Were I to go to the West, from the West I would come not again,
The hill that is highest I would climb, at the cord that is toughest I would strain;
The branch I would soonest pluck is far out of my reach in the hollow,
And the track of my lover's feet is the track that my heart would follow.
My heart is as dark as the sloe in a crack of the mountain gorge;
Or a burnt-out cinder fallen down at the back of the blazing forge;
As the stain of a miry shoe on the marble steps of a palace,
As the stain of a drowning fly in the wine of the Holy chalice.
My heart is a cluster of nuts with every kernel dropped,
My heart is the ice on the pond above, where the mill has stopped;
A mournful sadness is breaking over my running laughter
Like the mirth of a maid at her marriage and the heavy sorrow after.
You have taken the East from me and you have taken the West,
You have taken the path before me and the path that is behind;
The moon is gone from me by night and the sun is gone by day,
Alas! I greatly dread you have stolen my God away!
By the Well of Loneliness I sit and make my moan;
I hear no sound in the depths below from the fall of the dropping stone;
I see the cold wide world, but my lad I do not see,
Your shadow no longer lying between God and me.
The colour of the blackberry is my old lover's colour;
Or the colour of the raspberry on a bright day of summer;
Or the colour of the heathberry where the bog-grass is rarest—
Ah! the blackest head is often on the form that's fairest.
I heard the dog speak of you last night and the sun gone down,
I heard the snipe calling aloud from the marshlands brown;
It is you are the lonely bird flitting from tree to tree—
May you never find your mate if you find not me!
It is time for me to leave this cruel town behind,
The stones are sharp in it, the very mould unkind;
The voice of blame is heard like the muttering of the sea—
The heavy hand of the band of men backbiting me.
I denounce love; she who gave it to him is now all undone;
Little he understood, yon black mother's son.
That my heart is turned to stone, what mattered that to you?
What were you caring for, but to get a cow or two?