"Sir Turlough" by Ethna Carbery [aka Mrs. Seumus MacManus, Anna Johnston] (1866-1902)
"Go forth to the combat,
My hero, my dearest," she cried, half in sorrow;
"The trumpets peal loudly, there's work for the daring;
Our country may rise on the wings of the morrow,
Then speed where the strong and high-hearted are faring.
"Bear the banner I broidered
Straight, straight to the core of the conflict; at sunset
My maidens shall croon the old songs of our sireland,
And our prayers shall ascend for the brave in the onset–
The faithful and noble who struggle for Ireland!
"Farewell, then; farewell, Love!
O, weak that I am! I would hold thee and keep thee,
And vex thy proud soul with my woman's beseeching,
Whose glory and anguish it may be to weep thee,
Since the dread arm of Death for our truest is reaching.
"Ah, fiery steed, fret not!
Nor prick thy fine ears at the ominous rattle;
Far happier than I, thou wilt still be anear him,
When my knight heads his clan in the stress of the battle
Down the ranks of the foe that shall fly and shall fear him.
"Yet in spirit I'll follow!
From our ivy-wreathed turret o'erlooking the valley
My anxious, sad eyes shall gaze under and over
For thy white tossing plume in the rush and the rally;
God guard thee and bless thee, my lover, my lover!"
Leaning forth in her beauty
She hears the quick tramp of his horse down the roadway,
She sees the white plume growing dim and yet dimmer,
Faint war-echoes fright her, until in the broadway
Of Heaven, smoke-shadowed, the pallid stars glimmer.
. . . . . . . .
With slow step and steady,
On spears, ruddy-dyed, interlaced and entwining
Up the rock-girded path where the mountain mist gathers,
And the fays hold their revels when day is declining,
They bore him at eve to the hall of his fathers.
Loud, loud wailed the keeners!
Their weird voices raised in the shrillness of trouble–
But not a moan made she, the dear and forsaken.
Mo bhron! 'tis our grief for the life of the noble
That the sharp-pointed steel of the spoiler had taken.
She knelt by him gently,
And pressed her sweet lips to the dead lips half parted,
And laid her bright head on the dead heart that loved her:
No desolate tears at his deep silence started–
His brave bride in living and dying she proved her.
Praise the kind God who pitied,
And gave them to sleep their long last sleep together:
Across his broad breast her gold hair like a glory–
Above them the purple of wind-drifted heather–
And to us the pathos and pride of their story.