Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > The New Poetry: An Anthology
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  The New Poetry: An Anthology.  1917.
 
117. Liadain to Curithir
 
By Moireen Fox
 
 
  Liadain and Curithir were two poets who lived in Ireland in the seventh century. They fell in love, but while Curithir was absent making preparations for their marriage, Liadain, for some unexplained reason, took the vows of a nun. Curithir in despair became a monk. At first they continued to see each other, but when this led to the breaking of their vows, Curithir left Liadain to spend his life in penance and thus save his soul.
 
 
I
IF I had known how narrow a prison is love,
Never would I have given the width of the skies
In return for thy kiss, O Curithir, thou my grief!
 
If I had known love’s poverty, I would have given
Dúns and forests and ploughlands and begged my bread:        5
For now I have lost the earth and the stars and my soul.
 
If I had known the strength of love, I would have laid
The ridge of the world in ashes to stay his feet:
I would have cried on a stronger lord—on Death.
 
II
I, that was wont to pass by all unmoved
        10
As the long ridge of the tide sweeps to the shore,
Am broken at last on the crags of a pitiless love.
 
I, who was wont to see men pale at my glance,
Like the quivering grass am shaken beneath thine eyes;
At thy touch my spirit is captive, my will is lost.        15
 
I would darken the sun and moon to break from thy love,
I would shatter the world to win thee again to my side.
O aching madness of love! Have the dead repose?
Or wilt thou tear my heart in the close-shut grave?
 
III
I have done with blame, I have risen from the cold earth
        20
Where night and day my forehead has known the clay.
With faltering steps I have passed out to the sun.
 
Now in the sight of all I stand, that all may know
(For I myself will praise thee and prove their words)
How great was thy wisdom in turning away from me.        25
 
Who that has drunken wine will keep the lees?
Who that has slain a man will wait for revenge?
Who that has had his desire of a woman will stay?
 
Farewell, O Curithir, let thy soul be saved!
I have not found a thing that is dearer to thee.        30
In the eyes of God is it priceless? Who can say!
 
My soul is a thing of little worth unto God:
Of less worth unto thee, O Curithir, than my love.
And unto me so small I flung it beneath thy feet.
 
IV
If the dark earth hold a Power that is not God
        35
I pray It to bind up memory lest I die.
 
There was a day when Curithir loved me, now it is gone.
It was I that sundered his love from me, I myself;
Or it was God who struck me with madness and mocked.
 
If the dark earth hold a Power that is not God        40
I pray It to hide me for ever away from His face.
 
V
All things are outworn now—grief is dead,
And passion has fallen from me like a withered leaf.
Little it were to me now though Curithir were beside me:
Though he should pass I would not turn my head.        45
My heart is like a stone in my body.
All I have grasped I loose again from my hands.
 

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