Category Archives: William Allingham

The Eviction by William Allingham

In early morning twilight, raw and chill,
Damp vapours brooding on the barren hill,
Through miles of mire in steady grave array
Threescore well-arm’d police pursue their way;
Each tall and bearded man a rifle swings,
And under each greatcoat a bayonet clings:
The Sheriff on his sturdy cob astride
Talks with the chief, who marches by their side,
And, creeping on behind them, Paudeen Dhu
Pretends his needful duty much to rue.
Six big-boned labourers, clad in common freize,
Walk in the midst, the Sheriff’s staunch allies;
Six crowbar men, from distant county brought, –
Orange, and glorying in their work, ’tis thought,
But wrongly,- churls of Catholics are they,
And merely hired at half a crown a day.
The hamlet clustering on its hill is seen,
A score of petty homesteads, dark and mean;
Poor always, not despairing until now;
Long used, as well as poverty knows how,
With life’s oppressive trifles to contend.
This day will bring its history to an end.
Moveless and grim against the cottage walls
Lean a few silent men: but someone calls
Far off; and then a child ‘without a stitch’
Runs out of doors, flies back with piercing screech,
And soon from house to house is heard the cry
Of female sorrow, swelling loud and high,
Which makes the men blaspheme between their teeth.
Meanwhile, o’er fence and watery field beneath,
The little army moves through drizzling rain;
A ‘Crowbar’ leads the Sheriff’s nag; the lane
Is enter’d, and their plashing tramp draws near,
One instant, outcry holds its breath to hear
“Halt!” – at the doors they form in double line,
And ranks of polish’d rifles wetly shine.
The Sheriff’s painful duty must be done;
He begs for quiet-and the work’s begun.
The strong stand ready; now appear the rest,
Girl, matron, grandsire, baby on the breast,
And Rosy’s thin face on a pallet borne;
A motley concourse, feeble and forlorn.
One old man, tears upon his wrinkled cheek,
Stands trembling on a threshold, tries to speak,
But, in defect of any word for this,
Mutely upon the doorpost prints a kiss,
Then passes out for ever. Through the crowd
The children run bewilder’d, wailing loud;
Where needed most, the men combine their aid;
And, last of all, is Oona forth convey’d,
Reclined in her accustom’d strawen chair,
Her aged eyelids closed, her thick white hair
Escaping from her cap; she feels the chill,
Looks round and murmurs, then again is still.
Now bring the remnants of each household fire;
On the wet ground the hissing coals expire;
And Paudeen Dhu, with meekly dismal face,
Receives the full possession of the place.


Written by William Allingham.

The Eviction

The Fairies by William Allingham

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
‘To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.


Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Robin Redbreast by William Allingham

Good-bye, good-bye to Summer,
For Summer’s nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun;
Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away-
But Robin’s here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.


Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they’ll turn to Ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough,
It’s Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
‘Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin, Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And welaway! my Robin,
For pinching times are near.

The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow-
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And ‘a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.

Written by William Allingham.

Down on the Shore by William Allingham

Down on the shore, on the sunny shore!
Where the salt smell cheers the land;
Where the tide moves bright under boundless light,
And the surge on the glittering strand;
Where the children wade in the shallow pools,
Or run from the froth in play;
Where the swift little boats with milk-white wings
Are crossing the sapphire bay,
And the ship in full sail, with a fortunate gale,
Holds proudy on her way;
Where the nets are spread on the grass to dry,
And asleep, hard by, the fishermen lie,
Under the tent of the warm blue sky,
With the hushing wave on its golden floor
To sing their lullaby.


Down on the shore, on the stormy shore!
Beset by a growling sea,
Whose mad waves leap on the rocky steep
Like wolves up a traveller’s tree;
Where the foam flies wide, and an angry blast
Blows the curlew off, with a screech;
Where the brown sea-wrack, torn up by the roots,
Is flung out of fishes’ reach;
And the tall ship rolls on the hidden shoals,
And scatters her planks on the beach;
Where slate and straw through the village spin,
And a cottage fronts the fiercest din
With a sailor’s wife sitting sad within,
Hearkening the wind and the water’s roar,
Till at last her tears begin.

