Poems by Richard D’Alton Williams inspired by Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians

[Source: The Poems of R. D. Williams (1894 Edn.), available at Internet Archive - online; see also Contents, Introduction and Selection - as attached.]


Sustain me, God! - for mine own sin
Has bound me with a fiery chain,
And - like a corrach drawn within
A vortex on the black’ning main -
The while for fame, for life, for love,
I madly strain with desp’rate oar,
A spectre laughs the helm above,
And mocks my frenzied strokes to shore.
Yet down the wave there beams afar
The fire of thy dear altar, Hope!
And, while I view thy cheering star,
With hell’s dark powers I yet may cope.
Oh yes! though down the lurid wave
They try to drag my shrinking soul -
Though round remorse and vengeance rave.
And shame’s black tides in fury roll -
Be thine the smile, dear Eily, still
To light my path with gentle ray;
And not the banded powers of ill
Again shall lead my soul astray.
And when kind heaven shall cease to frown -
When this dire cloud of death is past -
Before thy feet I’ll throw me down,
In tears of speechless rapture cast             [p.246]
And thoughts that now in gloom must sleep.
From forth my burning soul shall flow,
As rills from frozen Winter leap
To hail the Summer’s golden glow.


I dreamed last night that, pillow’d on thy breast,
I heard thee sing a sad yet pleasing strain -
How pride once severed hearts that love possessed,
And how, at length, in tears they met again;

And o’er the maiden’s high and polished brow
The blush of conscious beauty went and came.
And on the youth’s had deeply graven now
Proud thoughts, and high their characters of
Upon thy breast my soul’s subsiding waves
Sank like the billows on a velvet shore -
My troubled spirit knew a moment’s rest,
And fondly deemed its earthly sorrows o’er.             [p.246]
But then I woke to weep. Oh I why, my love,
Didst thou so coldly rend our souls apart!
From thy sweet altar sternly why remove
The faithful worship of a fervent heart?
And canst thou find in all thy youthful pride,
Enthroned the queen of Beauty’s starry ring,
A joy like that when once we side by side
All the sweet eve would smile, and sigh, and sing?
Ah I once thine eyes were not so cold to me,
And when I trembled as I kissed thee then,
My happy sighs were echoed back by thee,
And thy lips trembled upon mine again.
Though sages paint thy sex to faithless be,
Alas! I mocked them in too trusting youth;
I came and knelt adoringly to thee.
Oh I bitter wisdom! now I know their truth.
But since my guiding stars - thy gentle eyes -
Withdrew their lustre from my darken’d way.
Though many lovely orbs might o’er me rise,
I trusted never their delusive ray.
Well I you forsook me without cause assigned
By you, or giv’n, the angels know, by me -
Henceforth the cold, calm, loveless joys of mind
Alone on earth my spirit’s stay shall me.             [p.247]
Go, and be happy in another’s arms;
Forget our loves - the first with both - and tell
Thy fav’rite, smiling, how thy fickle charms
Darken’d my soul for ever. Fare thee well!
—Poems, ed. P. A. Sillard, Dublin: Duffy 1894, pp.246-48; available at Internet Archive - online.

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