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The Buchanan Ballads,
Old and New.

(London: John Haddon & Co., 1892.)



OF the poems which follow, a few are already familiar to the great public, while some are entirely new, and now published for the first time. Such pieces as the “Wake of O’Hara,” “Shon Maclean,” “Phil Blood’s Leap” and “Fra Giacomo” have long been used for purposes of public recitation.
     In the poem called “Hallelujah Jane” an attempt is made to do justice to the nobler side of the great social Crusade led by “General” Booth, a Crusade which, despite some disagreeable features and a barbarous terminology, has awakened the sleeping conscience of the world to the sufferings of countless human beings. I have gone to the life for my picture, and have omitted no detail on either sentimental or prudish grounds. In the Ode addressed to the Empress Victoria, and published originally in the Contemporary Review, no note of mere flattery was sounded, but occasion was taken to point out those blots which still disfigure our boasted civilization; so that, in one respect at least, the Ode had an unique purpose. The lines on “the Burial of Parnell” (supposed to be spoken by one of his personal followers) are without any sort of moral or political bias. The business of a poet is to utter the truth dramatically, and fearlessly as well as clearly; this I have tried to do, at the risk of any kind of misconstruction.
     I desire in these prefatory words to chronicle the courage and the generosity of the first man who, at a moment when the intellectual Scribes and Pharisees hung back, gave a practical answer to General Booth’s great Appeal, and I do so with the more pleasure because this man belongs to a profession with which Puritanism has never shown any sympathy. I know of no more large-minded conception of true philanthropy than that expressed, on the occasion in question, by Mr. S. B. BANCROFT, to whom, with all sincere respect, I dedicate these “Ballads.”
                                                                                                                           ROBERT BUCHANAN.
     Dec. 3, 1891.



“Storm In The Night” - an earlier version of the poem was included in The Earthquake (1885). Although the two versions share the same theme and form, there is no exact replication of lines. This later version was also included in The New Rome (1898) in the section titled ‘The Last Christians’.

‘The Ballad Of The Magdalen’ - a reworking of ‘Mary Magdalen’ from The City of Dream (1888), This later version was also included in The New Rome (1898) in the section titled ‘The Last Christians’.

‘“Hallelujah Jane”’ - reprinted in The New Rome (1898) in the section titled ‘The Last Christians’.

‘L’Envoi To The Preceding Poem’ - reprinted in The New Rome (1898).

‘The Good Professor’s Creed’ - reprinted in Volume 2 of the 1901 Poetical Works.




My creed, without circumlocution,
     I thus deliver clear and pat:
I do believe in Evolution,
     In Protoplasm, and all that!
I do believe in all the ’ologies,
     (Except The-ology, of course!)
But common, cocksure, Useful Knowledge is
     The compass which directs my course.

I don’t believe in God or Gammon,
     In powers above or priests below,
But I’ve some slight respect for Mammon
     As representing Status quô;
I hate all efforts revolutionary,
     All systems that subvert the State,
For Law is slow and evolutionary,
     And those low down have got—to wait!

Unless (that fact I should have stated!)
     Unless they’re led by Lights like me;
For Evolution, though ’tis fated,
     By gentle Force may further’d be:
In fact, I hold like my existence,
     Since nothing in the world is free,
That Force to which there’s no resistance
     Is always justified, per se!

I turn from all insipid dishes
     Cook’d by the fools of Laissez faire,
And much prefer the loaves and fishes,
     So long as I can get my share;
I think the Land is not the Nation’s,
     But those who grab’d it in the past;
Statutes, therefore, of limitations,
     Should make all Thieves secure, at last!

I don’t believe men free and equal
     (I think so? Feel my bumps, and tell!)
Of all such fads the sorry sequel
     Is anarchy and social Hell;
I do believe in “facts” prodigiously,
     Class, label, place them on the shelf,
I do believe (almost religiously!)
     In that most precious Fact, Myself!

I’m many-sided, many-coloured,
     Socialist, Individualist;
I do believe that man a dullard
     Who seeks philanthropies of mist;
I hold that General Booth’s tyrannical,
     And all his scheme of social aid
Is just Religion turn’d mechanical—
     A Barrel-organ badly played!

I think that Liberty’s a swindle!
     We look upon it with a smile—
I and my dear Professor Tyndall,
     The Peter Parleys of Carlyle!
He knew the “nigger” was a “servant”
     By law of God, or (what’s the same)
By laws proclaimed by prophets fervent
     Of Nature’s Tory end and aim!

I turn from every sect and schism,
     God and all gods I leave behind,
I sneer at even Positivism,
     Because it deifies Mankind:
Such creeds are either false or flighty,
     Since men are flesh and flesh is grass, . . .
And yet . . . one knowing God Almighty
   Regards me—from the looking-glass!

I do believe that Superstition,
     And what they call “the larger Hope,”
Have fled before the new condition
     Of self-reliance and of soap:
Free from the falsehoods of Divinity,
     Breaking the bonds by preachers spun,
I leave the old creed of the Trinity
     For the new creed of Number One!

