” Oh, but the air is sweet, is sweet. Earth-breath, what is it you whisper? As I listen, listen, I know it is no whisper but a chant from profoundest deeps, a voice hailing its great companions in the aether spaces, but whose innumerable tones in their infinite modulations speak clear to us also in our littleness. Our lips are stilled with awe; we dare not repeat what here we think. These mountains are sacred in our Celtic traditions. Haunt of the mysteries, here the Tuatha de Danaans once had their home. We sigh, thinking of the vanished glory, but look with hope for the fulfilment of the prophecy which the seer of another line left on record, that once more the Druid fires should blaze on these mountains. As the purple amplitude of night enfold them, already the dark mounds seem to throw up their sheeny illuminations; great shadowy forms, the shepherds of our race, to throng and gather; the many-coloured winds to roll their aerial tides hither and thither. Eri, hearth and home of so many mystic races, Isle of Destiny, there shall yet return to thee the spiritual magic that thrilled thee long ago. As we descend and go back to a life, not the life we would will, not the life we will have, we think with sorrow of the pain, the passion, the partings, through which our race will once more return to nature, spirit and freedom.

We turned back mad from the mystic mountains
All foamed with red and with faery gold;
Up from the heart of the twilight’s fountains
The fires enchanted were starward rolled.

We turned back mad–we thought of the morrow,
The iron clang of the far-away town:
We could not weep in our bitter sorrow
But joy as an arctic sun went down.

–May 15, 1896