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Poem by Thomas D'Arcy McGee


Cathals Farewell to the Rye



Cathal Crov-derg (the red-handed) OConnor, being banished in his infancy from Connaught, was found in exile in Leinster by the Bollscaire (messenger or herald), who brought him the news of his father Thurloughs death, and his own election. The Bollscaire found him reaping rye in a field with clowns. On hearing the news, Cathal cast the sickle on the ridge, saying: Farewell, sickle; now for the sword! To this day, Cathals farewell to the Rye has been a proverb among the Sil-Murray whenever they wanted to express a final farewell. See ODonovans Annals of the Four Masters.

SHINING sickle! lie thou there;
  Another harvest needs my hand,
Another sickle I must bear
  Back to the fields of my own land.
          Farewell, sickle! welcome, sword!

A crop waves red on Connaughts plain,
  Of bearded men and banners gay,
But we will beat them down like rain,
  And sweep them like the storm away.
          Farewell, sickle! welcome, sword!

Peaceful sickle! lie thou there,
  Deep buried in the vanquished rye;
May this that in thy stead I bear
  Above as thick a reaping lie!
          Farewell, sickle! welcome, sword!

Welcome, sword! out from your sheath,
  And look upon the glowing sun;
Sharp-shearer of the field of death,
  Your time of rust and rest is gone.
          Welcome, welcome, trusty sword!

Welcome, sword! no more repose
  For Cathal Crov-derg or for thee,
Until we walk oer Erins foes,
  Or they walk over you and me,
          My lightning, banner-cleaving sword!

Welcome, sword! thou magic wand,
  Which raises kings and casts them down;
Thou sceptre to the fearless hand,
  Thou fetter-key for limbs long bound,
          Welcome, wonder-working sword!

Welcome, sword! no more with love
  Will Cathal look on land or main,
Till with thine aid, my sword! I prove
  What race shall reap and king shall reign.
          Farewell, sickle! welcome, sword!

Shining sickle! lie thou there;
  Another harvest needs my hand,
Another sickle I must bear
  Back to the fields of my own land.
          Farewell, sickle! welcome, sword!



Thomas D'Arcy McGee


Thomas D'Arcy McGee's other poems:
  1. Feagh MHugh
  2. The Gobhan Saer
  3. The River Boyne
  4. The Four Masters
  5. St. Cormac the Navigator


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