Moral and physical diseases
     May be effaced in course of time,
But, left to do whate’er he pleases,
     Man leaps from folly into crime:
We’ve got to wash and comb and teach him,
     Learn him the laws of self-control,
Wean him from doctrinaires who teach him
     Rubbish about that gas, his Soul!

Be clean, be calm, be thrifty! These are
     My chief injunctions to the Poor,
Give Cćsar what belongs to Cćsar,
     Don’t even begrudge a little more!
Be very careful in your reading,
     Avoid imaginative stuff;
Study the rules of cattle-breeding,
     And when you pair, cry “quantum suff.”

To advance the human race I’m willing,
     So long as it is shrewdly done,
But never will I give one shilling
     To any “fad” beneath the sun;
While the worst fad of all is “Piety,”
     With all its cant of Heaven o’erhead,
Philanthropy’s a bad variety
     Of that same fad, when all is said!

And so I sit with calm pulsations,
     Watching the troubled human fry,
Examining their agitations
     With careful microscopic eye!
I, Thomas, Omnium Scrutator,
     Finding most creatures mean or base,
Despite your Hominum Salvator!
     Man’s duty is—to keep his place!



‘The Ballad Of Judas Iscariot’ - originally published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (February, 1872) and reprinted in the 1874 Poetical Works.

‘Nightingale-Song’ - an extract from ‘In The Garden’ (published in Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour, 1882), which is a revised version of ‘Erôs Athanatos’ which was originally published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (May, 1874).



DEEPER now our raptures grow,
Softlier let our voices croon!
Yet more slow
Let our happy music flow,
Sweet and slow, hush’d and low,
Now a dark cloud veils the Moon . . .
Sweet, O sweet!
Watch her while our wild hearts beat! . . .
See! she quits the clasping cloud,
Forth she sails on silvern feet,
Smiling, with her bright head bow’d!
Pour the living rapture loud!
Thick and fleet,
Sweet, O sweet!
Now the notes of rapture crowd!



‘Fra Giacomo’ - originally published in Temple Bar (February, 1866), reprinted in Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour, 1882.

‘Charmian’ - originally published in The Broadway (August, 1867), reprinted in the 1874 Poetical Works.

‘The Wake Of O’Hara’ - originally published as ‘The Wake Of Tim O’Hara’ in All The Year Round (July, 1869), reprinted in the 1874 Poetical Works and in the ‘London Poems (1866-70)’ section of the 1884 Poetical Works.

‘The Wedding Of Shon Maclean’ - originally published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1874), reprinted in Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour, 1882.

‘Phil Blood’s Leap’ - originally published (as ‘Phil Blood’s Leap: A Tale of the Gambusinos’) in The Saint Pauls Magazine, (February, 1872), reprinted in Ballads of Life, Love, and Humour, 1882.

‘The Golden Year’ - originally published as ‘Annus Aureolus: An Ode on the Jubilee of the Empress Victoria’ in The Contemporary Review (June, 1887).




               Now the winter of sorrow is over,
                   And the season of waiting is done,
               ’Mid acclaim of the people who love her
                   Our Lady steps forth in the sun;
The green earth beneath and the blue sky above her,
She walks in the sight of the millions who cover
               The realms she hath welded to one!
’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder,
As far as the sun round her empire doth wander,
From the east to the west wakes the world in her honour,
The sunrise and sunset flash splendour upon her,
               Now winter is over and done!

. . . Empress and Queen, the flowers and fruits of nations
         Are heapt upon the footstool of thy throne;
Amid the thronging hosts, the acclamations,
         The trumpets of thy Jubilee are blown!
Glorious and glad, with pomp and pride resplendent,
Thy subject Spirits come and wait attendant:
Tawny and proud, a queenly sibyl-maiden,
         Comes INDIA, clad in woofs of strange device,
With fruitage from the fabled Eastern Aiden,
         And gifts of precious gems and gold and spice;
On a white elephant she rides, while round her
         Like baying hounds her spotted tigers run—
Black-brow’d as night, to her who tamed and crown’d her
         She comes, with fiery eyes that front the sun.
AUSTRALIA follows, in a chariot golden
         Drawn by black heifers; on the chariot’s side
An ocean eagle sits with white wings folden,
         And o’er her head float egrets purple-dyed.                                      [2:18]
Tatoo’d TASMANIA, with wild ringlets flowing,
         Followed by savage herds and hinds, strides near.
CANADA comes mocassin’d, clearly blowing
         Her forest horn, and brandishing her spear.
ALBION in martial mail, with trident gleaming,
         Leads an old lion, and a lamb snow-white;
Blonde CALEDONIA, with glad tartan streaming
         Back from her shoulder, leaves her lonely height,
And with her mountain Sister, to the strumming
         Of harp and pipe, joins the rejoicing throng.
The world is shadow’d with the swarms still coming
         To hail their Queen with mirth and festal song!

               For the winter of sorrow is over,
                   And gone are the griefs that have been,
               ’Mid acclaim of the people who love her
                   She comes to her glory, a Queen.
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder
         As far as the sun round her empire doth wander,
         From the east to the west wakes the world in her honour,
         The sunrise and sunset flash splendour upon her,
                   Unclouded, at peace, and serene!

