Joseph Brenan was a writer and poet from Cork. He was involved in the Young Irelanders movement in the mid-19th century.
He was imprisoned for his part in the Young Irelander’s Rebellion in 1848.
He wrote much of his poetry in prison – this is a love letter to his sweetheart Mary Savage.
Come to me, Dearest
Come to me, dearest, I’m lonely without thee,
Daytime and night-time, I’m thinking about thee;
Night-time and daytime, in dreams I behold thee;
Unwelcome the waking which ceases to fold thee.
Come to me, darling, my sorrows to lighten,
Come in thy beauty to bless and to brighten;
Come in thy womanhood, meekly and lowly,
Come in thy lovingness, queenly and holy.
Swallows will flit round the desolate ruin,
Telling of spring and its joyous renewing;
And thoughts of thy love, and its manifold treasure,
Are circling my heart with a promise of pleasure.
O Spring of my spirit, O May of my bosom,
Shine out on my soul, till it bourgeon and blossom;
The waste of my life has a rose-root within it,
And thy fondness alone to the sunshine can win it.
Figure that moves like a song through the even;
Features lit up by a reflex of heaven;
Eyes like the skies of poor Erin, our mother,
Where shadow and sunshine are chasing each other;
Smiles coming seldom, but childlike and simple,
Planting in each rosy cheek a sweet dimple;
O, thanks to the Saviour, that even thy seeming
Is left to the exile to brighten his dreaming.
You have been glad when you knew I was gladdened;
Dear, are you sad now to hear I am saddened?
Our hearts ever answer in tune and in time, love,
As octave to octave, and rhyme unto rhyme, love:
I cannot weep but your tears will be flowing,
You cannot smile but my cheek will be glowing;
I would not die without you at my side, love,
You will not linger when I shall have died, love.
Come to me, dear, ere I die of my sorrow,
Rise on my gloom like the sun of to-morrow;
Strong, swift, and fond as the words which I speak, love,
With a song on your lip and a smile on your cheek, love.
Come, for my heart in your absence is weary,
Haste, for my spirit is sickened and dreary,
Come to the arms which alone should caress thee,
Come to the heart that is throbbing to press thee!
All images copyright Ireland Calling
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