Elizabeth Mary Little: Irish Woman Poet

Not much is known about the life of Elizabeth Mary Little; even her name is somewhat in doubt, as she is also known as Lucy Mary and Lizzie Mary. She was born in Roscommon in1864 and dies in Bray in 1909. She was one of three daughters of Joseph Bennett Little, who is believed to have gambled away the family fortune. Her sister Grace (who married Ernest Rhys), also wrote, and her other sister Isabella wrote an introduction to her posthumous Poems (1909).

A Whisper

When the grip of the black frost tightened
And hurricane winds held strife,
So weary was I of the winter
I almost wearied of life.

No sun on the level horizon,
No glimmer of blue, or green,
Only the winds’ wild pinions
Grey sky and grim earth between.

Then low in my ear a whisper
Rejoiced me exceedingly,
So dear in its dream of beauty
It dropped out of faerie.

‘Sweeter than horns of elfland
You’ll hear down a whitethorn lane,
In exquisite April weather,
The cuckoo calling again.’

Ah! some of us children of summer
So steadfastly mourn the sun,
Our eyes are fixed on the zenith
Where yearly his race is run.

‘What of the gold of his arrows,
What of the light?’ — we say,
‘What of the tarrying seconds
Should bear to us back the day?’

He is well on his wondrous journey,
His progress of royal state,
With banners and woodland music
Earth moves to meet him elate:

With music and woodland banners
Of ever-beloved green,
And the opening eyes of the snowdrops
Each tremulous tress between.

But now ’tis my heart that whispers
Pulsing a glad refrain:
‘Soon, soon, not in dreams but daylight
I shall hear it close and plain.’

Yes, sweeter than horns of elfland,
Hard by, in a whitethorn lane,
By the gold-crowned Hill of Killiney
The cuckoo calling again!


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