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Title: A happy New Year, and other verses
Author: Beresford, C. E. de la Poer
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           A HAPPY NEW YEAR

                           AND OTHER VERSES



                           A Happy New Year
                           AND OTHER VERSES

                                  BY
                      C. E. DE LA POER BERESFORD

                             ETON COLLEGE
                       SPOTTISWOODE & CO., LTD.
                                 1913


                            TO MY DEAR WIFE

OLD PLACE, 1913

     _My thanks are due to the Editors, “Blackwood’s Magazine,” “Country
     Life,” “The Londonderry Sentinel,” for their kindness in allowing
     me to reprint verses that have appeared in their publications._



Contents


                                                                    PAGE

A Happy New Year                                                       1

Cradle Song                                                            2

Queen Tamar’s Castle                                                   3

Ulster’s Prayer                                                        4

Dark Donegal                                                           5

Hy-Brasail                                                             7

Bálor of the Great Blows                                               9

The Garden                                                            11

A Song of Spring                                                      12

The Miráge on Kizil Koom                                              13

A Dream of Samarkánd                                                  15

At Santa Sophia, Constantinople                                       21

The Hill Cities                                                       22

Florence from San Miniato                                             23

The Thames                                                            24

In Te, Domine, spero                                                  26

To Miss X. de C. on her Birthday                                      27

Londonderry City Election, 1885                                       28

Londonderry City Election, 1913                                       29

To M. S.                                                              30

The Song of Timùr the Lame                                            31

Catullus, Carmina xxxi., l. 12 to end                                 32

Catullus, Carmina lxxvi. (Si qua recordanti)                          33

The Fisherman’s Dream                                                 34

The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Pieters’, February, 1900          36

Senlac                                                                39

Christmas-tide                                                        46



A Happy New Year.


    To the young, to the brave and the strong,
    Before whom the future outspreads
    As a board all light-handed to sweep,
    The unknown, and the right and the wrong,
          A Happy New Year!

    To the good, to the tender and true,
    Who have stood by our side on the path
    Of life’s follies and troubles and cares,
    The path that we all must pursue,
          A Happy New Year!

    For the old, for the frail and the weak,
    To whom mem’ry calls up in a dream
    The never attained _might have been_,
    We with love and affection bespeak
          A Happy New Year!



Cradle Song.

(_Imitated from the Russian._)


    Sleep! Babyónka,[A] sleep!
    By thy side Bábochka[B] watches.
    Round the house the wind blows high,
    Soars the eagle in the sky,
    Hark, I hear the woodcock cry.
    Sleep, my darling, sleep!
    O’er thy slumbers Saints are watching.

    Sleep! Babyónka, sleep!
    Bábochka will rock thy cradle.
    Wind that rushes through the trees,
    Eagle soaring o’er the breeze,
    Woodcock whistling in the reeds,[C]
    Bring my darling sleep!
    Babyónka dear, the Saints are watching.

    Sleep! my darling, sleep!
    Bábochka Babyónka watches.
    Wind and eagle, woodcock brown,
    All of them come rushing down
    To the cot where baby slumbers.
    They have brought Babyónka sleep.
    O’er thy slumbers Saints are watching.



Queen Thamar’s Castle.

(_Translated from Lermontof._)


    In Dariel’s rocky gorges deep,
    Where Terek’s water madly moves,
    There is a castle on the steep,
    The scene of Queen Tamára’s loves.
    She seemed to play an angel’s part;
    Black as a demon’s was her heart.

    The weary traveller from below
    Looked on Tamára’s window-glow,
    And gazing on the twinkling light,
    Went in to sup and pass the night.

    But as the rays of rosy dawn
    Gilded the mountains in the morn,
    Silence fell on Tamára’s halls,
    And Terek’s madly rushing wave
    A mangled corpse bore to its grave.



Ulster’s Prayer.


    O God, who once in ages past
      Savedst from the fierce Red Sea
    And Ramses’ chariots following fast
      Thy sons who sang to Thee:
    Turn Thee again, Lord of the Saints,
      Unto our suppliant side,
    Who humbly beg Thy help against
      Those who Thy faith deride.

    ’Gainst those who that pure faith can turn
      To dogma harsh and strict,
    From which all who its errors spurn
      Are cast off derelict;
    We, as our fathers prayed before,
      Fighting for faith and home,
    Beseech Thee for Thy help once more
      Against the wiles of Rome.



Dark Donegal.


    The ocean is dashing
      Its waves o’er the strand
    That shelters Sheep Haven
      With hillocks of sand.
    M‘Swyne’s Gun is winding
      His horn o’er the lea,
    Atlantic is grinding
      The dust of the sea.

