I sat on cushioned otter-skin: My word was law from Ith to Emain, And shook at Inver Amergin The hearts of the world-troubling seamen, And drove tumult and war away From girl and boy and man and beast; The fields grew fatter day by day, The wild fowl of the air increased; And every ancient Ollave said, While he bent down his fading head. 'He drives away the Northern cold.' They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.
I sat and mused and drank sweet wine; A herdsman came from inland valleys, Crying, the pirates drove his swine To fill their dark-beaked hollow galleys. I called my battle-breaking men And my loud brazen battle-cars From rolling vale and rivery glen; And under the blinking of the stars Fell on the pirates by the deep, And hurled them in the gulph of sleep: These hands won many a torque of gold. They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.
But slowly, as I shouting slew And trampled in the bubbling mire, In my most secret spirit grew A whirling and a wandering fire: I stood: keen stars above me shone, Around me shone keen eyes of men: I laughed aloud and hurried on By rocky shore and rushy fen; I laughed because birds fluttered by, And starlight gleamed, and clouds flew high, And rushes waved and waters rolled. They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.
And now I wander in the woods When summer gluts the golden bees, Or in autumnal solitudes Arise the leopard-coloured trees; Or when along the wintry strands The cormorants shiver on their rocks; I wander on, and wave my hands, And sing, and shake my heavy locks. The grey wolf knows me; by one ear I lead along the woodland deer; The hares run by me growing bold. They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.
I came upon a little town That slumbered in the harvest moon, And passed a-tiptoe up and down, Murmuring, to a fitful tune, How I have followed, night and day, A tramping of tremendous feet, And saw where this old tympan lay Deserted on a doorway seat, And bore it to the woods with me; Of some inhuman misery Our married voices wildly trolled. They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.
I sang how, when day's toil is done, Orchil shakes out her long dark hair That hides away the dying sun And sheds faint odours through the air: When my hand passed from wire to wire It quenched, with sound like falling dew The whirling and the wandering fire; But lift a mournful ulalu, For the kind wires are torn and still, And I must wander wood and hill Through summer's heat and winter's cold. They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.