Verse > Padraic Colum > Anthology of Irish Verse
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Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
 
68. The Love-Talker
 
By Ethna Carbery
 
 
I MET the Love-Talker one eve in the glen,
He was handsomer than any of our handsome young men,
His eyes were blacker than the sloe, his voice sweeter far
Than the crooning of old Kevin’s pipes beyond in Coolnagar.
 
I was bound for the milking with a heart fair and free—        5
My grief! my grief! that bitter hour drained the life from me;
I thought him human lover, though his lips on mine were cold,
And the breath of death blew keen on me within his hold.
 
I know not what way he came, no shadow fell behind,
But all the sighing rushes swayed beneath a faery wind        10
The thrush ceased its singing, a mist crept about,
We two clung together—with the world shut out.
 
Beyond the ghostly mist I could hear my cattle low,
The little cow from Ballina, clean as driven snow,
The dun cow from Kerry, the roan from Inisheer,        15
Oh, pitiful their calling—and his whispers in my ear!
 
His eyes were a fire; his words were a snare;
I cried my mother’s name, but no help was there;
I made the blessed Sign; then he gave a dreary moan,
A wisp of cloud went floating by, and I stood alone.        20
 
Running ever through my head, is an old-time rune—
“Who meets the Love-Talker must weave her shroud soon.”
My mother’s face is furrowed with the salt tears that fall,
But the kind eyes of my father are the saddest sight of all.
 
I have spun the fleecy lint, and now my wheel is still,        25
The linen length is woven for my shroud fine and chill,
I shall stretch me on the bed where a happy maid I lay—
Pray for the soul of Mairé Og at dawning of the day!
 

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