A Celebration 
of Women Writers

"Niall Glondubh to Gormlai" by Ethna Carbery [aka Mrs. Seumus MacManus, Anna Johnston] (1866-1902)
From: The Four Winds of Eirinn: Poems by Ethna Carbery. (Anna MacManus.), Complete Edition, Edited by Seumas MacManus. Dublin, Ireland: M. H. Gill and Son, Ltd. 1906. pp. 115-116.

Editor: Mary Mark 

[Page 115] 


(A. D. 913.)

The war-pipes blow, and with joy I go from Aileach's Halls to the hosting-field,
I have roused my men from each Ulster glen in the glitter of rustless spear and shield.

They are yours for life, O'Cearbhall's wife, or yours for death in the battle's blare–
When our blue-sharp swords through Leinster's hordes shall cut a pathway for vengeance there.

Shall cleave and kill with a mighty will, shall hack and hew for your woe or weal,
Till one who is best on his foeman's breast shall press in triumph the victor heel.

So now we march 'neath the greening arch of woodland places, swim rivers wide,
To guard your name from a coward's blame; to bear you far from a coward's side.

O fair bride, flown on a wayward blown ill-wind to a loveless royal seat,
Hath a crown consoled for the bliss of old–hath your sorrow remembered my sorrow, Sweet?

[Page 116] 

I have worn my pain as a secret chain, yet out of the years my passion cries–
The ache stirs keen in my heart, O Queen, and my eyes are wet for your haunting eyes.

Come back, come back, o'er the Northland track, let us laugh and kiss as in days that were–
When our childhood played in the quicken shade and I hid my face in your red-gold hair.

In your gríanân bright for Love's delight, I shall tune my harp to the songs you sing,
Sweeter than thrush in the twilight hush, or lark at morn on a rising wing.

You are mine, yea, mine, by a right divine, who dares deny while my hand is strong?
Though Cearbhall won, from her father's dún, my flower of flowers to her bitter wrong.

But our Clans shall pay the debt this day, and Niall welcome his Heart's Desire–
His Hope, his Star, through the stress of war, set free at last from her bondage dire.

Come straight, come straight to the arms that wait–nor in Cearbhall's arms shall you rest again–
Your knight I go, to meet my foe, and my guerdon reap on the battle-plain.


Editor: Mary 
Mark Ockerbloom