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Poem by Aubrey Thomas De Vere

The Dirge of Athunree

This great battle marked an epoch in Irish history. In it the Norman power at last triumphed over that of the Gael, which had long been enfeebled by the divisions in the royal house of OConnor.

ATHUNREE! Athunree!
Erins heart, it broke on thee!
Neer till then in all its woe
Did that heart its hope forego.
Save a little childbut one
The latest regal race is gone.
Roderick died again on thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
A hundred years and forty-three
Winter-winged and black as night
Oer the land had tracked their flight:
In Clonmacnoise from earthy bed
Roderick raised once more his head:
Fedlim flood-like rushed to thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
The light that struggled sank on thee!
Neer since Cathall the red-handed
Such a host till then was banded.
Long-haired Kerne and Galloglass
Met the Norman face to face;
The saffron standard floated far
Oer the on-rolling wave of war;
Bards the onset sang oer thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
The poison tree took root in thee!
What might naked breasts avail
Gainst sharp spear and steel-ribbed mail?
Of our Princes twenty-nine,
Bulwarks fair of Connors line,
Of our clansmen thousands ten,
Slept on thy red ridges. Then
Then the night came down on thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
Strangely shone that moon on thee!
Like the lamp of them that tread
Staggering oer the heaps of dead,
Seeking that they fear to see.
O that widows wailing sore!
On it rang to Oranmore;
Died, they say, among the piles
That make holy Arans isles;
It was Erin wept on thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
The heart of Erin burst on thee!
Since that hour some unseen hand
On her forehead stamps the brand:
Her children ate that hour the fruit
That slays manhood at the root;
Our warriors are not what they were;
Our maids no more are blithe and fair;
Truth and honor died with thee,

Athunree! Athunree!
Never harvest wave oer thee!
Never sweetly breathing kine
Pant oer golden meads of thine!
Barren be thou as the tomb;
May the night-bird haunt thy gloom,
And the wailer from the sea,

Athunree! Athunree!
All my heart is sore for thee,
It was Erin died on thee,

Aubrey Thomas De Vere

Aubrey Thomas De Vere's other poems:
  1. Kinsale
  2. To a Flower on the Skirts of Mont Blanc
  3. A Ballad of Athlone; Or, How They Broke down the Bridge
  4. Composed at Rydal, September, 1860
  5. The Legends

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