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


King Cormac’s Crown

By Anonymous

PRINCE CORMAC sheathed his sharpest sword

In the breast of his brother’s son;

And his nobles hailed him as Riagh and Lord,

When the treacherous deed was done;

And they bore him in triumph to his palace, near

Where Bann’s deep waters wind,—

O Ulster! didst thou see and hear,

Or wert thou deaf and blind?

And Cormac sate at the feast that night,

In Antrim’s royal hall,

With his vassal Tiornachs and men of might,

And iron chieftains all;

“And where is the kingly diadem,” he cried,

“Ye have destined for this head?”

When the oaken door swung suddenly wide,

And lo! a sight of dread!

A bier with coffin and sable pall,

And bearers in mournful attire,

Moved slowly up the spacious hall,

While hushed was laugh and lyre!

And the murderer shook in his royal chair,

While he tried to grasp his spear;

But the curse of crime had stricken him there,

And he looked a statue of fear!

And the bearers lifted the coffin lid,

And a corpse, with a gory wound

In its naked breast, stood up amid

The death-pale revellers round;

And a crown of blood-cemented clay

In its hands it seemed to bear,

And it spake,—“O King, enjoy thy sway!

This diadem shalt thou wear!”

A silence deeper than the grave’s

Now thrills the throng with dread;

And the broken murmurs of Banna’s waves

Seem voices of the dead!

It was far in the wane of the emerald spring,

And a bright May morning poured

Its rays through the hall, but the Irish king

Sate dead at his banquet board!