Category Archives: William Allingham

A Gravestone by William Allingham

Far from the churchyard dig his grave,
On some green mound beside the wave;
To westward, sea and sky alone,
And sunsets. Put a mossy stone,
With mortal name and date, a harp
And bunch of wild flowers, carven sharp;
Then leave it free to winds that blow,
And patient mosses creeping; slow,
And wandering wings, and footsteps rare
Of human creature pausing there.


Aeolian Harp by William Allingham

O pale green sea,
With long, pale, purple clouds above –
What lies in me like weight of love ?
What dies in me
With utter grief, because there comes no sign
Through the sun-raying West, or the dim sea-line ?


O salted air,
Blown round the rocky headland still,
What calls me there from cove and hill?
What calls me fair
From thee, the first-born of the youthful night,
Or in the waves is coming through the dusk twilight ?

O yellow Star,
Quivering upon the rippling tide –
Sendest so far to one that sigh’d?
Bendest thou, Star,
Above, where the shadows of the dead have rest
And constant silence, with a message from the blest?

The Touchstone by William Allingham

A man there came, whence none could tell,
Bearing a Touchstone in his hand;
And tested all things in the land
By its unerring spell.


Quick birth of transmutation smote
The fair to foul, the foul to fair;
Purple nor ermine did he spare,
Nor scorn the dusty coat.

Of heirloom jewels, prized so much,
Were many changed to chips and clods,
And even statues of the Gods
Crumbled beneath its touch.

Then angrily the people cried,
“The loss outweighs the profit far;
Our goods suffice us as they are
We will not have then tried.”

And since they could not so prevail
To check this unrelenting guest,
They seized him, saying – “Let him test
How real it is, our jail!”

But, though they slew him with the sword,
And in a fire his Touchstone burn’d,
Its doings could not be o’erturned,
Its undoings restored.

And when to stop all future harm,
They strew’d its ashes on the breeze;
They little guess’d each grain of these
Convey’d the perfect charm.

North, south, in rings and amulets,
Throughout the crowded world ’tis borne;
Which, as a fashion long outworn,
In ancient mind forgets.

Written by William Allingham.

From Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland by William Allingham

Joining Sir Ulick’s at the river’s bend,
Lord Crashton’s acres east and west extend;
Great owner here, in England greater still.
As poor folk say, ‘The world’s divided ill.’
On every pleasure men can buy with gold
He surfeited; and now, diseased and old,
He lives abroad; a firm in Molesworth Street
Doing what their attorneyship thinks meet.
The rule of seventy properties have they.
Wide waves the meadow on a summer day,
Far spread the sheep across the swelling hill,
And horns and hooves the daisied pasture fill;
A stout and high enclosure girdles all,
Built up with stones from many a cottage wall;
And, thanks to Phinn and Wedgely’s thrifty pains,
Not one unsightly ruin there remains.
Phinn comes half-yearly, sometimes with a friend,
Who writes to Mail or Warder to commend
These vast improvements, and bestows the term
Of ‘Ireland’s benefactors’ on the firm,
A well-earn’d title, in the firm’s own mind.
Twice only in the memory of mankind
Lord Crashton’s proud and noble self appear’d;
Up-river, last time, in his yacht he steer’d,
With Maltese valet and Parisian cook,
And one on whom askance the gentry look,
Altho’ a pretty, well-dress’d demoiselle –
Not Lady Crashton, who, as gossips tell,
Goes her own wicked way. They stopp’d a week;
Then, with gay ribbons fluttering from the peak,
And snowy skirts spread wide, on either hand
The Aphrodite curtsied to the land,
And glided off. My Lord, with gouty legs,
Drinks Baden-Baden water, and life’s dregs,
With cynic jest inlays his black despair,
And curses all things from his easy chair.


Lord Crashton: The Absentee Landlord

A Dream by William Allingham

I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night;
I went to the window to see the sight;
All the Dead that ever I knew
Going one by one and two by two.


On they pass’d, and on they pass’d;
Townsfellows all, from first to last;
Born in the moonlight of the lane,
Quench’d in the heavy shadow again.

Schoolmates, marching as when they play’d
At soldiers once – but now more staid;
Those were the strangest sight to me
Who were drown’d, I knew, in the awful sea.

Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too;
Some that I loved, and gasp’d to speak to;
Some but a day in their churchyard bed;
Some that I had not known were dead.

A long, long crowd – where each seem’d lonely,
Yet of them all there was one, one only,
Raised a head or look’d my way;
She linger’d a moment – she might not stay.