    It cuts from the fields,
      Lough, haven, and bay,
    And dark Donegal yields
      To its constant sword-play.[D]
    Through infinite inlets
      It pours willy-nilly,
    Into Ness and Mulroy,
      Sheep Haven and Swilly.

    Atlantic was born
      Bluff, boisterous, coy;
    It may storm at the Horn
      When it coos at Mulroy.
    The ocean is silent,
      Or noisy or sullen;
    It may sleep at Melmore,
      Or rage at Rathmullan.

    The ghosts of Saldanha[E]
      Still walk at Port Salon;
    The bones of the Spaniards
      Lie deep off the Aran.
    In spite of these mem’ries,
      Or because of them all,
    The breeze carries gladness
      Over dark Donegal.

Dunfanaghy, September 2, 1913.



Hy-Brasail.


    Near where Horn its dark head
      Rears o’er the deep ocean,
    And the sea-birds whirl round
      In a constant commotion,
    Where loving Atlantic
      Outstretches its arms,
    Four islands romantic
      Lie, lost in their charms.

    The farthest is Tory,
      Rough, rocky and stern,
    Inishbeg, Inishbofin,
      Inishdoe, as you turn
    Your rapt gaze to the west,
      Orange, rose-red, or grey,
    Stretch, three islands at rest
      In the calm of the bay.

    And beyond them, most blest
      Of a realm without guile,
    In the sunshine and rest
      Lies Hy-Brasail, the isle
    Of the angels and saints,
      So lovely and dim,
    Where the sea’s white foam breaks
      On its far distant rim.

    The peasant who heard of
      This wonderful isle
    Set sail to the west
      With a confident smile.
    The dream of Hy-Brasail
      Within his heart burned,
    He was lost in the sea
      And never returned.

Londonderry, September 10, 1913.



Bálor of the Great Blows.


    Have ye read of the past in folios at Dublin
      Of Firwolgs, and of Pechts, and of red-headed Danes,
    And Fomors from Tory, who people went troublin’,
      Stealing woman and child, binding Irish in chains?

    Well, ’tis of these wild times and Ulster romantic,
      O’erspread by dark forests through which the elk called,
    And of rude pagan tribes, some dwarf, some gigantic,
      That I tell in this rhyme so poor and so bald.

    In a deep gloomy glen near Muckish’s mountain,
      Where the mist rolls in clouds and the waterfalls foam,
    From out of the cloud-rack, as out of a fountain;
      Himself saw a quare sight as he rode his horse home.

    In the glen at the mouth of a black souterrain
      (Where Crocknálarágagh looks down upon Tory,
    The island where Bálor of the Great Blows did reign)
      Shane O’Dugan beheld what I tell in my story.

    A woman as lovely as dead Ethné the Fair,
      With twelve ladies in waiting all clothed in gold,
    The Chief, MacKineely, and a boy with red hair,
      Came out the cave-dwelling and walked o’er the fold.

    Now the red-pate is changed into Bálor the King,
      All bent on the murder of brave MacKineely;
    And although through the valley his daughter’s shrieks ring,
      He cuts off his head on the stone Clough-an-neely.

    Fierce King Bálor would fain kill his young grandsons too,
      But the Princess resolves with her children to fly,
    And the eldest grows into a young farrier, who
      Thrusts a red-heated iron in Bálor’s one eye.

    The wounded King calls to his one grandson, “Asthore!”
      Whilst forth from the sore wound rushes water like oil,
    From Falcarragh the whole way right up to Gweedore,
      Till it forms a lough three times as deep as Lough Foyle!



The Garden.


    I know a garden sheltered from the north
      And east by lichened walls and stately trees
    Facing the south in rows are bursting forth
      Masses of bright flowers, fertilised by bees;
    In it from early morn, with spade and hoe,
      A good man trenches, digs, and plants, that things may grow.

    I would my mind were like that garden fair--
      A fruitful soil touched by the spade of God!
    No weeds of prejudice might grow up there,
      No tares of ignorance disgrace the sod,
    But Wisdom, glad of such a soil and ground,
      Would plant her flowers therein--to scatter fragrance round.

1904



A Song of Spring.


    It was Spring, joyous Spring,
    When each bud had just unfolden,
    From its bursting calyx golden,
    All the greenery of Spring,
    When I heard the cuckoo sing,
        Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!

    It was Spring, joyous Spring,
    When the shepherd on the wold,
    Having tended well the fold,
    Saw the meek-eyed ewes well-sheltered
    ’Gainst the hail and rain that peltered
        On the downs, in the Spring!

    It was Spring, joyous Spring,
    And the black thorn and the white,
    Breaking forth from out the night
    And the dark of Winter’s gloom,
    Raced the chestnuts into bloom
        With the leaves, in gentle Spring.

