Eithne Carberry: Irish Woman Poet

Ethna Carbery was the pen name of Anna Johnston (1866 – 1902). Carberry was a poet and journalist and wrote the well-known ballad Roddy McCorley. Johnson was born in Ballymena into a Fenian family and from an early age had work published in United Ireland, Young Ireland, the Nation. She married fellow-poet Séamus MacManus in 1901 and adopted her pen name to avoid confusion. She died a year later and MacManus oversaw the publication of her verse in a collection called The Four Winds of Eirinn, which appeared in 1906. The book contains both Roddy McCorley and the poem Invocation.


The steeds of the Black Wind race
Frost-shod and fleet,
Where you hide from my love your face,
And stay your feet:
In this rose-rimmed quiet glen
I bide, and pray
Through the star-filled gloom, and the day,
For your voice again.

The flames on my hearth leap red,
Each a slender spear,
My bosom awaits your head,
And to charm your ear
I have wonder-tales without end,
Fond words untold
Or the spell of a harp of gold,
As your wild moods tend.

Oh strong man! man of my love!
With eyes of dreams
Pools of the dusk where move
No starry gleams:
Come from your storm-girt tower,
Come to my side
And sweetly your sheath of pride
Shall break into flower.

When the arrow ends its flight
You will lonely grow
For a woman’s kiss in the night,
And her breast of snow:
You will reach your arms to the Dark,
And call and cry,
As the wingéd winds sweep by–
But no ear shall hark.


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