A Seed by William Allingham

See how a Seed, which Autumn flung down,
And through the Winter neglected lay,
Uncoils two little green leaves and two brown,
With tiny root taking hold on the clay
As, lifting and strengthening day by day,
It pushes red branchless, sprouts new leaves,
And cell after cell the Power in it weaves
Out of the storehouse of soil and clime,
To fashion a Tree in due course of time;
Tree with rough bark and boughs’ expansion,
Whhere the Crow can build his mansion,
Or a Man, in some new May,
Lie under whispering leaves and say,
“Are the ills of one’s life so very bad
When a Green Tree makes me deliciously glad?”
As I do now. But where shall I be
When this little Seed is a tall green Tree?


Late Autumn by William Allingham

October – and the skies are cool and gray
O’er stubbles emptied of their latest sheaf,
Bare meadow, and the slowly falling leaf.
The dignity of woods in rich decay
Accords full well with this majestic grief
That clothes our solemn purple hills to-day,
Whose afternoon is hush’d, and wintry brief
Only a robin sings from any spray.


And night sends up her pale cold moon, and spills
White mist around the hollows of the hills,
Phantoms of firth or lake; the peasant sees
His cot and stockyard, with the homestead trees,
Islanded; but no foolish terror thrills
His perfect harvesting; he sleeps at ease.

Abbey Assaroe by William Allingham

Gray, gray is Abbey Assaroe, by Belashanny town,
It has neither door nor window, the walls are broken down;
The carven-stones lie scatter’d in briar and nettle-bed!
The only feet are those that come at burial of the dead.
A little rocky rivulet runs murmuring to the tide,
Singing a song of ancient days, in sorrow, not in pride;
The boortree and the lightsome ash across the portal grow,
And heaven itself is now the roof of Abbey Assaroe.


It looks beyond the harbour-stream to Gulban mountain blue;
It hears the voice of Erna’s fall – Atlantic breakers too;
High ships go sailing past it; the sturdy clank of oars
Brings in the salmon-boat to haul a net upon the shores;
And this way to his home-creek, when the summer day is done,
Slow sculls the weary fisherman across the setting sun;
While green with corn is Sheegus Hill, his cottage white below;
But gray at every season is Abbey Assaroe.

There stood one day a poor old man above its broken bridge;
He heard no running rivulet, he saw no mountain-ridge;
He turn’d his back on Sheegus Hill, and view’d with misty sight
The Abbey walls, the burial-ground with crosses ghostly white;
Under a weary weight of years he bow’d upon his staff,
Perusing in the present time the former’s epitaph;
For, gray and wasted like the walls, a figure full of woe,
This man was of the blood of them who founded Assaroe.

From Derry to Bundrowas Tower, Tirconnell broad was theirs;
Spearmen and plunder, bards and wine, and holy Abbot’s prayers;
With chanting always in the house which they had builded high
To God and to Saint Bernard – where at last they came to die.
At worst, no workhouse grave for him! the ruins of his race
Shall rest among the ruin’d stones of this their saintly place.
The fond old man was weeping; and tremulous and slow
Along the rough and crooked lane he crept from Assaroe.

Adieu to Belshanny by William Allingham

Adieu to Belshanny! where I was bred and born;
Go where I may, I’ll think of you, as sure as night and morn.
The kindly spot, the friendly town, where every one is known,
And not a face in all the place but partly seems my own;
There’s not a house or window, there’s not a field or hill,
But, east or west, in foreign lands, I recollect them still.
I leave my warm heart with you, tho’ my back I’m forced to turn –
Adieu to Belashanny, and the winding banks of Erne!


No more on pleasant evenings we’ll saunter down the Mall,
When the trout is rising to the fly, the salmon to the fall.
The boat comes straining on her net, and heavily she creeps,
Cast off, cast off – she feels the oars, and to her berth she sweeps;
Now fore and aft keep hauling, and gathering up the clew.
Till a silver wave of salmon rolls in among the crew.
Then they may sit, with pipes a-lit, and many a joke and ‘ yarn ‘-
Adieu to Belashanny; and the winding banks of Erne!