    It was Spring, joyous Spring,
    When from bush and bough and tree
    Burst a song of joy to Thee,
    Who hast made the lark that singeth,
    And the earth whose produce bringeth
    Forth in Spring:
    When I heard the cuckoo sing,
        Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!

April, 1896.



The Miráge on Kizil Koom.


    Where the hot sun o’er Caspian’s reedy shore
      In a red ball of fire descends in gloom,
    I trod the desert’s silent, sandy floor,
      Called by the Turkománs the Kizil Koom.

    No grass, no flower relieves the rusty sheen,
      Perhaps an antelope goes rushing through
    The rare sage-brush; no water there is seen,
      Save where the fell miráge distracts the view.

    And that miráge! At first a little cloud,
      From which green trees and silvery lakes arise,
    Where white felucca sails deceive the crowd
      Of weary travellers, and fool their eyes.

    Ah! what art thou, miráge? What have I seen?
      “I am the many things of which you dream”
    “At morn of life, but never hold at e’en.”
      “I am the hopes with which your fancies teem!”

    “I am the scholar’s prize, the high degree;”
      “The sword of steel at side, the fox’s brush;”
    “The little cross of bronze, the prized V.C.;”
      “The thundering sound of steeds, the warrior’s rush!”

    “I am the heart’s desire, the lover bold;”
      I am the silken gown, the judge’s chair
    I am the battle won; the book well sold
      Coronet; Ermine! Castle in the air!”

    Ah! Kizil Koom, Red Sand, what more dost say
      In thy miráge to travellers o’er thy floor?
    “I teach content to those who through the way
      Of life well spent have passed, and dream no more.”



A Dream of Samarkánd.


    Between the mountains of Alai
      And Tian-Shan’s heavenly chain
    Lies the home of the Zagatai,
      Fergána’s fruitful plain.
    First of the towns whose domes and wall
      Deck that illustrious land
    Stands the lame Timùr’s capital,
      His best-loved Samarkánd.

    I stood inside a shattered room,
      Stricken by earthquakes rife,
    That Timùr raised above the tomb
      Of Ming’s fair daughter-wife.
    Daughter of China’s Bógdu-Khan,
      Wife of the great Timùr,
    Who ’twixt them ruled the vast inland
      From Red Sea to Amùr.

    Above an arch a double dome
      Bites in the clear blue sky
    (Bramanté’s famous fane at Rome
      Seems scarce so broad and high).
    Above the dome a crescent bright
      Watched sleepy Samarkánd,
    Asleep to-day, but wide awake
      When Timùr ruled the land.

    Sure, such a tomb was never raised
      By widower to wife!
    Nor Akhbar brave nor Shah Jehán
      Did thus weld bricks to life.
    The Tâj, in marble shining bright
      By Agra’s sun-baked walls,
    Must yield the palm for sheer delight
      To Bibi-Khánim’s halls.

    The sun shines through the double dome,
      Lighting its inner skin,
    It shows the remnant of the stair
      That upwards led within,
    From which the muezzin, climbing slow,
      To shout the evening prayer,
    Could see the Rigistán below,
      Shir-Dár and Tilla-Kare.

    I seemed to see the cliffs at Kesh,
      Whence came the great Amìr,
    From whose red rift the Zarafshán
      Sends forth its waters clear.
    I seemed to see the Tatar horde,
      Under Toktámish brave,
    Beaten and drowning in the ford
      That crosses Kubán’s wave.

    I saw the Mogul army move
      To conquer Hindostán;
    Its serried, strong divisions prove
      The master mind of man.
    Ninety-two thousand fretting steeds
      Rush down from hill to plain;
    Timùr descends the khud by ropes,
      Five times let down again.

    The Mongols march upon Attock
      And cross the rivers five,
    Timùr joins forces at Multán
      With all his sons alive;
    His armies then invest Batnir,
      They come to Delhi’s towers,
    Mahmud Sultán gives battle there,
      Timùr his standard lowers.

    Asia, from Irtish to Ormùz
      O’er-run by Timùr’s bands,
    Irán, Turán and Ind had felt
      The weight of Mongol hands.
    Aleppo taken by the horde,
      Timùr fresh laurels culls,
    And covers Baghdad’s reeking sward
      With pyramids of skulls.

    Now on Angóra’s fateful plain
      The “Lightning” Bayazet
    Urges his Turks to fight, in vain,
      ’Gainst Mongol and kismet.
    ’Twas told that Bayazet was caged
      Just like a timid deer,
    But Timùr never warfare waged
      On captives of his spear.

    From all these scenes of lust and blood
      I turn to Samarkánd,
    Where Zarafshán’s refreshing flood
      Gives life unto the land.
    Here Timùr mosque and palace built
      Around a sheltered pool,
    Set in a field with arbours gilt,
      And called it Khân-i-Gùl.

