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- The Land Of Heart's Desire - 1/5 -

Produced by Marjorie Fulton



First Edition ............................ 1894 Second Edition (in "Poems" by W. B. Yeats) 1895 Third Edition ,, ,, 1899 Fourth Edition ,, ,, 1901 Fifth Edition ,, ,, 1904 Sixth Edition ,, ,, 1908 Seventh Edition (revised) ................ 1912

(All rights reserved.)



O Rose, thou art sick. WILLIAM BLAKE


The Scene is laid in the Barony of Kilmacowen, in the County of Sligo, and at a remote time.


SCENE.--A room with a hearth on the floor in the middle of a deep alcove to the Right. There are benches in the alcove and a table; and a crucifix on the wall. The alcove is full of a glow of light from the fire. There is an open door facing the audience to the Left, and to the left of this a bench. Through the door one can see the forest. It is night, but the moon or a late sunset glimmers through the trees and carries the eye far off into a vague, mysterious World.

MAURTEEN BRUIN, SHAWN BRUIN, and BRIDGET BRUIN sit in the alcove at the table or about the fire. They are dressed in the costume of some remote time, and near them sits an old priest, FATHER HART. He may be dressed as a friar. There is food and drink upon the table. MARY BRUIN stands by the door reading a book. If she looks up she can see through the door into the wood.

BRIDGET. Because I bid her clean the pots for supper She took that old book down out of the thatch; She has been doubled over it ever since. We should be deafened by her groans and moans Had 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. Mother, you are too cross.

BRIDGET. You've married her, And fear to vex her and so take her part.

MAURTEEN (to FATHER HART) It is but right that youth should side with youth 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 grow As quiet as a puff-ball in a tree When but the moons of marriage dawn and die For half a score of times.

FATHER HART. Their hearts are wild, As be the hearts of birds, till children come.

BRIDGET. She would not mind the kettle, milk the cow, Or even lay the knives and spread the cloth.

SHAWN. Mother, if only--

MAURTEEN. Shawn, this is half empty; Go, bring up the best bottle that we have.

FATHER HART. I never saw her read a book before, What can it be?

MAURTEEN (to SHAWN) What are you waiting for? You must not shake it when you draw the cork it's precious wine, so take your time about it.

(SHAWN goes.)

(To priest) There was a Spaniard wrecked at Ocris Head, When I was young, and I have still some bottles. He cannot bear to hear her blamed; the book Has lain up in the thatch these fifty years; My father told me my grandfather wrote it, And killed a heifer for the binding of it-- But supper's spread, and we can talk and eat. It was little good he got out of the book, Because it filled his house with rambling fiddlers, And rambling ballad-makers and the like. The griddle-bread is there in front of you. Colleen, what is the wonder in that book, That you must leave the bread to cool? Had I Or had my father read or written books There was no stocking stuffed with yellow guineas To come when I am dead to Shawn and you.

FATHER HART. You should not fill your head with foolish dreams. What are you reading?

MARY. How a Princess Edane, A daughter of a King of Ireland, heard A 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. Persuade the colleen to put down the book; My grandfather would mutter just such things, And he was no judge of a dog or a 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 with tears, Who flattered Edane's heart with merry words. My colleen, I have seen some other girls Restless and ill at ease, but years went by And they grew like their neighbours and were glad In minding children, working at the churn, And gossiping of weddings and of wakes; For life moves out of a red flare of dreams Into a common light of common hours, Until old age bring the red flare again.

MAURTEEN. That's true--but she's too young to know it's true.

BRIDGET. She's old enough to know that it is wrong To mope and idle.

MAURTEEN. I've little blame for her; She's dull when my big son is in the fields, And that and maybe this good woman's tongue Have driven her to hide among her dreams Like children from the dark under the bed-clothes.

BRIDGET. She'd never do a turn if I were silent.

MAURTEEN. And maybe it is natural upon May Eve To dream of the good people. But tell me, girl, If you've the branch of blessed quicken wood That women hang upon the post of the door That they may send good luck into the house? Remember they may steal new-married brides After the fall of twilight on May Eve, Or what old women mutter at the fire Is but a pack of lies.

FATHER HART. It may be truth We do not know the limit of those powers

The Land Of Heart's Desire - 1/5

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