The music of the waterfall, the mirror of the tide,
When all the green-hill’d harbour is full from side to side,
From Portnasun to Bulliebawns, and round the Abbey Bay,
From rocky inis saimer to Coolnargit sand-hills gray;
While far upon the southern line, to guard it like a wall,
The Leitrim mountains clothed in blue gaze calmly over all,
And watch the ship sail up or down, the red flag at her stern-
Adieu to these, adieu to all the winding banks of Erne!

Farewell to you, Kildoney lads, and them that pull on oar,
A lug-sail set, or haul a net, from the Point to Mullaghmore;
From Killybegs to bold Slieve-League, that ocean-Mountain steep,
Six hundred yards in air aloft, six hundred in the deep,
From Dooran to the Fairy Bridge, and round by Tullen Strand,
Level and long, and white with waves, where gull and Curlew stand;
Head out to sea when on your lee the breakers you Discern!
Adieu to all the billowy coast, and winding banks ofErne!

Farewell, Coolmore – Bundoran! And your summercrowds that run
From inland homes to see with joy th’Atlantic-setting sun;
To breathe the buoyant salted air, and sport among the waves;
To gather shells on sandy beach, and tempt the gloomy caves;
To watch the flowing, ebbing tide, the boats, the crabs, The fish;
Young men and maids to meet and smile, and form a tender wish;
The sick and old in search of health, for all things have their turn –
And I must quit my native shore, and the winding banks of Erne!

Farewell to every white cascade from the Harbour to Belleek)
And every pool where fins may rest, and ivy-shaded creek;
The sloping fields, the lofty rocks, where ash and holly grow,
The one split yew-tree gazing on the curving flood below;
The Lough, that winds through islands under Turaw mountain green;
And Castle Caldwell’s stretching woods, with tranquil bays between;
And Breesie Hill, and many a pond among the heath and fern –
For I must say adieu-adieu to the winding banks of Erne!

The thrush will call through Camlin groves the live- long summer day;
The waters run by mossy cliff, and banks with wild flowers gay;
The girls will bring their work and sing beneath a twisted thorn,
Or stray with sweethearts down the path among growing corn;
Along the river-side they go, where I have often been,
O never shall I see again the days that I have seen!
A thousand chances are to one I never may return –
Adieu to Belashanny, and the winding banks of Erne!

Adieu to evening dances, when merry neighbours meet,
And the fiddle says to boys and girls, “Get up shake your feet!”
To ‘shanachus’ and wise old talk of Erin’s gone by –
Who trench’d the rath on such a hill, and where the bones may lie
Of saint, or king, or warrior chief; with tales of fairy power,
And tender ditties sweetly sung to pass the twilight hour.
The mournful song of exile is now for me to learn –
Adieu, my dear companions on the winding banks of Erne!

Now measure from the Commons down to each end of the Purt,
Round the Abbey, Moy, and Knather – I wish no one any hurt;
The Main Street, Back Street, College Lane, the Mall,and Portnasun,
If any foes of mine are there, I pardon every one.
I hope that man and womankind will do the same by me;
For my heart is sore and heavy at voyaging the sea.
My loving friends I’ll bear in mind, and often fondly turn
To think of Belashanny, and the winding banks of Erne.

If ever I’m a money’d man, I mean, please God, to cast
My golden anchor in the place where youthful years were pass’d;
Though heads that now are black and brown must meanwhile gather gray,
New faces rise by every hearth, and old ones drop away –
Yet dearer still that Irish hill than all the world beside;
It’s home, sweet home, where’er I roam, through lands and waters wide.
And if the Lord allows me, I surely will return
To my native Belashanny, and the winding banks of Erne.

These Little Songs by William Allingham

These little Songs,
Found here and there,
Floating in air
By forest and lea,
Or hill-side heather,
In houses and throngs,
Or down by the sea –
Have come together,
How, I can’t tell:
But I know full well
No witty goose-wing
On an inkstand begot ’em;
Remember each place
And moment of grace,
In summer or spring,
Winter or autumn
By sun, moon, stars,
Or a coal in the bars,
In market or church,
Graveyard or dance,
When they came without search,
Were found as by chance.
A word, a line,
You may say are mine;
But the best in the songs,
Whatever it be,
To you, and to me,
And to no one belongs.


Written by William Allingham.