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


The Blacksmith of Limerick

By Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–1883)

HE grasped his ponderous hammer, he could not stand it more,

To hear the bombshells bursting, and thundering battle’s roar;

He said, “The breach they ’re mounting, the Dutchman’s murdering crew,—

I ’ll try my hammer on their heads, and see what that can do!

“Now, swarthy Ned and Moran, make up that iron well;

’T is Sarsfield’s horse that wants the shoes, so mind not shot or shell.”

“Ah, sure,” cried both, “the horse can wait, for Sarsfield ’s on the wall,

And where you go, we ’ll follow, with you to stand or fall!”

The blacksmith raised his hammer, and rushed into the street,

His ’prentice boys behind him, the ruthless foe to meet;

High on the breach of Limerick, with dauntless hearts they stood,

Where bombshells burst, and shot fell thick, and redly ran the blood.

“Now look you, brown-haired Moran, and mark you, swarthy Ned,

This day we ’ll prove the thickness of many a Dutchman’s head!

Hurrah! upon their bloody path they ’re mounting gallantly;

And now the first that tops the breach, leave him to this and me!”

The first that gained the rampart, he was a captain brave,—

A captain of the grenadiers, with blood-stained dirk and glaive;

He pointed, and he parried, but it was all in vain,

For fast through skull and helmet the hammer found his brain!

The next that topped the rampart, he was a colonel bold,

Bright, through the dust of battle, his helmet flashed with gold.

“Gold is no match for iron,” the doughty blacksmith said,

As with that ponderous hammer he cracked his foeman’s head.

“Hurrah for gallant Limerick!” black Ned and Moran cried,

As on the Dutchmen’s leaden heads their hammers well they plied.

A bombshell burst between them,—one fell without a groan,

One leaped into the lurid air and down the breach was thrown.

“Brave smith! brave smith!” cried Sarsfield, “beware the treacherous mine!

Brave smith! brave smith! fall backward, or surely death is thine!”

The smith sprang up the rampart, and leaped the blood-stained wall,

As high into the shuddering air went foemen, breach, and all!

Up, like a red volcano, they thundered wild and high,

Spear, gun, and shattered standard, and foemen through the sky;

And dark and bloody was the shower that round the blacksmith fell;

He thought upon his ’prentice boys,—they were avengéd well.

On foemen and defenders a silence gathered down;

’T was broken by a triumph-shout that shook the ancient town,

As out its heroes sallied, and bravely charged and slew,

And taught King William and his men what Irish hearts could do!

Down rushed the swarthy blacksmith unto the river side;

He hammered on the foe’s pontoon to sink it in the tide;

The timber it was tough and strong, it took no crack or strain;

“Mavrone! ’t won’t break,” the blacksmith roared; “I ’ll try their heads again!”

He rushed upon the flying ranks, his hammer ne’er was slack,

For in through blood and bone it crashed, through helmet and through jack;—

He ’s ta’en a Holland captain, beside the red pontoon,

And “Wait you here,” he boldly cries; “I ’ll send you back full soon!

“Dost see this gory hammer? It cracked some skulls to-day,

And yours ’t will crack if you don’t stand and list to what I say:

Here! take it to your curséd king, and tell him softly too,

’T would be acquainted with his skull if he were here, not you!”

The blacksmith sought his smithy, and blew his bellows strong;

He shod the steed of Sarsfield, but o’er it sang no song.

“Ochone! my boys are dead,” he cried; “their loss I ’ll long deplore,

But comfort ’s in my heart,—their graves are red with foreign gore!”