Thomas Osborne Davis ( )


Emmeline Talbot


A Ballad of the Pale

The scene is on the borders of Dublin and Wicklow.

T WAS a September day,
  In Glenismole,
Emmeline Talbot lay
  On a green knoll.
She was a lovely thing,
Fleet as a falcons wing,
Only fifteen that spring,
  Soft was her soul.

Danger and dreamless sleep
  Much did she scorn,
And from her fathers keep
  Stole out that morn.
Towards Glenismole she hies;
Sweetly the valley lies,
Winning the enterprise,
  No one to warn.

Till by the noon, at length,
  High in the vale,
Emmeline found her strength
  Suddenly fail.
Panting, yet pleasantly,
By Dodder-side lay she
Thrushes sang merrily,
  Hail, sister, hail!

Hazel and copse of oak
  Made a sweet lawn,
Out from the thicket broke
  Rabbit and fawn.
Green were the ciscirs round,
Sweet was the rivers sound,
Eastwards flat Cruach frowned,
  South lay Sliabh Bán.

Looking round Barnakeel,
  Like a tall Moor
Full of impassioned zeal,
  Peeped brown Kippure.
Dublin in feudal pride,
And many a hold beside,
Over Finn-ghaill preside,
  Sentinels sure!

Is that a roebucks eye
  Glares from the green?
Is that a thrushs cry
  Rings in the screen?
Mountaineers round her sprung,
Savage their speech and tongue,
Fierce was their chief and young,
  Poor Emmeline!

Hurrah, t is Talbots child,
  Shouted the kerne,
Off to the mountains wild,
  Faire, OByrne!
Like a bird in a net,
Strove the sweet maiden yet,
Praying and shrieking, Let
  Let me return.

After a moments doubt,
  Forward he sprung,
With his sword flashing out,
  Wrath on his tongue.
Touch not a hair of hers,
Dies he who finger stirs!
Back fell his foragers;
  To him she clung.

Soothing the maidens fears,
  Kneeling was he,
When burst old Talbots spears
  Out on the lea.
March-men, all stanch and stout,
Shouting their Belgard shout,
Down with the Irish rout,
  Prets daccomplir.

Taken thus unawares,
  Some fled amain;
Fighting like forest bears,
  Others were slain.
To the chief clung the maid,
How could he use his blade?
That night upon him weighed
  Fetter and chain.

O, but that night was long,
  Lying forlorn,
Since, mid the wassail song,
  These words were borne:
Nathless your tears and cries,
Sure as the sun shall rise,
Connor OByrne dies,
  Talbot has sworn.

Brightly on Tamhlacht hill
  Flashes the sun;
Strained at his window-sill,
  How his eyes run
From lonely Sagart slade
Down to Tigh-bradán glade,
Landmarks of border raid,
  Many a one.

Too well the captive knows
  Belgards main wall
Will, to his naked blows,
  Shiver and fall,
Ere in his mountain hold
He shall again behold
Those whose proud hearts are cold,
  Weeping his thrall.

O for a mountain side,
  Bucklers and brands!
Freely I could have died
  Heading my bands,
But on a felon tree
Bearing a fetter key,
By him all silently
  Emmeline stands.

*        *        *        *        *

Late rose the castellan,
  He had drunk deep,
Warder and serving-man
  Still were asleep,
Wide is the castle-gate,
Open the captives grate,
Fetters disconsolate
  Flung in a heap.

*        *        *        *        *

T is an October day,
  Close by Loch Dan
Many a creach lay,
  Many a man.
Mongst them, in gallant mien,
  Connor OByrne s seen
Wedded to Emmeline,
  Girt by his clan!



Thomas Osborne Davis's other poems:
  1. When South Winds Blow
  2. The Boatman of Kinsale
  3. The Sack of Baltimore
  4. The Geraldines
  5. Argan Mór


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