How long since I saw that fair pale face!
Ah! Mother dear! might I only place
My head on thy breast, a moment to rest,
While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest!

On, on, a moving bridge they made
Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade,
Young and old, women and men;
Many long-forgot, but remembered then,

And first there came a bitter laughter;
A sound of tears a moment after;
And then a music so lofty and gay,
That eve morning, day by day,
I strive to recall it if I may.

The Lepracaun or Fairy Shoemaker by William Allingham

Little Cowboy, what have you heard,
Up on the lonely rath’s green mound?
Only the plaintive yellow bird
Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee! –
Only the grasshopper and the bee? –
“Tip-tap, rip-rap,
Tick-a-tack-too!
Scarlet leather, sewn together,
This will make a shoe.
Left, right, pull it tight;
Summer days are warm;
Underground in winter,
Laughing at the storm!”
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer.
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?
He’s a span
And a quarter in height,
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
And you’re a made Man!


You watch your cattle the summerday,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
how would you like to roll in your carriage,
Look for a duchess’s daughter in marriage?
Seize the shoemaker – then you may!
“Big boots a -hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we makea shoe;
Getting rich every stitch,
Tick-a-tack too!”
Nine and ninety treasure crocks
This keen miser fairy hath,
Hid in the mountains, woods and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow’r, cave and rath,
And where cormorants build;
From times of old
Guarded by him;
Each of them fill’d
Full to the brim
With gold!

I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle ditch where fox-glove grows, –
A wrinkled, wizen’d and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron – shoe in his lap –
‘Rip-rap, tip-tap,
Tick-tack-too!
(A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince,
Brogues for his son –
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done!”
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him, he stared at me;
“Servant Sir!” “Humph” says he,
And pull’d a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look’d better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer’d the box with a whimsical grace, –
Pouf! He flung the dust in my face,
And while I sneezed,
Was gone!

Written by William Allingham.

Wayside Flowers by William Allingham

Pluck not the wayside flower,
It is the traveller’s dower;
A thousand passers-by
Its beauties may espy,
May win a touch of blessing
From Nature’s mild caressing.
The sad of heart perceives
A violet under leaves
Like sonic fresh-budding hope;
The primrose on the slope
A spot of sunshine dwells,
And cheerful message tells
Of kind renewing power;
The nodding bluebell’s dye
Is drawn from happy sky.
Then spare the wayside flower!
It is the traveller’s dower.


Written by William Allingham.

The Little Dell by William Allingham

Doleful was the land,
Dull on, every side,
Neither soft n’or grand,
Barren, bleak, and wide;
Nothing look’d with love;
All was dingy brown;
The very skies above
Seem’d to sulk and frown.


Plodding sick and sad,
Weary day on day;
Searching, never glad,
Many a miry way;
Poor existence lagg’d
In this barren place;
While the seasons dragg’d
Slowly o’er its face.

Spring, to sky and ground,
Came before I guess’d;
Then one day I found
A valley, like a nest!
Guarded with a spell
Sure it must have been,
This little fairy dell
Which I had never seen.

Open to the blue,
Green banks hemm’d it round
A rillet wander’d through
With a tinkling sound;
Briars among the rocks
Tangled arbours made;
Primroses in flocks
Grew beneath their shade.

Merry birds a few,
Creatures wildly tame,
Perch’d and sung and flew;
Timid field-mice came;
Beetles in the moss
Journey’d here and there;
Butterflies across
Danced through sunlit air.

There I often read,
Sung alone, or dream’d;
Blossoms overhead,
Where the west wind stream’d;
Small horizon-line,
Smoothly lifted up,
Held this world of mine
In a grassy cup.

The barren land to-day
Hears my last adieu:
Not an hour I stay;
Earth is wide and new.
Yet, farewell, farewell!
May the sun and show’rs
Bless that Little Dell

Written by William Allingham.

The Boy by William Allingham

The Boy from his bedroom-window
Look’d over the little town,
And away to the bleak black upland
Under a clouded moon.


The moon came forth from her cavern,
He saw the sudden gleam
Of a tarn in the swarthy moorland;
Or perhaps the whole was a dream.

For I never could find that water
In all my walks and rides:
Far-off, in the Land of Memory,
That midnight pool abides.

Many fine things had I glimpse of,
And said, “I shall.find them one day.”
Whether within or without me
They were, I cannot say.

Written by William Allingham.