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


When South Winds Blow

By Thomas Davis (1814–1845)

WHY sits the gentle maiden there,

While surfing billows splash around?

Why doth she southwards wildly stare,

And sing, with such a fearful sound,—

“The Wild Geese fly where others walk;

The Wild Geese do what others talk;

The way is long from France, you know,—

He ’ll come at last when south winds blow.”

O, softly was the maiden nurst

In Castle Connell’s lordly bowers,

Where Skellig’s billows boil and burst,

And, far above, Dunkerron towers:

And she was noble as the hill,—

Yet battle-flags are nobler still;

And she was graceful as the wave,

Yet who would live a tranquil slave?

And, so, her lover went to France,

To serve the foe of Ireland’s foe;

Yet deep he swore, “Whatever chance,

I ’ll come some day when south winds blow.”

And prouder hopes he told beside,

How she should be a prince’s bride,

How Louis would the Wild Geese send,

And Ireland’s weary woes should end.

But tyrants quenched her father’s hearth,

And wrong and absence warped her mind;

The gentle maid, of gentle birth,

Is moaning madly to the wind,—

“He said he ’d come, whate’er betide;

He said I ’d be a happy bride:

O, long the way and hard the foe,—

He ’ll come when south—when south winds blow!”