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Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
 
12. The Coolun
 
By Sir Samuel Ferguson (Translated)
 
 
AH, 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 colleen óg        5
And she dwells in 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;        10
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,
Or the blackbird in the greenwood singing        15
Farewell to the setting sun.
 
Rise up, my boy! make ready
My horse, for I forth would ride,
To follow the modest damsel,
Where she walks on the green hill-side:        20
For ever since youth were we plighted,
In faith, troth, and wedlock true—
Oh, she’s sweetêr to me nine times over
Than organ or cuckoo!
 
For ever since my childhood        25
I loved the fair and darling child;
But our people came between us,
And with lucre our pure love defiled:
Oh, my woe it is, and my bitter pain,
And I weep it night and day,        30
That the colleen bán of my early love
Is torn from my heart away.
 
Sweetheart and faithful treasure,
Be constant still, and true;
Nor for want of herds and houses        35
Leave one who would ne’er leave you.
I’ll pledge you the blessed Bible,
Without and eke within,
That the faithful God will provide for us,
Without thanks to kith or kin.        40
 
Oh, love, do you remember
When we lay all night alone,
Beneath the ash in the winter storm,
When the oak wood round did groan?
No shelter then from the storm had we,        45
The bitter blast or sleet,
But your gown to wrap about our heads,
And my coat round our feet.
 
It is well, perhaps, to distinguish between “Coolun” and “Colleen.” Coolun (Cuil-Fhionn) means one with long flowing hair. Applied to a man the designation would have suggested that he was a champion of Gaeldom who wore his hair in the ancient fashion forbidden by English statutes. Perhaps it was this that gave the designation its romantic association. The famous song that is given here is about a girl.
 

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