    Thousands of guests were bid to share
      The great Amìr’s largesse,
    The Guilds and Trades were gathered there,
      The wronged received redress.
    Here, in his coat of mail of steel,
      Timùr, ’midst his sepoys,
    From Russ, and France, and far Castille,
      Received the Grand Envoys.

    Six grandsons of the Great Amìr
      Wed brides of princely rank,
    Nine times the brides their dresses change,
      Nine times their handmaids thank.
    Each time each bride is fresh arrayed,
      Fall to the ground in showers
    Rubies and diamonds, which the maid
      Keeps as her bridal flowers!

    I see Timùr, one boot, one glove,
      And with his lint-white hair,
    Delighted on his chess-board move
      Fifty-six pieces fair.
    The blood-red ruby in his ear
      Trembles before my view,
    But when his rage the stone shakes there,
      ’Fore God! the world shakes too.

    At last the Mogul Emperor
      Invades far-off Cathay,
    He starts, the tired conqueror,
      Marching ten miles a day,
    Crosses Syr-Dária’s solid stream,
      And stops at Otrár, when
    He sees the blade of Àzrael gleam
      At three-score years and ten.

    Come with me to the Gùr-Amir,
      Within whose simple walls
    Over a six-foot block of jade
      A horsehair standard falls.
    Beneath the dark and polished stone
      Descends a bare brick stair,
    Leading to Tamerlane’s own tomb,
      Nor pomp nor state is there.

    Beneath the fluted, darkened dome,
      Where dimly seen in gloom,
    Surrounded by an Arab text,
      Hangs Timùr’s tattered plume,
    Outside the simple marble rail
      Engraved with Timùr’s name,
    The passing pilgrim cannot fail
      To muse on Timùr’s fame.



At Santa Sophia, Constantinople.

(_A Fragment._)


    There is the altar, there is the wall,
      Disfigured by Méhemet’s hand:
    We should raise the Cross of Christ in the hall
      Where the Turkish banners stand;
    And the tones of “Te Deum,” quenched in blood,
      Should resound again in the land.



The Hill Cities.


    All along the line of mountains
      That begin at Narni’s towers,
    Stand the grey and brown hill cities,
      ’Midst the sunshine and the showers.
    Each a tower of strength itself,
      Well walled and machicolated,
    Or for Ghibelline or Guelph,
      Each ’twixt each interpolated;
    Now for Kaiser, now for Pope,
      Narni, Terni, and Spoleto.
    From its crag or hilly slope
      Tremi faces Montefalco,
    By Topino sits Foligno,
      Assisi of the stony street,
    Almost at its base is Spello
      Where the chalk and limestone meet.
    Here the rain-clouds veil the mountain,
      Here the sunbeams chase the sleet,
    And the rivers fill the fountain
      Grey in proud Perugia’s street.

Perugia, April, 1912.



Florence from San Miniato.


    Beneath my feet the smokeless city fair:
      Duomo and Giotto’s noble tower arise
    Like sentinels o’er Florence! In the air
      Something, not mist, but silvery vapour, lies.

    Up a steep hill climbs famous Fiésole
      From out the dark woods of Domenico,
    Close to Arno’s bank is Santa Crocé,
      Where lies at rest great Michael Angelo.

    And through the landscape, winding softly there,
      Arno betwixt his buttressed banks doth run
    Solemn and silent, steely bright and fair,
      Towards Carrara’s rocks, and setting sun.



The Thames.


    I love thy banks the best, O silent Thames,
                  At morning time,
    When fogs steal o’er them, and with ruddy flames
                  The still weak sun
    Bursts, now and then, at moments through the mist
                  And sudden flies,
    Leaving the landscape which his beams have kissed,
                  Cold and forlorn;
    And then, again returning to the fight,
                  The God of morn
    Dispels the clouds, and bathes in trembling light
                  Thy banks so gay.
    Or struggling with the clouds, now here, now there,
    O’erpowers them, and ushers in the day.

    I love thy banks again, O merry Thames,
                  Ambient and gay,
    When lowing herds graze in thy meads, or lie
                  With whisk of tail
    In the long grass, half hidden by the glazed
                  And heated air,
    And chew the cud half-silent or half-dazed.
                  How deadly still
    Is the full tide of noon, when beasts and birds
                  Alike repose,
    And from the sullen shade not e’en a bee
                  Or dragon-fly
    Breaks the hour’s silence! Then the cirrus clouds,
    Wind-chas’d and heavy, roll or stagger by.

