The Celtic Paradise

John Leyden

Or Green Isle of the Western Waves

On Flannan's rock, where spring perennial smiles.
Beyond the verge of cold Ebuda's isles,
(Where, as the labourer turns the sainted ground,
The relics of a pigmy race are found;
A race who liv'd before the light of song
Had pour'd its beams o'er days forgotten long:
A Druid dwelt, — at whose unclosing gate
The spirits of the winds were wont to wait:
Whether he bade the northern blasts disclose
The ice-pil'd storehouse of the feathery snows;
Or the soft southern breezes fan the deep,
And wake the flower-buds from their infant sleep:
Whether he bade the clammy eastern rime
Clog the young floweret in its silken prime;
Or round his isle the fleecy sea-mists wreath,
Till e'en the wild-wood music ceas'd to breathe.
Oft on the tempest's blackening wings he rode,
And oft the deep's unsteady plain he trode 
Or, pillow'd on some green foam-crested surge,
Securely slept within the ocean-verge.
In his deep grot of green transparent spar,
He mark'd the twinkling path of every star;
And, as new planets met his wondering gaze,
Sigh'd o'er the narrow circle of his days.
And when hoarse murmurs echoed through the wood,
He blam'd the billows of the restless flood,
Whose heaving wastes and weltering waves enclose
The Western Isle where ancient chiefs repose.
One day, while foaming white the waters rave,
And hurl on high the hoarse-resounding wave,
A pitch-black cloud above the surges hung;
Hoarse in its skirts the moaning tempest sung;
Skimming the deep it reach'd the Druid's grot,
When its dark womb display'd a living boat.
An hundred oars, self moving, brush the seas;
The milk-white sails bend forward to the breeze;
No human forms the glistening cordage bound,
But shapes like moon-light shadows glancing round.
Unusual terror seiz'd the aged seer,
And soon these whisper'd accents reach'd his ear; —
"The boat of heroes see, — no longer stay —
Come to the fair Green Isle of those long past away!"
He heard : — strange vigour strung each aged limb,
He treads the air to ocean's echoing brim;
Embark'd, the breezes blow, o'er surges loud
He rides ; while round him clings the pitchy cloud.
Now seven times night had rais'd her ebon brow,
And seven long days the sun shone dimly through;
On either side the wind's dull murmur past,
And voices shrill roll'd wildlv on the blast:
But he no answer gave the shrieking dead,
And clos'd in sleep his eye's unwearied lid.
But when the next revolving morn drew nigh,
The mounting foam-hills swell to touch the sky,
They heave, they plunge, their shouldering heights divide,
And rock the reeling barge on every side:
With pausing glimpse the dim uncertain light
Fades, and loud voices rend the veil of night.
Shouts each exulting voice! "the Isle! the Isle!"
Again in light the curling billows smile;
They part, and sudden on the sage's eyes
The calm green fields of the departed rise.
Mild glanc'd the light with no sun-flaring ray,
A clear, a placid, and a purer day;
No flickering cloud betray'd the lurking storm,
No shade bedimm'd each object's faultless form;
Before his sight, as dreams celestial smile,
Spreads the green bosom of the Western Isle;
Where nearest objects glare not on the view,
Nor distant dwindle indistinct and blue.
Green sloping hills in spring eternal drest,
Where fleecy clouds of bright transparence rest,
Whose lucid folds the humid course reveal
Of trickling rills, that from their bosoms steal,
And down through streaks of deeper verdure glide,
Melodious tinkling o'er the mountain's side;
While echo wafts their music wild and clear,
Like breeze-touch'd harpings to the distant ear.
As through the fragrant vales they linger slow,
They feel no sultry suns of summer glow;
Nor rapid flooded by the pearly rain
Impel the foamy deluge o'er the plain.
As dews of morn distend the lily's bell,
High in their beds the murmuring riv'lets swell.
Beneath the whispering shade of orange trees,
Where sloping valleys spread to meet the seas.
While round the crystal marge undazzling play
With soften'd light the amber beams of day.
The lingering sun from his meridian height
Strews on these fair green fields his golden light,
In western billows shrouds no more his head,
Nor streaks again the morning sky with red.

The Flannan Isles are part of the Hebrides.