There is a legend that Atlantis may ever and anon be seen from the coast of Galway, shining dimly in the light of the setting sun, though never to be trod by mortal footstep more.
At eve, when the sun is setting
Off Erin's storm-beat shore,
And the weary day forgetting
Its toils so nearly o'er,
They tell us in ancient story
A vision there may be
Of the long-lost land of glory
Across the western sea.
With ever-varying splendour
The shifting clouds unfold--
Now gorgeous and then tender,
Now purple and then gold;
Now hues no earthly fingers
E'er traced to charm the eye,
Then pale the soft light lingers
Upon the darkening sky.
A wondrous, mystic blending
Of the sun's fervid light
With liquid moonlight, lending
Charms both of day and night--
Pale twilight, rosy dawning,
Rising and setting sun,
Glories of noon and morning
All melted into one.
Sands that are more than golden
Shine thro' that radiant veil,
But the seeker's step is holden
And to reach it still will fail;
Yet when the sun is setting
Off Erin's surf-drenched shore,
Which sun-dyed waves are fretting,
We glimpse that land once more.
A brief and stange revealing
To the dazed beholder's ken,
Like heavenly music stealing
Thro' the common haunts of men--
Would not his eyes part never
With a far-off, wondering gaze,
While he turn'd to the West for ever
At the gleam of sunset rays?
O, where is the new world-finder
Who to seek that land will go,
And strive by some spell to bind her
To toil-worn lands below?
Alas, on that track of glory
From boyhood he might steer
Till his locks with age were hoary,
But that shore would never near.
Yea, e'en as the great Law-giver
Look'd on a goodly land,
On the further side the river,
Where he must never stand--
Even so at the golden portal
Of the lost Atlantis fair
We may watch, but in vain shall mortal
Ask for an entrance there.
O vanish'd and mourn'd Atlantis
The legend doth well portray,
How mighty that ceaseless want is
Which words can but ill convey:
But a sword that is each way turning
Still guardeth the Promised Land,
Where youth in its restless yearning
Believes it shall one day stand.
Yet a land that is far diviner
Is offered us even here,
(That should silence each sad repiner)
Not distant, but ever near--
Not seen off the coast of Galway
As clouds of glory part,
But a land that is open alway,
And free to the Pure in Heart.