    I love thy banks at all times, silver Thames,
                  But certes the least
    When huge waves suddenly immerse their sides,
                  And from the East,
    With sound of harp, or flute, and megaphones,
                  Young men and maids
    On steamers Allah’s Holy Name invoke
                  In raucous tones
    No Moslem knows, and call me curious names,
                  And drink, and smoke
    Not nargiléhs, but strong cigars, whose whiff
                  Borne on the air,
    Shocks my olfactory nerves, and makes me sick,
    Sick of them all, the Thames, the whole affair!



In Te, Domine, spero.


    ’Tis said that as the sinner dies
      Around him hover shadowy forms,
    Reflecting in his glassy eyes
      Some cloudy visions in Death’s storms.

    When on the hard-fought battle plain
      Gushes forth hot the bright red blood
    From out the bullet wound’s blue stain,
      With throbs that show the arterial flood;

    The shadowy forms may still be near
      Just where his body stains the sod,
    As sure of death but void of fear
      The man commends his soul to God.

    The half-forgotten youthful days,
      His father’s voice, his mother’s tears,
    Come back to him as whilst he prays
      Dark Azraël’s rustling wings he hears.

    Lost and forgotten, far from home
      (The stretcher-bearers pass him by)
    He dies alone: no, not alone,
      The shadowy forms are watching nigh.

    So ends the sinner. As he dies
      The shadowy forms (his own good deeds)
    Are wafted onward to the skies
      To plead for him in heavenly meads.



To Miss X. de C. on her Birthday.


    O’er this your natal day may angels watch and love preside,
    Your path with flowers be strewn and all betide
    To make your ways below, in joy begun,
    Run on through smiling fields till life be done.



Londonderry City Election, 1885.

Chas. E. Lewis, Q.C. (C.) 1824.
Justin McCarthy      (P.) 1795.


    To the black North, to Derry fair, a great “Historian” came,
    Backed by the strength of all his clan, by Parnell’s mighty name,
    His was the task, by wiles or force, to wrest the Virgin Crown
    From the proud city by the Foyle, of siege’s great renown.
    In vain the Separatist force, for naught their trumpets blown,
    Derry has shown that she prefers a “history” of her own!

Coblentz, December 1885.



Londonderry City Election, 1913.

           Hogg (N.) 2699.
Colonel Pakenham (C.) 2642.


    Flow, Foyle, full of tears, not water, on to the main,
    Past the wreck of the Boom, past Culmore, past MacGilligan,
    Take to the ocean, wind-swept and wave-tossed,
                    Our story of pain.

    Close gates, so heavy and ancient, brave Prentice boys,
    Shut out the sea, shut off England, shut out the Union.
    Shut out all links with our Empire, our trade and communion,
                    Our hopes and our joys!

    Blow, black from the North, cold wind from Malin Head!
    Take to our comrades in Leinster, in Connacht, in Munster,
    The tale of our struggle, our work, our disaster
                    Our honour is dead.

January 31, 1913.



To M. S.

(_A Fragment._)


    Sappho, your wild songs to the wind,
        The wild west wind,
    Recall an island to my mind,
        All mist-enshrined,
    Girt round with waves that break with force,
        Fearful, yet kind.

    Sappho, your sad songs to the sea,
        The southern sea,
    Bring back sweet mem’ries of the waves,
        The waves to me,
    And wild swans flying o’er the white
        Sands, by the sea.

    Sappho, the finest of your songs,
        “Hark to the rain!”
    Sends shivering through and through my heart
        Its sad refrain,
    Just as a broken lute-string strikes
        A soul in pain!



The Song of Timùr the Lame.

(_Imitated from the Persian_)


    Listen to me, my nightingale,
      My darling, my light, and my rose!
    I am sick of war and carnage,
      I long for peace and repose.
    My scimetar’s flash in the light
      Is not so bright as thy glances,
    And the beams ’neath thine eyelids bright
      Shame the flash of my spearmen’s lances.



Catullus, Carmina xxxi., l. 12 to end.


    “Salve, o venusta Sirmio, atque hero gaude,
     Gaudete vos, O Lydiae lacus undae,
     Ridete quicquid est domi cachinnorum.”

    “Hail, lovely Sirmio, and rejoice in me,
     Rejoice, O tumbling Lydian waves, and see
     In all my home peal out the laughter free!”



Catullus, Carmina lxxvi. (Si qua recordanti).


    “If pleasure can to man have come
     From his good deeds already done,
     From sacred faith, from plight maintained,
     From compact never yet profaned;
     All these remain in store for thee
     And fruits of thy lost love shall be.
     Catullus, for long years to come
     Thy breast shall be their only home!”

       *       *       *       *       *

     O gods, if ye can pity me
     Or mortal agony can see,
     If only once I have been pure,
     Tear out this cursed plague impure,
     Which creeping through my frame at rest
     Has chased all gladness from my breast.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Just gods! for sake of my own weal
    I pray you that this wound may heal!