Yet . . . who is this that rises up before her,
         Ragged and hungry, blood upon her hands?
Smileless beneath the heavens now smiling o’er her,
         Wild grey-hair’d ERIN on her island stands!
Loudly she crieth, “Crownčd Queen and Mother,
         If such thou art, redress my children’s wrong;
Upraise the seed of Esau! Bid his brother
         Restore to him the birthright stol’n so long!
’Mid his fat flocks sits Jacob unrepenting,
         Yet starts with lifted wine-cup at my cry;
My children starve—my tribe is left lamenting—
         My dwellings lie unroof’d beneath the sky.
Even the mess of pottage gives he never,
         For which he bought the birthright long ago;
While joy in Jacob’s vineyard flows for ever,
         Esau preserves his heritage of woe!
Justice, O Queen, or—” For the rest she clutches
         Her naked knife, and laughs in shrill despair. . . .
O Queen and Empress, by the piteous touches
         Of Love’s anointing fingers, hear her prayer!
Let not thy Jubilee be stained, O Mother,
         By the old sin the sinful past hath known.
The wrongs this Esau suffers from his brother
         Are blood-stains on the brightness of thy throne!

               Now the winter of sorrow is ended,
                   And the season of waiting is fled,
               Let the blessing by all men attended
                   On Esau and Erin be shed!
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder
         As far as the sun round thine empire doth wander;
         But Esau roams outcast and homeless, O Mother,—
         At night on the rocks, near the tents of his brother,
                   The weary one pillows his head!

O bright and beauteous, Lady, is thy splendour,
         The waves of life leap round thee like a sea—
Smiling thou hearest, happy-eyed and tender,
         The silver clarions of thy Jubilee!
And yet . . . O God! what shrouded shapes of pity
         Are these who cry unto thee from afar?
Huddling beneath the gas, in the dark City,
         Hagar and Mary wail their evil star!
For Hagar still is hungry and forth-driven,
         And Magdalen still crawls from door to door,
Tho’ He who cast no stone, and promised Heaven,
         Bade her repent and go, and sin no more.
Long, long hath she repented, tho’ foul fetters
         Still bind her to the sin without a name;
And on the children’s breasts the crimson letters                                          [6:15]
         Tell to a cruel world the mother’s shame.
But thou, too, art a Mother, Queen appointed,
         And thou, too, hast thy children! Wherefore, heed
The crying of the lost one, who anointed
         Thy Master’s feet, and save her sinless seed.
Feed Hagar and her little ones, whose crying
         Pierces the heart of Pity to the core!
Find Magdalen, from shrine to shrine still flying,
         And say to him who stones her as of yore:
“The time hath come for justice in full measure,
         For him who shares the sin to share the stain;
No longer shall my triumph or my pleasure
         Be troubled by my broken sister’s pain!”
O Lady, such a word of vindication
         Shall value all thy splendour twentyfold;
Hagar’s new gladness, Magdalen’s salvation,
         Would be a brighter crown than that of gold!

               . . . For the season of waiting is over,
                   And the winter of sorrow is done,
               ’Mid acclaim of the people who love her
                   Our Lady steps forth in the sun.
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder
         As far as the sun round her empire doth wander,
         If the weary and outcast are weeping no longer,
         The wrong’d stands erect, at her feet kneels the wronger,
                   For the Golden Year has begun!

The Golden Year! How loudly and how gladly
         The trumpets of thy Jubilee are blown!
But . . . what is this that loometh out so sadly
         Yonder, behind the shining of thy throne?
Christ’s Tree? A cloud of blackness doth enfold it,
         Beneath it weeping shapes their wild arms toss—
Alas! the bright sun strikes, and we behold it—
         The Tree of Man’s Invention, not the Cross!
Blackest of blots upon thy throne pure golden
         Casts this foul growth of evil, with its root
Deep as the roots of Hell, this upas olden
         With blood for blossoms, flesh and blood for fruit!
And weeping angels of the empyrćan
         Look down in shame and sorrow from the sky,
While followers of the bloodless Galilean
         With impious rites lead deathless Cain to die!
While this Tree bears, O Queen, while earth is sooted
         With its black shadow, woe to thine and thee!
The air around thy throne shall be polluted,
         And Hell must laugh to hear thy Jubilee!

               By the hope and the faith thou dost cherish,
                   By summer now breaking serene,
               Let the Tree of man’s cruelty perish,
                   The Cross of man’s mercy be seen!
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder,
         As far as the sun round thine empire doth wander,
         But, long as these boughs of the upas are bearing,
         The sound of sad weeping, of bitter despairing,
                   Shall trouble thy glory, O Queen!

