ADDRESS TO SLEMISH

All hail! oldSlemish! hail! we bow the knee,
We cry all hail! we cry to thee,
Behold us, pilgrims to thy rugged crest,
Footsore and weary leaning on thy breast.
Those heights so near, that to the distant view
Seem round in contour, and of azure hue,
Thy sturdy form small to remoter eyes,
Of huge proportions now and monstrous size.
Soars up, a mountain, by volcanoes made,
The pride and watchtower of the smiling Braid,
What can we say to thee, thou hast not heard
From cultured Buick, and Dunclug’s sweet bard,
From gifted Watts, and all the tuneful throng
Who’ve made thy praise the subject of their song.

Full many a mile beneath this sultry sun,
We’ve come to pay our devours to thy fame,
To climb the heights that Patrick often climbed,
To see the well that bears his sainted name;

And ask thee if the legend’s really true,
How once the Saint, to save a two-mile walk,
Stepped from thy crest to Skerry’s lesser height,
Graving his footprints in the solid rock.

Oft from the banks where glides the silvery Maine,
We’ve seen thee gleaming in the morning sun,
And like a sapphire in the clouds of even,
We’ve watched thee when our daily task was done.

Well we remember those two summer eves,
When Jubilee was held for Britain’s Queen,
How loyally thy topmost ledge upheld
The beacon fire above the lurid scene.

And when cold winter came, and dull and dark,
The earth seemed dead, and waiting for its shroud,
We turned each day to mark thy distant form,
And fleecy head dress all of curling cloud.

And knew, though veiled by intervening mists,
Though tempests roared, and storm fiends vexed the sky,
Thou stood’st gigantic, stately, and unmoved,
Stronger than all, and able to defy.

Then when young spring time came with clearer air,
Warm sun, bright skies, and gentle waters flow,
When all the plains had doffed their winter garb,
Thou still retained thy virgin robe of snow.

Like some fair maiden whose inviolate heart
Ne’er felt the glow of true love’s tender flame,
Or like some antique, hoary-headed sage,
Linking the past and present with his name.

So thou, old Slemish, thou art plainly seen
For many miles across both sea and land,
From Slieve-na-Nee’s truncated cone far north,
To where the Cave Hill guards the level strand.

And oft we’ve gazed from where its sculptured crags
O’erlook the harbour and the busy mart,
To where thy lonely height in Northern skies
Seemed like a symbol of our aching heart.

And thought that were a mirror, giant sized,
And rightly angled, placed upon thy crown,
Space would become, oh joy, a thing of naught,
And we could gaze upon our native town.

James Loughridge

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