Helen Lanyon: Irish Woman Poet

Little is known of Helen Lanyon’s life. Her father Charles was an architect and mayor of Belfast and the family home was in Antrim. She was friends with the Duffin sisters and Emma Duffin illustrated here book Fairy Led and Other Verses (1915). She also published Hill o’ Dreams and Other Vesses (1907) and What the Kind Wind Said (nd).

My grief! for the days that’s by an’ done.
When I was a young girl straight an’ tall,
Comin’ alone at set o’ sun,
Up the high hill road from Cushendall.
I thought the miles no hardship then,
Nor the long road weary to the feet,
For the thrushes sang in the deep green glen,
An’ the evenin’ air was cool an’ sweet.
My head with many a thought was throng.
And many a dream as I never told.
My heart would lift as a wee bird’s song.
Or at seein’ a whin bush crowned with gold.
And always I’d look back at the say.
Or the turn o’ the road shut out the sight
Of the long waves curlin’ into the bay
An’ breakin’ in foam where the sands is white.
I was married young on a dacent man,
As many would call a prudent choice.
But he never could hear how the river ran
Singin’ a song in a changin’ voice,
Nor thought to see on the bay’s blue wather
A ship with yellow sails unfurled,
Bearin’ away a King’s young daughter
Over the brim of the heavin’ world.
The way seems weary now to my feet,
An’ miles bes many, an’ dreams bes few,
The evenin’ air’s not near so sweet,
The birds don’t sing as they used to do.
An’ I’m that tired at the top o’ the hill,
That I haven’t the heart to turn at all.
To watch the curlin’ breakers fill
The wee round bay at Cushendall.


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