O merry music! Drums and fifes are sounding,
         Thy realm is resonant from sea to sea!
A million hearts are gladdening and bounding
         To the great glory of thy Jubilee!
Yet . . . who are these that thy proud throne environ,
         That, ring’d around by swords, with shout and laugh
Drag forth the monsters from whose mouths of iron
         The frail Sepoy was blown like bloodiest chaff?
Thy warriors? Thine? Not His who came proclaiming
         Love’s gospel, while earth’s Kings knelt down to hear?
O Queen, then Fire and Sword surround thee, shaming
         The peace and plenty of thy Golden Year?
O hearken! From the lonely desert places,
         From graves thy hosts have dug these latter years,
The cry of wailing tribes and wounded races
         Breaks on thy queendom with a sound of tears;
And while in cottages and princely towers
         Pale English widows weep and orphans moan,
Death comes to set his pallid funeral flowers
         And yew-trees round the footstool of thy throne!

               Yet gone are the seasons of sorrow
                   And winter hath vanish’d (men say)!
               Shall Famine and Fire come to-morrow
                   And add to the graves of to-day?
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder,
         As far as the sun round thine empire doth wander,
         Yet Cain rears his altar and slays his frail brother,
         And men who should cherish and love one another
                   Go smiling to torture and slay!

Listen, O Empress, to the tearful voices
         That pierce above the thunder of thy State!
Beyond the throng that gladdens and rejoices
         The flocks of human martyrs weep and wait.
They know thee great and good, O Queen and Mother,
         They hunger for the blessing of thy hand;
But Jacob in his pride forgets his brother,
         And Hagar wanders famish’d thro’ the land.
Grasping thine Aaron’s rod with gentle fingers,
         Touch hearts of stone until the fountains start,
Shed summer on the isle where winter lingers,
         Fill the black void in Erin’s aching heart!
Rebuke thy legions! Bid them crouch before thee,
         Nor lusting still for conquest draw the sword!
Let doves, not battle-ravens, hover o’er thee,
         And Christ, not Moloch, deck thy festal board!
For all this pomp and pride turn black and bitter
         If women weep and mourners wail their dead,
The blessing of the sorrowful were fitter
         To crown thee than the crown upon thy head!
O hearken yet, this year of years, O Mother,
         Proclaim sweet peace from every heaven-lit hill,
Let Justice be thy handmaid, and no other,
         And say to all things evil, “Cease, be still!”

               O then shall all sorrow be over,
                   And then indeed winter be done,
               ’Mid acclaim of the people who love her
                   Our Lady shall walk in the sun!
         The green earth beneath and the blue sky above her,
         Her smile shall shed peace on the millions who cover
                   The realms she hath welded to one.
         ’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder
         As far as the sun round her empire doth wander,
         But Jubilee brighter shall come with to-morrow,
         With the end of all strife and surcease of all sorrow,
                   When the night-tide of evil is done!



         LADY, God lends a torch to light
               Thy path to peace transcending dreams.
         Uphold it! See, from height to height,
         Across the day, across the night,
               Its splendour streams!
         God gave the realm, God gives the Light—
               How sweet, how bright,
                   It beams!

         That torch is LOVE, whose lucent ray
               Slays all things cruel and unclean!
         No shadow clouds it night or day,
         While sun and moon keep equal sway,
               Calm and serene.
         God gives this torch with heaven-fed ray
               To light thy way,
                   O Queen!

         Let this thy guide and sceptre be,
               And power and peace may still be thine,
         All mortal men shall bend the knee,
         All men revere, in thine and thee,
               The Law Divine.
         Blest shall thy mighty Empire be,
         While o’er the world, from sea to sea,
         The sunlight of thy Jubilee
                   Shall shine!


Alterations from the original version in The Contemporary Review:
v. 2, l. 18: And o’er her head float wild-fowl purple-dyed.
v. 6, l. 15: And on the children’s hearts the crimson letters ]



‘“Annie”’ - reprinted in The New Rome (1898) in the section titled ‘The Last Christians’.

‘L’Envoi To The Preceding Poem’ - reprinted in The New Rome (1898).

‘Pherson’s Wooing’ - this appears to be the first (and last) publication of this poem.




     NOTE.—In this Homeric ballad of modern marriage by capture in the Scottish Highlands, several customs are described which are not even yet altogether extinct,—for example, the old Highland custom of midnight courtship in the lady’s chamber, described in Pherson’s relation of his nocturnal visits to Meg Nicraonail. For the rest, I myself have personal knowledge of a rape of the kind celebrated in the poem. The results, however, were unfortunate, for although the bold lover succeeded in bearing the bride the prescribed distance from her father’s door, he eventually died of the injuries inflicted by her kinsmen.                                                                                                           R. B.


(Tune up, Pipers!)

     WITH red, unshear’d
     Fiery eyes by foemen fear’d,
     Form gigantic famed in story,
     Standing on the bleak and wide
     Mountain side,
     Neil Macpherson of Tobermory.

(Foot and elbow, now, together!)

“Pherson is my name!” (the throngs
     Shriek’d in approbation)
“Tuncan Pherson of the Songs
     Wass my blood-relation!
Many a Pherson great and small
     Has been counted clever,
And the Phersons, one and all,
     Are goot men, whatever!
Yonder up the heathery strath
     Dwells sweet Meg Nicraonail,*

* NOTE.—Pronounce Nicronnell. MacRaonail, in Gaelic, the son of Raonail; NicRaonail, the daughter of Raonail.

