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


Roisin Dubh; Or, the Bleeding Heart

By Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)

  • Roisin Dubh signifies the “Black little Rose,” and was one of the mystical names under which the bards celebrated Ireland.

  • O, WHO art thou with that queenly brow

    And uncrowned head?

    And why is the vest that binds thy breast,

    O’er the heart, blood-red?

    Like a rosebud in June was that spot at noon,

    A rosebud weak;

    But it deepens and grows like a July rose:

    Death-pale thy cheek!

    “The babes I fed at my foot lay dead;

    I saw them die:

    In Ramah a blast went wailing past;

    It was Rachel’s cry.

    But I stand sublime on the shores of Time,

    And I pour mine ode,

    As Myriam sang to the cymbals’ clang,

    On the wind to God.

    “Once more at my feasts my bards and priests

    Shall sit and eat:

    And the Shepherd whose sheep are on every steep

    Shall bless my meat!

    O, sweet, men say, is the song by day,

    And the feast by night;

    But on poisons I thrive, and in death survive

    Through ghostly might.”