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

Boyne, the River

The River Boyne

By Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825–1868)

CHILD of Loch Ramor, gently seaward stealing,

In thy placid depths hast thou no feeling

Of the stormy gusts of other days?

Does thy heart, O gentle, nun-faced river,

Passing Schomberg’s obelisk, not quiver,

While the shadow on thy bosom weighs?

Thou hast heard the sounds of martial clangor,

Seen fraternal forces clash in anger,

In thy Sabbath valley, River Boyne!

Here have ancient Ulster’s hardy forces

Dressed their ranks and fed their travelled horses,

Tara’s hosting as they rode to join.

Forgettest thou that silent summer morning

When William’s bugles sounded sudden warning

And James’s answered chivalrously clear?

When rank to rank gave the death-signal duly,

And volley answered volley quick and truly,

And shouted mandates met the eager ear?

The thrush and linnet fled beyond the mountains,

The fish in Inver Colpa sought their fountains,

The unchased deer scampered through Tredagh’s gates;

St. Mary’s bells in their high places trembled,

And made a mournful music which resembled

A hopeless prayer to the unpitying Fates.

Ah! well for Ireland had the battle ended

When James forsook what William well defended,

Crown, friends, and kingly cause;

Well, if the peace thy bosom bid recover

Had breathed its benediction broadly over

Our race and rites and laws.

Not in thy depths, not in thy fount, Loch Ramor!

Were brewed the bitter strife and cruel clamor

Our wisest long have mourned;

Foul faction falsely made thy gentle current

To Christian ears a stream and name abhorrent,

And all thy waters into poison turned.

But, as of old God’s prophet sweetened Mara,

Even so, blue bound of Ulster and of Tara,

Thy waters to our exodus gave life;

Thrice holy hands thy lineal foes have wedded,

And healing olives in thy breast embedded,

And banished far the littleness of strife.

Before thee we have made a solemn fœdus,

And for chief witness called on Him who made us,

Quenching before his eyes the brands of hate;

Our pact is made, for brotherhood and union,

For equal laws to class and to communion,—

Our wounds to stanch, our land to liberate.

Our trust is not in musket or in sabre,

Our faith is in the fruitfulness of labor,

The soul-stirred, willing soil;

In homes and granaries by justice guarded,

In fields from blighting winds and agents warded,

In franchised skill and manumitted toil.

Grant us, O God, the soil and sun and seasons!

Avert despair, the worst of moral treasons,

Make vaunting words be vile.

Grant us, we pray, but wisdom, peace, and patience,

And we will yet relift among the nations

Our fair and fallen, but unforsaken Isle!