Fairest lassie from Cape Wrath
     Southward to Strath Connell;
Breastit like the swan so light,
     Lintwhite-lockit Meg is,
Eyes like stars, and limbs as white
     As a pullet’s egg is!
Many a day, ochone a rie,
     I have woo’t this person,
On my naked bended knee
Pray’d and pleaded she would be
     Bride and wife of Pherson.
Sirs, she longs to be my bride,
     Does this dainty leddy,
But her kinsmen, tamn their pride!
Say the knot shall ne’er be tied
     Tho’ herself is ready!
Shall I bear their scoff and scorn,
     Leave her and forsake her?
Or, between the mirk and morn,
     Mother-naked take her?
I have call’d you here to speak—
     Speak, then, now or never!”
Loud as thunder rose the shriek:
     “Take her, Neil, whatever!”


Tall, gigantic,
Fierce and frantic,
     Tossing down his bonnet.
Gray Shon Alastair MacCall
Cried, “We’re with you, one and all,—
     There’s my fist upon it!
Send the message town the glen,
Gather all your fighting men,
     Lads of kilt and plaidie,
Teach the Raonails (tamn their clan!) 
How to treat a shentleman
     When he coorts a leddy!”

(Step tune, cannily!)

By the waters of the Shiel
     To the ocean booming,
Braes of heather ’neath their heel,
Hills of heather stiff to speel *
     Up behind them looming,
Gather’d Pherson’s friends and kin,
     Men of thew and sinew,
Crying, “’Tis yoursel’ shall win!
Put some whiskey in your skin!
     Show the stuff that’s in you!”
Up along the lonely pass,
     By the torrent’s water,
Stood the dwelling of the lass,
     Shon Macraonail’s daughter;
And the Raonails from afar
     Saw with trepidation
(Knowing it portended war)
     Pherson’s preparation.

(Pipers, still cannily!)

There’s a Highland law, as old
     As the great MacMoses,
Says—if any wooer bold
Dares, when flocks are in the fold,
     And the house reposes,
In his arms a maid to seize
     Spite her kin’s prevention
(Duly notifying these,
     First, of his intention),

     * Climb.

He the lassie shall possess,
     After due persistence,—
But his failure or success
     Shall be judged by distance:
If beyond her father’s door
Full five hundred yards or more
     He his prize can carry,
Spite of stones and spite of blows,
Cracking crown or bloody nose,
     He the maid may marry!
Nay, her kinsmen, when ’tis done,
     Shall admit politely
That the bride is fairly won,
     Ta’en and captured rightly;
Casting hate and strife away,
     All, with smiling faces,
Shall ’mid floods of usquebae *
     Bless that pair’s embraces!

That’s the custom! but it needs
     One of resolution,
Train’d in strength of doughty deeds,
     For its execution!
Such was Pherson! such were those
     Thronging round the giant!
Tiptoe, like the cock that crows
Battle-challenge to his foes,
     Stood red Neil, defiant!
“Long the lass has let me woo
     In the Hieland fashion—
[Och, she is a dainty doo, †
     Full of tender passion!]
Many a night outside her bed

     * Mountain dew, or whiskey.           † Dove.

I my shaggy limbs have spread,
     When no een have seen us,
Underneath the blankets she,
Keekmg out and kissing me,
     But—the claise between us!
While her folk were snoring sound,
Fondly clasping arms around
     This most charming person,
I of kisses took my fill;
But a kiss, sirs, cannot still
     Love in Neil Macpherson!
I will seize her, by my saul,
     And resign her never!”
Loud as thunder rose the call
From the throats of one and all,
     “Take her, Neil, whatever!”

(Reel time, Pipers!)

Down Strathconnell ran the cry
     Ringing out a warning:
“Neil the Pherson means to try
Theft and capture, tho’ he die,
     ’Twixt the mirk and morning!”
Thick as bees round honied bykes
     Clansmen ring’d the lady,—
“Let him come as soon’s he likes!
     Gott, he’ll find us ready!”
Round the fire their cups they drained,
     Arm’d and breathing slaughter,
While the sun with crimson stained
     Mountain, moor, and water.
Trembling in the inner room
     Lay the longing Maiden,
Blushing like a rose in bloom,
     Listening terror-laden . . .
Pass’d the dusky Eventide,
     Stars above grew thicker,
Faster round the ingleside
     Went the fiery liquor!
Crouching on their cutty seats *
     Dame and granddame listened,
While as red as flaming peats
     Angry faces glisten’d.
“Tamn the Pherson and his kin!
     Aal his sheneration!
If he dares to enter in,
     There’ll be potheration!”
Lying in the inner room
     Meg could hear them screaming,
Smell the fiery whiskey-fume
     From the circle steaming!

(Now softly, Pipers!)

Darker, stiller grew the night,
     Hour by hour departed,—
Laughing louder in delight
Raonail’s kinsmen arm’d for fight
     Grew more valiant-hearted.
“Tamn the Pherson! In his bed
     Full of fear he’s lying!
Deil a step this way he’ll tread!”
     Meg could hear them crying . . .
Fainter soon the revel rung,
     Sleepy eyes were closing,
One by one the clansmen hung
     Heavy noddles, dozing . . .
Meg arose, and at the door,
     In her sark, † half-frozen,
Listen’d! Silence! Then a snore!
     Then an answering dozen!

