I Wish I Was By That Dim Lake

Melody - "I wish I was on yonder Hill"

Thomas Moore, from Irish Melodies, vol. 9

I wish I was by that dim Lake,*
Where sinful souls their farewell take
Of this vain world, and half-way lie
In death's cold shadow, ere they die.
There, there, far from thee,
Deceitful world, my home should be;
Where, come what might of gloom and pain,
False hope should n'er deceive again.
2. The lifeless sky, the mournful sound
Of unseen waters falling round;
The dry leaves, quivering o'er my head,
Like man, unquiet even when dead!
These, ay, these shall wean
My soul from life's deluding scene,
And turn each thought, o'ercharged with gloom
Like willows, downward towards the tomb.
3. As they, who to their couch at night
Would win repose, first quench the light,
So must the hopes, that keep this breast
Awake, be quench'd, ere it can rest.
Cold, cold, this heart must grow,
Unmmoved by either joy or woe,
Like freezing founts, where all that's thrown
Within their current turns to stone.

* These verses are meant to allude to that ancient haunt of superstition, called Patrick's Purgatory. "In the midst of these gloomy regions of Donegall (says Dr. Campbell) lay a lake, which was to become the mystic theatre of this fabled and intermediate state. In the lake were several islands, but one of them was dignified with that called the Mouth of Purgatory, which, during the dark ages, attracted the notice of all Christendom, and was t he resort of penitents and pilgrims from almost every country in Europe."

"It was," the same writer tells us, "one of the most dismal and dreary spots in the North, almost inaccessible, through deep glens and rugged mountains, frightful with impending rocks, and the hollow murmur of the western winds in dark caverns, peopled only with such fantastic beings as the mind, however gay, is, from strange association, wont to appropriate to such gloomy scenes." - Strictures on the Ecclestiatical and Literary History of Irela nd.

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