The Fisherman’s Dream.


    Where the light clouds o’er Etna’s summit sleep
    And the dread winged Harpies vigil keep,
    Dark as the polished stone the blue wave falls,
    Weaving a canopy o’er Neptune’s halls.

    Over his work the tired fisher nods
    And in his dreams beholds the ancient gods.
    Whilst gentle sleep his wearied senses numbs,
    Swift in his trance fair Aphrodite comes;
    Light falls her footstep on the billowy wave,
    Softly she smiles upon her willing slave;
    Blue as the ether in the heights above,
    Radiant her eyes, all beaming o’er with love;
    Pink as the coral in the ocean foam,
    Parted, her lips invite him to her home;
    And like the algae in the deep sea trove
    Wavy her tresses in the zephyrs move;
    Whilst her soft whispers all his fears allay,
    Thus love’s fair goddess beckons him away.

    “Come with me, fisher, leave thy dreary toil,
    Fly from thy cares to Candia’s blessed soil;
    ’Neath Ida’s mount far from the sun’s fierce rays,
    In a cool grot we’ll pass the sweltering days,
    And when the moon shines on the silver sea,
    Drawn by my doves thou’lt float along with me;
    Hid in my cave shalt taste all love’s delights,
    Whilst joyous days succeed the tranquil nights.”

    Ah! shun her glances, danger lurketh there:
    Thus did her charms full often slaves ensnare.
    So young Adonis, who ne’er loved before,
    Fleeing her wiles, fell to the tusked boar,
    And Mars, the vengeful, direful, God of War,
    By Vulcan’s net trapped, all Olympus saw!
    Rather let Juno, who befriends pure loves,
    Drive from thy side the siren and her doves.
    Think of thy home in Baïa’s beauteous bay,
    Where sits thy wife, thy children joyous play,
    And of the taper by the Virgin’s shrine
    Lit as a safeguard for their weal and thine.

    Frightened he wakes, he starts, he rubs his eyes,
    Chased by the light the feckless phantom flies:
    Vanished the temptress, all his senses seem
    Once more his own; but Santos! what a dream!

Ashbrook, 1885.



The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Pieters’, February, 1900.


    I stood on the glacis at Pieters’
      And read there the word “Inniskilling,”
    Written red in the blood of soldiers as brave
      As e’er took Her Majesty’s shilling.
    I stood ’midst the ghosts of our children,
      Whose corpses beneath me were lying;
    And it seemed that I heard o’er the wind of the velt
      Their voices come solemnly sighing.

    They were taught from boyhood, these heroes,
      To fear neither rifle nor cannon;
    They were taught first by Perry M‘Clintock,
      Bob Ellis and fiery Buchanan.
    They rushed like the stream from the mountain,
      Or the wind o’er the Lakes of Fermanagh,
    And they fell like the leaves in the cold autumn blast,
      Or the drops pouring over the fountain.

    Ah! Mother of God! but I see them
      Stagger. Thackeray! Davidson! more!
    And who is the next, thrusting on thro’ the smoke?
      It is he! ’Tis _ma bouchal asthore_!
    His eye has the look of the eagle,
      His shout tops the musketry’s roar,
    Ah! now he’ll be in with the bay’net:
      No, he falls!--He is shot by a Boer.

    We think of you children of Ulster,
      All unknown, yet so splendidly brave;
    And although the remains of our dear ones
      Lie senseless and cold in the grave,
    Their mem’ries live now and for ever,
      Though their bones turn to dust ’neath the sod;
    For the spirit and soul of the soldier
      Rise like sweet-smelling incense to God.

    As I glanced over kopje and stone
      On the scene of this terrible drama,
    Past my eyes, other scenes, from the distant black North,
      Rolled on like a vast panorama.
    Such sights ere he gasped his last breath
      Perhaps appeared to the brave Fusilier,
    As at Thackeray’s word he rushed forward to death
      With a bound and a heart-stirring cheer!

    The dark clouds hang over a valley,
      The brown water rushes down foaming,
    The light from the cabin-door shines like a spark
      On the hill in the mists of the gloaming.
    The heather waves sweet in the wind
      That sweeps o’er the steep slopes of Sâwel;
    The crooked-beaked eagle swoops down on the hind,
      Whilst the cock-grouse lies low for a marvel.

    For thus, as we come to the entrance
      Of that lane that knows of no turning,
    Whether bullets are hissing, or rotten decks breaking,
      Or fever our wasted frame burning,
    The sights and the sounds of the home that we love
      O’er our minds come back hurriedly streaming,
    And we see in our dreams our long lost ones above,
      As Azraël’s death-blade is gleaming.

