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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Ireland: Vol. V. 1876–79.


Emmeline Talbot

By Thomas Davis (1814–1845)

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 falcon’s wing,

Only fifteen that spring,—

Soft was her soul.

Danger and dreamless sleep

Much did she scorn,

And from her father’s 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 river’s 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 roebuck’s eye

Glares from the green?

Is that a thrush’s 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 Talbot’s child,”

Shouted the kerne,

“Off to the mountains wild,

Faire, O’Byrne!”

Like a bird in a net,

Strove the sweet maiden yet,

Praying and shrieking, “Let—

Let me return.”

After a moment’s 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 maiden’s fears,

Kneeling was he,

When burst old Talbot’s spears

Out on the lea.

March-men, all stanch and stout,

Shouting their Belgard shout,—

“Down with the Irish rout,

Prets d’accomplir.”

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 O’Byrne 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

Belgard’s 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 captive’s 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 O’Byrne ’s seen

Wedded to Emmeline,

Girt by his clan!