This is the poem A dream, written by the Irish poet William Allingham.
About the poet
The life of the Irish poet William Allingham (1824 – 1889) is more than his poem The faeries. This is the poem, he is most famous for. But, he wrote more poems. He was also a gifted artist of water-colour paintings and illustrations.
Allingham was born on March 19 1824 in the Irish town of Ballyshannon. His father was a bank manager of English descent. During his childhood, he was confronted with death several times. His brother Edward died in 1831 (he was only a few months old). A few years later, another brother was declared dead after his mother gave birth. His mother died, when he was only nine years old.
In 1850, his work was published for the first time. This work, Poems, included the poem The faeries. This publication was followed by Day and night songs in 1855. The illustrations for this book are from the hand of no other than Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
After moving to London in 1870, he held different jobs as writer and editor. In London, he met the illustrator Helen Patterson. She was twenty-four years younger than he was. They got married in 1874. The couple moved to Witley (Surrey) together with their children. In 1888, his health started declining and the couple moved back to London. Allingham died on November 18 1889. After his death, the book Varieties in prose was published in 1893, followed by William Allingham a diary in 1907.
I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night;
I went to the window to see the sight;
All the Dead that ever I knew
Going one by one and two by two.
On they pass’d, and on they pass’d;
Townsfellows all, from first to last;
Born in the moonlight of the lane,
Quench’d in the heavy shadow again.
Schoolmates, marching as when they play’d
At soldiers once – but now more staid;
Those were the strangest sight to me
Who were drown’d, I knew, in the awful sea.
Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too;
Some that I loved, and gasp’d to speak to;
Some but a day in their churchyard bed;
Some that I had not known were dead.
A long, long crowd – where each seem’d lonely,
Yet of them all there was one, one only,
Raised a head or look’d my way;
She linger’d a moment – she might not stay.
How long since I saw that fair pale face!
Ah! Mother dear! might I only place
My head on thy breast, a moment to rest,
While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest!
On, on, a moving bridge they made
Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade,
Young and old, women and men;
Many long-forgot, but remembered then,
And first there came a bitter laughter;
A sound of tears a moment after;
And then a music so lofty and gay,
That eve morning, day by day,
I strive to recall it if I may.
— William Allingham