       *       *       *       *       *

    I stood ’midst the ghosts of our children,
      Whose corpses beneath me were lying;
    And it seemed that I heard o’er the wind of the velt
      Their voices come solemnly sighing.

Petersburg, October, 1901.



Senlac.


    Guillaume, fils naturel d’Arlette,
    Fit jurer une fois à Bayeux
    A Harold, le blond comte anglais,
    Sur les plus précieuses réliques
    Et aussi devant tous ses preux
    Toute loyauté et feauté.
    Harold jura qu’il l’aiderait
    A prendre à lui la succession
    (Enfin, donc, quand le temps viendrait)
    Du roi saxon le fainéant,
    Qu’il se mettrait de son côté
    Et de ses forces il l’aiderait.

    Édouard le Confesseur mourut
    En grande odeur de saincteté,
    Le Comte Harold vite accourut
    (Mil soixante-six, et cinq janvier).
    Lui roi d’Angleterre fut élu
    Et par Ealdred couronné.
    Contre lui bientôt guerre à mort
    Northumberland a déclaré;
    Ne voulant point tenter cette guerre,
    Qui lui allait à contre-cœur,
    Du Comte Edwin et Comte Morkère
    Harold épousa la jeune sœur.

    Guillaume, tout furieux, à Rouen
    Prépare vite une expédition,
    Appelle à lui le grand Lanfranc,
    Evesque lombard, et Hildebrand,
    Assemble une armée de Français,
    Flamands, Italiens et Bretons,
    Et des gens de tous les païs
    De Pouille, et de Sicile, Normands.
    Je dis moults barons, moulte canaille,
    Des hommes sans nom et sans carrière,
    Les longues lances, la vieille féraille,
    Sous le grand drapeau de Saint-Pierre.

    Faut savoir que cette compagnie,
    Ou plutôt bande d’aventuriers,
    Dont oncques ne virent France de leur vie,
    Furent bels et bons nommés _Français_,
    Tandis que Danois et Saxons
    Qu’Harold noblement commandait,
    Ceux de Sussesse et Saint-Edmond,
    Reçurent pour eux le nom d’_Anglais_.
    Les Français traversèrent La Manche
    Et descendirent en Angleterre
    Près d’Hastings, pendant qu’à l’arme blanche
    Harold tua Tostique, son frère.

    Parlons donc de l’armée anglaise.
    Victorieuse à Stamford-le-Pont,
    Elle poussa fortement vers le camp
    Ou plutôt position française.
    S’arrêtant à deux lieues de là,
    Harold envoya des espions,
    Qui lui rapportèrent la nouvelle
    “Plus prêtres que soldats entre Normands.”
    Rit bien et long le roi anglais:
    “Ceux que vous vîtes si bien rasés
    Ne sont ni prêtres ni gens mal-nés,
    Ce sont de vaillans Chevaliers.”

    De Conches, de Toarz, Montgomméri
    A l’extrême gauche étaient rangés;
    A droite, de Fergert, Améri
    Poitevins et Bretons commandaient;
    Au centre, l’Evesque de Bayeux,
    Grand et majestueux Odon;
    Puis Guillaume, avec tous ses preux;
    Ainsi se rangèrent les Normands.
    Brave Taillefer, le Menestrel,
    Le premier coup de sabre donnant,
    Le premier tomba de sa selle,
    Chantant la chanson de Roland.

    Fils-Osbert et Montgomméri
    Attaquèrent sur la droite anglaise,
    Avec Boulogne et Berri,
    En partant de la gauche française.
    De l’autre flanc, Alain Fergert,
    Barons de Maine et d’Améri
    Se ruèrent sur la haute terre
    Retranchée de gros pilotis,
    Où l’étendard au dragon d’or
    Flottait dessus les écussons
    Plantés en ligne, et juste derrière
    Brillaient les hâches-d’armes des Saxons.

    Les hommes de Boulogne et de Poix
    Suivaient le Baron d’Améri
    Et donnèrent rudement maintes fois
    Sur la ligne des gros pilotis.
    Mais sous les coups terribles des hâches
    Et testes et bras tombaient par terre;
    A vrai dire n’y avait point de lâches,
    Car corps-à-corps se fit la guerre.
    Tout de même dans le vaste fossé
    Bien des chevaliers sans chevaux
    De coups de hâche furent assommés,
    En tâchant de sortir de l’eau!

    Troublés, et même un peu confus,
    Les écuyers aux destriers,
    Voyant ainsi tuer les preux,
    S’écriaient: “Fuyez donc, fuyez!”
    Mais le dur évesque de Bayeux
    Arriva bientôt au galop,
    “Holà!” dit-il; “splendeur de Dieu!
    Faites face à l’ennemi, salops!”
    Donc piquant fort des éperons
    Et frappant fortement de sa masse,
    Poussant toujours son cheval blanc,
    Le brave évesque se faisait place.