     * Low stools.         † Nightgown.

Then her lighted lamp she took,
     Full of trepidation,
Set it in her window-nook—
     Signal for invasion!
[Even so sweet Hero gave
     Warning to her wooer,
Guiding him across the wave
     Mother-naked to her!]
Back to bed the maiden flies,
     List’ning (sly young person!)
Till, like lightning from the skies,
On the clansmen’s sleepy eyes
     Breaks the form of Pherson!!

(Skirl, Pipers, Skirl!)

Up they sprang and sought their brands,
     Near them idly lying,
Through their ranks with mighty hands
     Pherson now was flying.
Soon he reach’d the chamber dark,
Seized the lassie in her sark;
     Loud she shriek’d (but kissed him!)
Bore her crying to the door,
Faced the frantic clan, once more
     Ready to resist him!
As a torrent tears amain
     Over rocks and boulders,
While the blows fell down like rain
     On his sinewy shoulders,
Neil the Pherson all alone
     Swept thro’ men and women—
Thick as ninepins overthrown
     Fell the kilted foemen!
Bleeding wounds upon his brow,
     Blood his features staining,
On he bears the prize, and—wow!
     He the door is gaining!
After him the Raonails stream,
     Striking, cursing, chasing,—
Maggie still pretends to scream,
     His strong neck embracing!
Out into the night he flies,
     Panting, struggling, springing,
Bearing off the bonnie prize,
     Kissing, cuddling, clinging!
Warm’d by kisses such as those
     From Macraonail’s daughter,
Heedless of the raining blows,
Pherson, followed by his foes,
     Nears the running water!
There, five hundred yards and more
From Macraonail’s open door,
     Pherson’s friends are glaring—
Wild their “hooch!” to heaven rings,
As the riever thither springs,
     His white burthen bearing.
Swift into the nut-brown stream,
     Round his middle gushing,
Strides he, while with angry scream
     Come the Raonails rushing!
Raonails now on Phersons clash,
     Shrieking and opposing!
Spluttersmash and splatterdash!
In the shallow pools they splash,
     Like two wrestlers closing!
Long they fight and twist and turn,
     But the race is over—
Side by side beyond the burn
     Sit the lass and lover! (Hooch!)
Pherson, wounded from the fray,
Wiping clots of blood away,
     Laughing, takes his plaidie,
Wraps it like a blanket warm
Round the dripping, drooping form
     Of his dainty lady.
Mouth to mouth and breast to breast
     Now they cling in passion,
Pherson’s very soul is blest
     Past anticipation—
Then with crow of joy and pride
     He his prize upraises,
Bears her down the mountain side,
While the Dawning sleepy-eyed
     O’er the hill-tops gazes!

(Slow time, toe and heel, softly, softly!)

So Macraonail’s child was won
     By the law of thieving!
So the doughty deed was done
By the Pherson, Pherson’s son,
     Valiant past believing!
That day week the feast was spread
     When the sun sank rosy;
While the holy rites were said,
Lasses on the bridal bed
     Spread the blankets (cosy!)
Thronging in the Raonails ran,
     With good whiskey laden— 
“Pherson, you’re a shentleman,
     And deserfe the maiden!”
Of the mighty midnight fray
     Each betrayed some token—
Here a lug * clean sliced away,
     There a strong arm broken;
One came hirpling † on a staff,
     Smiling at disaster,
T’other’s nose, cut clean in half,
     Clung to sticking plaster!

     * Ear.          † Limping. 

But the Phersons with the same
     Battle-signs were sprinkled—
Some were bandaged, most were lame;
Of MacCall’s two eyes of flame
     Only one now twinkled!
With a patch on either eye,
     Features stain’d with slaughter,
Pherson sat triumphant, by
     Raonail’s dainty daughter . . .
While they gather in accord
Ranging round the festal board
     Broken heads and noses,
Grim Shon Alastair MacCall,
Patch’d and broken from the brawl,
     Pherson’s health proposes:
“Here’s the Pherson and his clan!
Sirs, he iss the lad who can
     Gife and take a threshing!
Health to all who fought that night!
By my saul, it was a fight
     Pleasant and refreshing!”
Hand grips hand, and all around
     Smile with plaster’d faces,
Pipers play, and at the sound,
While the kilted dancers bound,
     Neil his bride embraces.
“Pherson is my name!” he cries,
     “Noble is my clan, sirs!
Tamn the rascal who denies
     I’m a shentleman, sirs!”
“Pherson! Pherson!” rings the call
From the throats of great and small,
     “Hooch, but he is clever!”
“Here’s to Pherson and the wife!”
“Take her, Pherson—all her life
     She is yours, whatever!”



‘The Ballad Of Magellan’ - originally published as ‘The Voyage of Magellan’ in The Boston Herald (26 April, 1885), reprinted in The Earthquake, 1885.

