Why does my heart beat so?Did not a shadow pass?It passed but a moment ago.Who can have trod in the grass?What rogue is night-wandering?Have not old writers saidThat dizzy dreams can springFrom the dry bones of the dead?And many a night it seemsThat all the valley fillsWith those fantastic dreams.They overflow the hills,So passionate is a shade,Like wine that fills to the topA grey-green cup of jade,Or maybe an agate cup.(speaking) The hour before dawn and the moon covered up.The little village of Abbey is covered up;The little narrow trodden way that runsFrom the white road to the Abbey of CorcomroeIs covered up; and all about the hillsAre like a circle of Agate or of Jade.Somewhere among great rocks on the scarce grassBirds cry, they cry their loneliness.Even the sunlight can be lonely here,Even hot noon is lonely. I hear a footfall—A young man with a lantern comes this way.He seems an Aran fisher, for he wearsThe flannel bawneen and the cow-hide shoe.He stumbles wearily, and stumbling prays.
(A young man enters, praying in Irish)Once more the birds cry in their loneliness,But now they wheel about our heads; and nowThey have dropped on the grey stone to the north-east.
(A man and a girl both in the costume of a past time, come in. They wear heroic masks)YOUNG MAN (raising his lantern)Who is there? I cannot see what you are like,Come to the light. STRANGER But what have you to fear? YOUNG MAN And why have you come creeping through the dark.
(The Girl blows out lantern)The wind has blown my lantern out. Where are you?I saw a pair of heads against the skyAnd lost them after, but you are in the rightI should not be afraid in County Clare;And should be or should not be have no choice,I have to put myself into your hands,Now that my candle's out. STRANGER You have fought in Dublin? YOUNG MAN I was in the Post Office, and if takenI shall be put against a wall and shot. STRANGER You know some place of refuge, have some planOr friend who will come to meet you? YOUNG MAN I am to lieAt daybreak on the mountain and keep watchUntil an Aran coracle puts inAt Muckanish or at the rocky shoreUnder Finvarra, but would break my neckIf I went stumbling there alone in the dark. STRANGER We know the pathways that the sheep tread out,And all the hiding-places of the hills,And that they had better hiding-places once. YOUNG MAN You'd say they had better before English robbersCut down the trees or set them upon fireFor fear their owners might find shelter there.What is that sound? STRANGER An old horse gone astrayHe has been wandering on the road all night. YOUNG MAN I took him for a man and horse. PoliceAre out upon the roads. In the late RisingI think there was no man of us but hatedTo fire at soldiers who but did their dutyAnd were not of our race, but when a manIs born in Ireland and of Irish stockWhen he takes part against us— STRANGER I will put you safe,No living man shall set his eyes upon you....