    Le terrible combat rageait
    Du matin jusques après-midi;
    Les Normands tous criaient, “Dex aie!”
    Les Saxons criaient fort aussi.
    Vu que les flêches de nos archers
    N’atteignirent point à l’ennemi,
    Tous derrière leurs remparts courbés,
    Guillaume à ses gens commanda
    De tirer haut dans l’air les flêches.
    Arriva donc comme il pensa,
    Même sans pratiquer de brêche!

    Le roi Harold et Gyrt, son frère,
    Ensemble bravement se battaient
    En haut du grand rempart de terre
    De gros pilotis couronné.
    Une flêche, qui semble tomber du ciel
    Et dans sa chute descendante vire,
    Atteignit Harold près de l’œil.
    Le roi tout hardiment retire
    De la blessure le bois cassé.
    Il tombe, se tenant à demi
    Evanoui sur son bouclier.
    L’ange gardien des Saxons frémit!

    Sur toute la ligne des Français
    Se fit un mouvement en arrière;
    C’était le moment des Anglais,
    Qui sautèrent par-dessus barrière.
    Ils criaient hautement en revanche,
    “A quoi bon, imbéciles, de fuir?
    A moins de sauter par La Manche
    Vous ne reverrez point Saint-Cyr.”
    Arrive Sieur de Montgomméri,
    “Frappez, François! à nous le jour;
    Frappez! frappez! frappez!” il crie:
    Les coups Normands redoublent d’ardeur!

    Les Saxons, eux aussi frappent fort,
    Poussés sur Senlac-la-Colline,
    Se battaient toujours corps-à-corps,
    Quoique prévoyant leur ruine.
    L’on vit d’Auviler et d’Onbac,
    Saint-Clair, Fils-Ernest, Mortemer,
    Poussant les premiers vers Senlac,
    Fils-Ernest tombant mort à terre.
    Harold trois fois blessé est mort
    Et Gyrt est tué par Guillaume,
    Chancelle le fameux dragon d’or,
    Et tombe, le symbole du royaume.

    Fut ainsi que tomba le sort!
    Guillaume rendit grâces à Dieu,
    Pleura la perte de ses deux frères,
    Remercia encore ses preux.
    Il donna au Grand Dieu la gloire
    Et fit planter les léopards
    Qui flottèrent avec la victoire
    Où gisait sale le dragon d’or.
    D’Harold parmi tous les blessés
    Fut impossible de connaître corps,
    Mais Edith la Belle a trouvé
    Son amant vivant, hélas! mort.

    J’ai tâché, chers et bons amis,
    En réduisant ce rondelai
    En termes tout simples, où il s’agit
    De coups de lance, et coups d’épée,
    De faire à tout le monde comprendre,
    Marins, soldats, hommes, femmes, enfance,
    Qu’il faut garder et pas rendre
    Notre souveraine independence!
    Une île n’est jamais à l’abri
    D’un coup de main bien préparé:
    Donc, sans négliger votre marine,
    Veillez toujours sur votre armée.



Christmas-tide.


    Silently the snowflakes fall
      O’er the black and hardened ground;
    Radiant crystals form a pall,
      Stretching far and wide around.

    From the Ice-King’s glitt’ring halls
      Bitterly the north wind blows;
    Heap the logs within your walls,
      All the doors and windows close.

    Many a hundred years ago,
      On this very Christmas Day,
    In a manger mean and low
      Christ, the son of Mary, lay.

    Let our ways this Christmas-tide
      Follow in His steps above!
    Poor he lived and poor he died,
      All His doctrine was of love.

    Ours to soothe the aching heart,
      Ours to charity bestow,
    Ours His knowledge to impart
      To the suffering ones below!

    May that charity ne’er fail,
      May those good deeds never cease,
    Till our bark shall lower sail
      In the haven where is peace!

PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO. LTD., ETON
COLCHESTER AND LONDON


FOOTNOTES:

[A] Babyónka, baby.

[B] Bábochka, little woman, mother.

[C] The sandbanks in the Oka and Volga are strewn with small white
shells, and partly covered with sweet-smelling dock leaves; they swarm
with landrails and woodcock. (D. Grigorovitch.)

[D] The Rev. William Hamilton, D.D., born in Londonderry in December
1757, Rector of Clondevaddock, on Mulroy Bay, gives several instances
of the encroachment of the sea sand on fertile and inhabited land. The
town of Bannow in Wexford was a flourishing borough in the early part
of the seventeenth century, while in his day the site was marked only
by a few ruins, appearing above heaps of barren sand. Ulster Folk Lore,
E. Andrews.

[E] H.M.S. “Saldanha,” wrecked in Ballymastocker Bay, 1813.





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