‘The Burial Of Parnell’ - originally published in The Echo (12th October, 1891), ‘The Burial of Parnell’ was also issued as a broadside in Dublin.




We come to bury Cćsar, not to praise him.”'



WE come to bury Cćsar, not
     To praise him!—yet our eyes
Grow dim above the holy spot
     Where our dead Monarch lies;
The hungry millions, weeping too,
     Mourn their lost Lord and Friend,
While here we stand, the faithful few
  Who loved him till the end!



Cćsar lies dead!—yea, Cćsar! Tho’
     His brows were never crown’d,
He reigned, until the assassin’s blow
     First struck him to the ground;
He walk’d imperial in command,
     While angry factions raved—
Sad Cćsar of the woeful Land
     Which he redeemed and saved!



Cćsar is dead!—no golden throne
     Or purple robes sought he,
But led, in darkness and alone,
     Legions that would be free;
His armies were the famish’d throng
     That rose and march’d by night,
A living Host that swept along
     To some great Land of Light!



The dim Light grows, the Dawn is nigh!
     But he who led us on,
Who held the fiery Cross on high
     Thro’ the long night, is gone!
Full at his heart the cowards smote
     With many a trait’rous thrust,
While Falsehood fasten’d on his throat
     And dragg’d him to the dust! . . .



Ev’n as a Lion fixing eyes
     On something far away,
He stood alone ’neath sunless skies
     On his great triumph-day;
Then, while he march’d the battle-place,
     His jackals gather’d in . . .
And now? The things which fear’d his face
     Fight for the Lion’s skin!



What one of these shall put it on?
     Thou, weakest of the weak,
Who, when thy Lord lay woe-begone,
     First kiss’d, then smote, his cheek?
Or thou, who mock’d him in his fall
     With foul and impious jest?
Or thou, the basest of them all,
     Who gnaw’d the bleeding breast?



Jackals and cowards, mourn elsewhere!
     Not near the mighty Dead!
Your breath pollutes the holy air
     Around a Martyr’s bed.
Go! fatten with the Scribes and Priests
     Who led your foul array,
Or crouch, with all the timorous beasts
     Who follow’d him for prey!



Who slew this Man? The cruel Foe
     That stab’d our Erin first;
Then Brutus, loth to strike the blow;
     Then Casca, the accurst;
Then freedmen by his hands unbound,
     And slaves his hands had fed,
Joining the throng that ring’d him round,
     Stoned him till he was dead!



Lo, where the English Brutus stands,
     With white and reverend hair,
Bloodstains upon the wrinkled hands
     He calmly folds in prayer;
Facing all ways beneath the sky,
     Strong still, tho’ worn and wan,
This Brutus is (so all men cry)
     “An honourable man”!



Casca and Cassius haggard-eyed,
     Their gaze on Brutus’ face,
Say, “Surely Cćsar had not died
     If thou had given him grace!”
O thrice-bound Freeman, in whose name
     They proved this dead Man base,
Still keep from unbelief and shame
     Thy Marriage Market-place!



There, where the White Slave, Woman, stands,
     Wearing her gyves of gold,
Soothe with the ointment of the creeds
     The body ere ’tis sold;
Preach the high Law of Purity,
     Find out all stains and slurs,
And keep the great Slave-market free
     To righteous purchasers!



But, Brutus, thou who conjurest
     In Freedom’s sacred name,
Back from this grave, mar not this rest,
     Breathe not this Martyr’s name!
Priests on thy left hand and thy right
     Stand up and prate of God,
While he thou didst betray and smite
     Lies dead beneath the sod!



Still, where thou standest, bending o’er
     Thy head, and blessing thee,
Broods the pale Babylonian Whore
     They name “Morality”:
Making a noble spirit blind
     With her polluting breath,
She found the means Hate could not find,
     And plann’d the deed of Death!



Who slew this man? Thou, Christian Land,
     Who sendest o’er the foam
Mammon and Murther hand in hand
     To shame the Christ at home!
The Christ? His painted Image, nurst
     By knaves who cast on men
The curse of Priestcraft—last and worst,
     The Priestcraft of the Pen!



Not till our King lay bleeding there,
     Crept forth with cruel eyne
The venom’d things which make their lair
     Beneath the Seven-Hill’d Shrine:
Then, in the name of him they priced,
     Degraded, and betrayed,
They poisoned, these false priests of Christ,
     The wounds a Judas made!



We come to bury, not to praise
     Our Cćsar—yet his knell
Joins with the cry of wrath we raise
     ’Gainst those thro’ whom he fell!
While Freemen pass from hand to hand
     The Fiery Cross he waved,
His fame shall lighten thro’ the Land
     Which he redeemed and saved!



‘Tom Dunstan; or, The Politician’ - from the 1874 Poetical Works, reprinted in the ‘London Poems (1866-70)’ section of the 1884 Poetical Works. This is a slightly different version.



How long, O Lord, how long?



NOW poor Tom Dunstan’s cold,
     All life’s grown duller;     
There’s a blight on young and old,
And our talk has lost its bold  
     Red-republican colour!
Poor Tom was crippled and thin,
     But Lord, if you’d seen his face,
When, sick of the country’s sin,
With bang of the fist, and chin
     Stuck out, he argued the case!
He prophesied men should be free!
     And the money-bags be bled!
“She’s coming, she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
     Freedom’s ahead!”



