A treasury of war poetry, British and American poems of the world war, 1914-1919/Ireland

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
A treasury of war poetry, ... 1914-1919
Part 3, Ireland

IRELAND



MOIRA'S KEENING

O MOUNTAINS of Erin,
Your beauty is fled;
Beyond you, in Flanders,
My darling lies dead.


Through the dunes and the grasses
Bespattered with blood,
They bore him; and round him,
Bareheaded, they stood,


While the chaplain in khaki
Was reading a prayer,
And the wind for his keening
Was moaning an air.


O son of grey Connaught,
No more shall we stand
By the dark lough at evening,
My hand in your hand,


And talk of a houseen
To hold you and me,
The scent of the heather,
The gorse on the lea.


Yet, bridegroom of mine,
You are waiting afar,
Past the peak and the blueness,
The shine of yon star,


Where Mary the Mother
Is bending her head,
And you sleep at her crooning,
O boy of mine! dead.


THE CONNAUGHT RANGERS

I SAW the Connaught Rangers when they were passing by,
On a spring day, a good day, with gold rifts in the sky.
Themselves were marching steadily along the Liffey quay
An' I see the young proud look of them as if it was to-day!
The bright lads, the right lads, I have them in my mind,
With the green flags on their bayonets all fluttering in the wind!


A last look at old Ireland, a last good-bye maybe,
Then the gray sea, the wide sea, my grief upon the sea!
And when will they come home, says I, when will they see once more
The dear blue hills of Wicklow and Wexford's dim gray shore?
The brave lads of Ireland, no better lads you'll find,
With the green flags on their bayonets all fluttering in the wind!


Three years have passed since that spring day, sad years for them and me.
Green graves there are in Serbia and in Gallipoli.
And many who went by that day along the muddy street
Will never hear the roadway ring to their triumphant feet.
But when they march before Him, God's welcome will be kind,
And the green flags on their bayonets will flutter in the wind.


A SONG OF THE IRISH ARMIES

A WIND blew out of the Prussian plain;
It scourged Liège, and it broke Louvain,
And Belgium shook with the tramp of Cain,
That a Kaiser might be mad.
"Iron is God!"—and they served him well—
"Honour a mark for shot and shell."
So they loosed the devils out of Hell
From Birr to Allahabad.


 The Old Soldiers sing:

But we took them from Mons to the banks of the Marne,
And helped them back on their red return;
We can swim the Rhine if the bridges burn,
And Mike O'Leary's the lad!
Not for this did our fathers fall:
That truth, and pity, and love, and all
Should break in the dust at a trumpet's call,
Yea! all things clean and old.
Not to this had we sacrificed:
To sit at last where the slayers diced,
With blood-hot hands, for the robes of Christ,
And snatch at the Devil's gold.


 The New Soldiers sing:

To Odin's challenge we cried Amen!
We stayed the plough, and laid by the pen,
And we shouldered our guns like gentlemen,
That the wiser weak should hold.


Blood on the land, and blood on the sea!
So it stands as ordained to be,
Stamp, and signet, and guarantee
Of the better ways we knew.


Time for the plough when the sword has won;
The loom will wait on the crashing gun,
And the hands of peace drop benison
When the task of death is through.


 Old and New Soldiers sing:

Then lift the flag of the Last Crusade!
And fill the ranks of the Last Brigade!
March on to the fields where the world's re-made,
And the Ancient Dreams come true!