Mary Cooney: Irish Woman Poet

Mary Cooney was born in Clonmel and moved to the United States in 1879 where she married the poet John Locke 1881. She was a regular contributor to a range of Irish and Irish-American journals, and an number of books, including In Far Dakota, which was published by Allen and Co in 1890.


ONLY three years; yet it seems an age
Of yearning heart-love and care
Since I’ve heard in my own land the New Year’s chimes
Peal out on the midnight air
Out o’er the frost-crisped hills and fields,
Away to the farthest bounds
Of echo’s reach, from the beautiful bells
Rolled a volume of glorious sounds.

Only three years since I stepped from the shore,
When new day, with bright hopes reborn,
Burst in golden shafts ‘tween the sapphire bars
Of the eastern gates of morn;
I sailed away o’er the blue, cold sea,
Yet no fear in my breast would rise.
For what or for whom had I periled my life
And sundered its sweet home ties ?

I was happy at home till my soul was stirred
And my thoughts took a wider range,
And my dreams went out o’er the unseen waves
To a new world, vast and strange.
‘Twas like as my life grew twofold, and one
Was struggling with tortured breast,
While the other one roamed in restless search
Far out in the crimsoned West.

What cared I that life from one’s land and kin
Was bitter or hard to bear-
Comprising many a heart-pang sore
And many a sad, salt tear ?
My life was lost in a love unknown,
That in welcoming gladness smiled,
Waiting my advent. I seemed to be
Obeying an impulse wild.

I leaned on the rails of the steamer’s deck,
Looking back o’er the stretch of sea
That was distancing far my native land
And all that, was dear to me.
Had I cheated myself into the belief
That no sorrow my soul oppressed
That there must be another love somewhere
More potent than all the rest ?

Now my life is linked with that new-found life
Whether for weal or woe
For him, for me, as Time’s wheel whirls round,
The gathering years must show.
We must have our trials and our struggles, too,
But the future fair days may hold.
He’s wise and sometimes wild, but, oh!
At heart he’s as good as gold.

And there’s never a cloud on his cheerful face,
Nor gloom in his hopeful eyes,
So clear and keen that their depths of blue
Seem borrowed from May-day skies;
And the laugh leaps up from his genial heart,
So careless and void of guile,
As he mirthfully tells me for richer times
I must wait for a little while.

Well, we have wealth in each other’s love, and so
Let the years their shadows fling
Upon our brows, with their winter snows;
In our hearts can be always spring;
And out on the starry midnight air,
O’er the old land’s vales and dells,
We’ll hear again, in glad, glorious tones,
The peal of the New Year’s bells.


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