A Celebration of Women Writers

"Raftery's Praise of Mary Hynes." translated by Lady Augusta Persse Gregory (1852-1932)
Publication: The Kiltartan Poetry Book. by Lady Gregory. New York: G. Putnam's Sons, 1919. pp. 31-33.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 31] 

Raftery's Praise of Mary Hynes

GOING to Mass by the will of God, the day came wet and the wind rose; I met Mary Hynes at the cross of Kiltartan, and I fell in love with her there and then.

I spoke to her kind and mannerly, as by report was her own way; and she said "Raftery my mind is easy; you may come to-day to Ballylee."

When I heard her offer I did not linger; when her talk went to my heart my heart rose. We had only to go across the three fields; we had daylight with us to Ballylee.

The table was laid with glasses and a quart measure; she had fair hair and she sitting beside me; and she said, "Drink, Raftery, and a hundred welcomes; there is a strong cellar in Ballylee." [Page 32] 

O star of light and O sun in harvest; O amber hair, O my share of the world! Will you come with me on the Sunday, till we agree together before all the people?

I would not begrudge you a song every Sunday evening; punch on the table or wine if you would drink it. But O King of Glory, dry the roads before me till I find the way to Ballylee.

There is sweet air on the side of the hill, when you are looking down upon Ballylee; when you are walking in the valley picking nuts and blackberries, there is music of the birds in it and music of the Sidhe.

What is the worth of greatness till you have the light of the flower of the branch that is by your side? There is no good to deny it or to try and hide it; she is the sun in the heavens who wounded my heart.

There was no part in Ireland I did not travel, from the rivers to the tops of the mountains; to the edge of Lough Greine whose mouth is hidden, and I saw no beauty but was behind hers. [Page 33] 

Her hair was shining and her brows were shining too; her face was like herself, her mouth pleasant and sweet; She is the pride and I give her the branch; she is the shining flower of Ballylee.

It is Mary Hynes, the calm and easy woman, has beauty in her mind and in her face. If a hundred clerks were gathered together, they could not write down a half of her ways.

[Page 34]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom