THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE
The kitchen of MAURTEEN BRAIN'S house. An open grate with a turf fire is at the left side of the room, with a table in front of it. There is a door leading to the open air at the back, and another door a little to its left, leading into an inner room. There is a window, a settle, and a large dresser on the right side of the room, and a great bowl of primroses on the sill of the window. MAURTEEN BRUIN, FATHER HART; and BRIDGET BRUIN are sitting at the table. SHAWN BRUIN is setting the table for supper. MAIRE BRUIN sits on the settle reading a yellow manuscript.
BRIDGET BRUIN.Because I bade her go and feed the calves,She took that old book down out of the thatchAnd has been doubled over it all day.We would be deafened by her groans and moansHad she to work as some do, Father Hart,Get up at dawn like me, and mend and scour;Or ride abroad in the boisterous night like you,The pyx and blessed bread under your arm.
SHAWN BRUIN.You are too cross.
BRIDGET BRUIN.The young side with the young.
MAURTEEN BRUIN.She quarrels with my wife a bit at times,And is too deep just now in the old book;But do not blame her greatly; she will growAs quiet as a puff-ball in a treeWhen but the moons of marriage dawn and dieFor half a score of times.
FATHER HARTTheir hearts are wildAs be the hearts of birds, till children come.
BRIDGET BRUIN.She would not mind the griddle, milk the cow,Or even lay the knives and spread the cloth.
FATHER HART.I never saw her read a book before:What may it be?
MAURTEEN BRUIN.I do not rightly know:It has been in the thatch for fifty years.My father told me my grandfather wrote it,Killed a red heifer and bound it with the hide.But draw your chair this way—supper is spread;And little good he got out of the book,Because it filled his house with roaming bards,And roaming ballad-makers and the like,And wasted all his goods.—Here is the wine;The griddle bread's beside you, Father Hart.Colleen, what have you got there in the bookThat you must leave the bread to cool? Had I,Or had my father, read or written booksThere were no stockings full of silver and goldTo come, when I am dead, to Shawn and you.
FATHER HART.You should not fill your head with foolish dreams.What are you reading?
MAIRE BRUIN.How a Princess Edene,A daughter of a King of Ireland, heardA voice singing on a May eve like this,And followed, half awake and half asleep,Until she came into the land of faery,Where nobody gets old and godly and grave,Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise,Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue;And she is still there, busied with a dance.Deep in the dewy shadow of a wood,Or where stars walk upon a mountain top.
MAURTEEN BRUIN.Persuade the colleen to put by the book:My grandfather would mutter just such things,And he was no judge of a dog or horse,And any idle boy could blarney him.Just speak your mind.
FATHER HART.Put it away, my colleen.God spreads the heavens above us like great wings,And gives a little round of deeds and days,And then come the wrecked angels and set snares,And bait them with light hopes and heavy dreams,Until the heart is puffed with pride and goes,Half shuddering and half joyous, from God's peace;And it was some wrecked angel, blind tears,Who flattered Edene's heart with merry words....