My Lagan Love
Where Lagan stream sings lullaby
There blows a lily fair;
The twilight gleam is in her eye,
The night is on her hair.
And like a lovesick lenanshee,
She hath my heart in thrall;
Nor life I owe, nor liberty,
For love is lord of all.
And often when the beetle’s horn
Hath lulled the eve to sleep
I steal unto her shieling lorn
And through the dooring peep.
There on the cricket’s singing stone
She spares the bog wood fire.
And hums in sad sweet undertone
The song of heart’s desire.
This poem is a beautiful example of erratic, chaotic English woven into a silver thread. It is an Irish folk song, written by Joseph Campbell. The word choice here is exquisite. The poem flows together in one fine, rippling current. Notice how the consonants aid this: soft consonants like s’s and h’s, and digraphs like th and sh—no harsh ch occurs even once. Consider the many l’s, not only the ones that begin words: twilight, gleam, shieling, sleep, blows. These l words contribute to the poem’s lilt. Try reading the poem now, pronouncing the l with the tip of the tongue, as they do in Italian, instead of using the heavier, thicker English method. What do you notice about the poem now that you have brought out the gentle l and other soft consonants?
A brief lexicon:
Lenanshee is traditionally spelt leanen sidhe. A leanen sidhe is an Irish fairy-lover.
Thrall in this case means “bondage.”
A shieling lorn is a forlorn hut.
Even after some research, the meaning of both “beetles horn” and “cricket’s singing stone” remain dark to me.