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

Market Hill

On Cutting down the Thorn, at Market Hill

By Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

AT Market Hill, as well appears

By chronicle of ancient date,

There stood for many hundred years

A spacious thorn before the gate.

Hither came every village maid,

And on the boughs her garland hung;

And here, beneath the spreading shade,

Secure from satyrs sat and sung.

Sir Archibald, that valorous knight,

The lord of all the fruitful plain,

Would come and listen with delight;

For he was fond of rural strain.

(Sir Archibald, whose favorite name

Shall stand for ages on record,

By Scottish bards of highest fame,

Wise Hawthornden and Stirling’s lord.)

But time with iron teeth, I ween,

Has cankered all its branches round;

No fruit or blossom to be seen,

Its head reclining toward the ground.

This aged, sickly, sapless thorn,

Which must, alas! no longer stand,

Behold the cruel Dean in scorn

Cuts down with sacrilegious hand.


Thus, when the gentle Spina found

The thorn committed to her care,

Received its last and deadly wound,

She fled, and vanished into air.

But from the root a dismal groan

First issuing struck the murderer’s ears:

And, in a shrill revengeful tone,

This prophecy he trembling hears:

“Thou chief contriver of my fall,

Relentless Dean, to mischief born;

My kindred oft thine hide shall gall,

Thy gown and cassock oft be torn.

“And thy confederate dame, who brags

That she condemned me to the fire,

Shall rend her petticoats to rags,

And wound her legs with every brier.

“Nor thou, Lord Arthur, shalt escape;

To thee I often called in vain,

Against that assassin in crape;

Yet thou couldst tamely see me slain:

“Nor, when I felt the dreadful blow,

Or chid the Dean, or pinched thy spouse;

Since you could see me treated so

(An old retainer to your house),

“May that fell Dean, by whose command

Was formed this Machiavelian plot,

Not leave a thistle on thy land;

Then who will own thee for a Scot?

“Pigs and fanatics, cows and teagues,

Through all my empire I foresee,

To tear thy hedges join in leagues,

Sworn to revenge my thorn and me.

“And thou, the wretch ordained by fate,

Neal Gahagan, Hibernian clown,

With hatchet blunter than thy pate,

To hack my hallowed timber down;

“When thou, suspended high in air,

Diest on a more ignoble tree

(For thou shalt steal thy landlord’s mare),

Then, bloody caitiff! think on me.”