Michael Dwyer (Version II)

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At length brave Michael Dwyer and his undaunted men
Were scented o’er the mountains and tracked into the glen;
The stealthy soldiers followed, with ready blade and ball,
And swore to trap the outlaws that night in wild Emall.

They prowled about the valley, and toward the dawn of day
Discovered where the faithful and fearless heroes lay;
Around the little cottage they formed a ring,
And called out “Michael Dwyer, surrender to the king!”

Thus answered Michael Dwyer: “Into this house we came
Unasked by those who own it, they cannot be to blame;
Then let those guiltless people, unquestioned, pass you through,
And when they’re passed in safety, I’ll tell you what we’ll do.”

‘Twas done – “and now,” said Dwyer, “your work you may begin;
You are a hundred outside, we’re only four within;
We’ve heard your haughty summons, and this is our reply:
We’re true united Irishmen, we’ll fight until we die.”

Then burst the wars red lightning, then poured the leaden rain,
The hills around re-echoed the thunder peals again.
The soldiers falling round him, brave Dwyer sees with pride –
But ah! One gallant comrade is wounded by his side.

Yet there are three remaining good battle still to do,
Their hands are strong and steady, their aim is quick and true
But hark – that furious shouting the savage soldiers raise!
The house is fired around them, the roof is in a blaze!

And brighter every moment the lurid flamed arose
And louder swelled the laughter and cheering of their foes,
Then spake the brave M’Allister the weak and wounded man
“You can escape my comrades, and this shall be your plan””

“”Place in my hands a musket, then lie upon the floor,
I’ll stand before the soldiers, and open wide the door;
They’ll pour into my bosom the fire of their array,
Then while their guns are empty, dash through them and away!””

He stood before the foemen revealed amidst the flame,
From out their levelled pieces the wished-for volley came,
Up sprang the three survivors, for whom the hero died,
But only Michael Dwyer, burst through the ranks outside.

He baffled his pursuers, who followed like the wind,
And swam the river Slaney and left them far behind
And many a scarlet soldier, he promised soon should fall,
For those, his gallant comrades, who died in wild Emall.

Version from the collections of Manus O’Connor, 1901.

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