Thomas Caulfield Irwin was an Irish poet, born in Warrenpoint, County Down in 1832; although he may not be well-known outside his native land, this maybe the poem which is recognised further afield. He was a writer and journalist, and was a prolific contributor to the journal ‘Nation’ and other periodicals; as well as poetry he wrote stories and sketches.
He wrote ‘Poems’ published in 1866, ‘Irish Poems and Legends: historical and traditionary, with illustrative notes ‘which was published in 1869 and ‘Songs and romances etc.’ published in 1878, the latter just four years before he died, tragically insane.
The Faerie’s Child
Amid the nut grove, still and brown,
The Faerie’s Child is walking.
List, list, as the leaves come down,
To the sprites around her talking.
Along the windy, waving grass
Their evening whispers breathe and pass:
From yon aged bending bough
Their leafy language floats below:
And now o’erhead in the air ’tis streaming.
Oh! who can tell what things she hears —
What secrets of the faery spheres,
That fill her eyes with silent tears!
Sweet wandering fancy-charmed child,
With cheek so pale, and eyes so wild.
Oh! what shall come of this lonely dreaming!
Down by the sun-dry harvest road,
Through quiet evening’s hours,
She paces with her scented load
Of late-year moss and flowers.
Blooms from the wood of every hue,
Moon pale, purple, jet, and blue;
Woven in bunches, and lightly press’d
Upon her simple, snowy breast,
And through the brown locks wildly tressed
Nodding in crownlets o’er her.
And, lo! as the cloud on ocean’s brim
With moonlight has enriched its rim,
A quaint wild shape, with kindly eyes,
And a smile like a star of the distant skies,
Goes tripping along the path before her.
Now by her pillow, small and white,
‘Mid faded leaflets lying,
An eager star, like a taper light,
O’er the curtain’s edge is spying.
The scent of the broom-buds fills the room;
The window is full of the bare blue gloom,
And by the low hearth ashily sinking,
Half asleep is the faery winking.
Out in the air there comes a sound
Of music eddying round and round
The ivied chimneys — swooning near
The glassy pane, and streaming clear
As moonlight into the little ear,
Like a shell in brown weed gleaming;
And, just as the first bird, mounted high
On the sycamore’s tinkling canopy,
Sings to the first red streak of day,
Her soul with the faeries speeds away,
O’er field, and stream, and hamlet grey,
Where the weary folk are dreaming.
— Thomas Caulfield Irwin
Here is another poem by him: