Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Cailleach Bein-Y-Vreich

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

John Campbell Shairp 1819–85

Cailleach Bein-Y-Vreich

WEIRD wife of Bein-y-Vreich! horo! horo!

Aloft in the mist she dwells;

Vreich horo! Vreich horo! Vreich horo!

All alone by the lofty wells.

Weird, weird wife! with the long gray locks,

She follows her fleet-foot stags,

Noisily moving through splinter’d rocks,

And crashing the grisly crags.

Tall wife, with the long gray hose! in haste

The rough stony beach she walks;

But dulse or seaweed she will not taste,

Nor yet the greetn kail stalks.

And I will not let my herds of deer,

My bonny red deer go down;

I will not let them down to the shore,

To feed on the sea-shells brown.

Oh, better they love in the corrie’s recess,

Or on mountain top to dwell,

And feed by my side on the green, green cress,

That grows by the lofty well.

Broad Bein-y-Vreich is grisly and drear,

But wherever my feet have been

The well-springs start for my darling deer,

And the grass grown tender and green.

And there high up on the calm nights clear,

Beside the lofty spring,

They come to my call, and I milk them there,

And a weird wild song I sing.

But when hunter men round my dun deer prowl,

I will not let them nigh;

Through the rended cloud I cast one scowl,

They faint on the heath and die.

And when the north wind o’er the desert bare

Drives loud, to the corries below

I drive my herds down, and bield them there

From the drifts of the blinding snow.

Then I mount the blast, and we ride full fast,

And laugh as we stride the storm,

I, and the witch of the Cruachan Ben,

And the scowling-eyed Seul-Gorm.