Cross-leg’d on the board we sat,
     Like spiders spinning,
Stitching and sweating, while fat
Old Moses, with eyes like a cat,
     Sat greasily grinning;
And here Tom said his say,
     And prophesied Tyranny’s death;
And the tallow burned all day,
And we stitch’d and stitch’d away
     In the thick smoke of our breath.
Poor worn-out slops were we,
     With hearts as heavy as lead;
But “Patience! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
     Freedom’s ahead!”



And at night, when we took here
     The rest allowed to us,
The Paper came, with the beer,
And Tom read, sharp and clear,
     The news out loud to us;
Then, warm with the “half and half,”
     He’d go it, hammer and claws!
And Lord, how we used to laugh
To hear him smother with chaff
     The Snobs who make the laws!
And it made us breathe more free
     To hearken to what he said—
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
     Freedom’s ahead!”



But grim Jack Hart, with a sneer,
     Would mutter, “Master!
If Freedom means to appear,
I think she might step here
     A little faster!”
Then, ’twas fine to see Tom flame,
     And argue, and prove, and preach,
Till Jack was silent for shame,—
Or a fit of coughing came
     O’ sudden, to spoil Tom’s speech.
Ah! Tom had the eyes to see
     When the tyrants would be sped:
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
     Freedom’s ahead!”



But Tom was little and weak,
     The hard hours shook him;
Hollower grew his cheek,
And when he began to speak
     The coughing took him.
And at last the cheery sound
     Of his voice among us ceased,
And we made a purse, all round,
     That he mightn’t starve, at least.
His pain was awful to see,
     Yet there, on his poor sick-bed,
“She’s coming, in spite of me!
Courage, and wait!” cried he;
     “Freedom’s ahead!”



A little before he died,
     To see his passion!
“Bring me a Paper!” he cried,
And then to study it tried,
     In his old sharp fashion;
And, with eyeballs glittering,
     His look on me he bent,
And said that savage thing
     Of the Lords o’ the Parliament.
Then, dying, smiling on me,
     “What matter if one be dead?
She s coming at last!” said he;
“Courage boy! wait and see;
     Freedom’s ahead!”



Ay, now Tom Dunstan’s cold,
     All life seems duller;
There’s a blight on young and old,
And our talk has lost the bold
     Red-republican colour.
But we see a figure gray,
     And we hear a voice of death,
And the tallow burns all day,
And we stitch and stitch away
     In the thick smoke of our breath;
Ay, while in the dark sit we,
     Tom seems to call from the dead—
“She’s coming! she’s coming!” says he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
     Freedom’s ahead!”


How long, O Lord! how long
     Must thy Handmaid linger
She who shall right the wrong,
Make the poor sufferer strong?
     Sweet morrow, bring her!
Hasten her over the sea,
     O Lord! ere Hope be fled!
Send her to make men free! . . .
O Slave, pray still on thy knee,
     “FREEDOM’s ahead!



‘L’Envoi’ - this is a reworking of ‘L’Envoi to London Poems’ which was published at the end of the ‘London Poems’ section in the 1884 Poetical Works.



I do not sing for Maidens. They are roses
     Blowing along the pathway I pursue:
No sweeter things the wondrous world discloses,
     And they are tender as the morning dew.
Blessed be maids and children: day and night
Their holy scent is with me as I write.

I do not sing for Schoolboys or Schoolmen.
     To give them ease I have no languid theme,
When, weary with the wear of book and pen,
     They seek their trim poetic Academe;
Nor can I sing them amorous ditties, bred
Of too much Ovid on an empty head.

I do not sing aloud in measured tone
     Of those fair paths the easy-soul’d pursue;
Nor do I sing for Lazarus alone,
     I sing for Dives, and the Devil too.
Ah! would the feeble songs I sing might swell 
As high as Heaven, and as deep as Hell!

I sing of the stain’d outcast at Love’s feet,—
     Love with his wild eyes on the evening light;
I sing of sad lives trampled down like wheat
     Under the heel of Lust, in Love’s despite;
I glean behind those wretched shapes ye see
In the cold harvest-fields of Infamy.

I sing of death-beds (let no man rejoice
     Till that last piteous touch of all is given!);
I sing of Death and Life with equal voice,
     Heaven watching Hell, and Hell illumed by Heaven.
I have gone deep, far down the infernal stair—
And seen the heirs of Heaven arising there!

I sing of Hope, that all the lost may hear;
     I sing of Light, that all may feel its ray;
I sing of Souls, that no one Soul may fear; 
     I sing of God, that some perchance may pray.
Angels in hosts have praised Him loud and long,
But Man’s shall be the last triumphal Song. 

Oh, hush a space the sounds of voices light
     Mix’d to the music of a lover’s lute.
Stranger than dream, so luminously bright,
     Eyes shall be dazzled and the mouth be mute, 
Man shall arise, Lord of all things that be,
Last of the gods, and Heir of all things free!



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