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Poem by Thomas D'Arcy McGee

A Legend of Antrim

THE LADY OF ANTRIM rose with the morn,
  And donned her grandest gear,
And her heart beat fast when a sounding horn
  Announced a suitor near;
Hers was a heart so full of pride,
  That love had little room,
And faith, I would not wish me such bride,
  For all her beautiful bloom.

One suitor there came from the Scottish shore,
  Long and lithe and grim;
And a younger one from Dunluce hoar,
  And the lady inclined to him.
But hearken ye, nobles both, she said,
  As soon as they did dine;
The hand must prove its chieftainry
  That putteth a ring on mine.

But not in the lists with arméd hands
  Must this devoir be done,
Yet he who wins my broad, broad lands
  Their lady may count as won.
Ye both were born upon the shore,
  Were bred upon the sea,
Now let me see you ply the oar,
  For the land you loveand me!

The chief that first can reach the strand
  May mount at morn and ride,
And his long days ride shall bound his land,
  And I will be his bride!
MQuillan felt hope in every vein,
  As the bold, bright lady spoke;
And MDonald glanced over his rival again,
  And bowed with a bargemans stroke.

T is summer upon the Antrim shore,
  The shore of shores it is,
Where the white old rocks deep caves arch oer,
  Unfathomed by man, I wis,
Where the basalt breast of our isle flings back
  The Scandinavian surge,
To howl through its native Scaggerack,
  Chanting the Vikings dirge.

T is summer,the long white lines of foam
  Roll lazily to the beach,
And man and maid from every home
  Their eyes oer the waters stretch.
On Glenarms lofty battlements
  Sitteth the lady fair,
And the warm west-wind blows softly
  Through the links of her golden hair.

The boats in the distant offing
  Are marshalled prow to prow;
The boatmen cease their scoffing,
  And bend to the rowlocks now;
Like glory-guided steeds they start,
  Away oer the waves they bound;
Each rower can hear the beating heart
  Of his brother boatman sound.

Nearer! nearer! on they come,
  Row, MDonald, row!
For Antrims princely castle home,
  Its lands, and its lady, row!
The chief that first can grasp the strand
  May mount at morn and ride,
And his long days ride shall bound his land,
  And she shall be his bride!

He saw his rival gain apace,
  He felt the spray in his wake,
He thought of her who watched the race
  More dear for her dowry sake!
Then he drew his skain from out its sheath,
  And lopt off his left hand,
And pale and fierce, as a chief in death,
  He hurled it to the strand!

The chief that first can grasp the strand
  May mount at morn and ride.
O, fleet is the steed which the bloody hand
  Through Antrims glens doth guide!
And legends tell that the proud ladye
  Would fain have been unbanned,
For the chieftain who proved his chieftainry
  Lorded both wife and land.

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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