Mary Maguire Colum: Irish Woman Poet

Mary Maguire (1887 – 1957) was born in Fermanagh, attended secondary school in the Netherlands and studied at the National University in Dublin. She is best-known as a critic, but Dirge of the Lone Woman was included in Anthology of Irish Verse, edited by here husband Padraic Colum in 1948 and was reprinted as a broadside by the Dolmon Press the year after her death.

Dirge of the Lone Woman
AS WE entered by that door
We saw the lights a-flame —
A-flame on your bier,
On the bier of you
Who had loved many a one,
Loved many a one!
Then I said to your love,
To her, your latest love,
‘There’s his last room,
His final roof-tree
Who has lived in many a one,
In many a one.
‘A tree never more
Grows to shield him
From the bitter cold and rain,
From the blighting light of love
Which ends many a one —
Ends many a one.
‘There’s his last tree;
You’re his last love:
The new bud in bloom,
The new fruit of the flower
He’ll give to no other one,
To no other one!’
Then they raised up your bier,
They quenched the laggard flame,
And they walked and they walked,
They walked you to the grave,
Where ends many a one —
Ends many a one.
We watched the mould fall
On your last roof-tree;
Then she went on her way
With a rose in her hair,
And I alone with no other one —
With no other one!



Mary Louisa Boyle: Irish Woman Poet

NPG x1391; Mary Louisa Boyle by Henry RiggeMary Louisa Boyle (1810 – 1890) was born into the family of the Earl of Cork and Orrery. She was friends with Dickens, Browning and Landor and published widely in verse and prose. The Bride of Melcha; a Dramatic Poem was published in London in 1884.

Scene I. — Room in the King’s Palace,
Enter Feargus and his Sister.
Feargus. And trust me so far, sister, in my place
You ‘d feel as I do — act as I have done.
The heart, whose beats are measured in your breast,
Would flutter, stop, and then begin to knock
Against its prison walls, and cry so loud
‘Twould drown the feebler accents of your lips,
Did they essay to speak, ‘mid such a din.
The will that would surmount all obstacles —
The mind that would o’errule the destiny —
Ay, that same eagerness which dances now
In thy dark eye, and plays around thy lip —
Believe me, Mora, all would be subdued,
Deadened, and overpowered by such a presence.
Mora. No, by my troth! — by every hope I hold
Of peace and freedom to the land I love,
Were I a man, a lover as thou art,
I ‘d work another way: I ‘d gain her heart
With vows of faith, devotion, and the like —
With praises of her beauty — which in vain
You waste upon the wind, that does not care
To waft them to her ear — with half the tales
You lavish on your sister. Night and morn
I ‘d haunt her path: I ‘d stand beside her door
To bid her sleep in peace, or wake in joy:
And when the envious walls concealed her form,
My voice should follow though my steps were checked.
Or I would send melodious messages
Of love — of hopeful, daring, dauntless love!
Fear. Yet tell me, Mora, hast thou never read, —
When for a few short years thy eager mood
Was curbed and guided by the sisterhood
Of Holy Oswald, — hast thou never read
Some sacred legend of a spotless maid,
Whose innocence and purity were spells
To bind, and to unloose? Beneath whose gaze
The powers of earth fell down, and were dismayed —
Before whose modest speech the babbling tongue
Of eloquence was mute, while pious awe
And silent wonder filled the minds of men!

Ellen Beck: Irish Woman Poet

Ellen Beck (1858-1924) was born and lived her life in The Rock, Tyrone, where she served as a school teacher. She published poems and prose sketches under the name Magdalen Rock in The Irish Monthly and in anthologies of religious verse.

7TH OCTOBER, 1571.

A thickening cloud of smoke the sun looked through,
And frenzied cries were heard and moan and prayer;
And standards old and royal ensigns flew
From all the lands of Southern Europe there;
Fluttering they flew, fanned by the noon-day breeze,
From galleys tall and stately argosies.
But though proud Austria’s flag, blue as the sky,
Waved with the flags of Venice and of Spain,
Triumphantly the Crescent floated high,
And Christian blood was poured, and poured in vain
Upon Lepanto’s waters ; ’till at last
Colonna cried, ‘The foes are gaining fast.’
But at that hour, the holy Pontiff prayed
In distant Rome beside our Lady’s shrine,
And begged the Queen of Heaven’s potent aid
For those who bravely fought beneath the Sign
Of man’s redemption ‘gainst the Infidel,
To save the Church her dear Son loved so well.
And lo, the Christian ranks fresh courage found
E’en as the holy Pontiff’s prayer arose,
And brave Colonna’s hopes with sudden bound
Revived again, and man to man the foes
Tought till the Crescent fell. Since that blest day
To her, the Help of Christians, oft we pray.

Rebecca Scott: Irish Woman Poet

Rebecca Scott was born into a Donegal family of weaving factory owners. She published two volumes of poetry, A Glimpse of Spring (Dublin, 1870) and  Echoes from Tyrconnel (Derry, 1880).

I cannot tell if ever love
Has dwelt within this wayward breast,
But if he did, he has not been
A frequent nor abiding guest.
But once, I dreamt a gorgeous dream
Of some far off delightsome land;
Wherein a tall majestic form
Moved by my side and held my hand,
And mingling with the joyous strains
Of myriad birds, from countless trees.
Of cooing doves, and murmuring brooks.
And soft, harmonious hum of bees,
The sammer zephyr’s soft sweet sigh,
The dancing fountains tinkling fall,
Came the clear accents of a voice,
More dear, more musical, than all.
And from a cloudless, deep blue sky
A glorious summer sun beamed fair.
And luscious fruits, and fadeless flowers,
And rich, resplendent gems were there:
A land of deep, bewildering bliss.
Of light, and melody, and bloom.
Whose every scene was loveliness.
Whose zephyrs’ odorous with perfume.
But brighter, dearer, sweeter far
Than fadeless flowers and cloudless skies.
Than summer sun, or evening star.
Beamed forth the light of soft brown eyes.
And though that radiant dream has passed,
Since then has never ceased to shine
Upon my path the ‘wildering light
Of soft brown eyes resembling thine.
Though from my slumber rudely waked,
When thou art near me, still I seem
To see the tall, majestic form
That walked beside me in my dream.
And when upon my waking sense
The accents of thy sweet voice fall,
I seem to recognise the tones
Which made my dreamland musical.

Helen Lanyon: Irish Woman Poet

Little is known of Helen Lanyon’s life. Her father Charles was an architect and mayor of Belfast and the family home was in Antrim. She was friends with the Duffin sisters and Emma Duffin illustrated here book Fairy Led and Other Verses (1915). She also published Hill o’ Dreams and Other Vesses (1907) and What the Kind Wind Said (nd).

My grief! for the days that’s by an’ done.
When I was a young girl straight an’ tall,
Comin’ alone at set o’ sun,
Up the high hill road from Cushendall.
I thought the miles no hardship then,
Nor the long road weary to the feet,
For the thrushes sang in the deep green glen,
An’ the evenin’ air was cool an’ sweet.
My head with many a thought was throng.
And many a dream as I never told.
My heart would lift as a wee bird’s song.
Or at seein’ a whin bush crowned with gold.
And always I’d look back at the say.
Or the turn o’ the road shut out the sight
Of the long waves curlin’ into the bay
An’ breakin’ in foam where the sands is white.
I was married young on a dacent man,
As many would call a prudent choice.
But he never could hear how the river ran
Singin’ a song in a changin’ voice,
Nor thought to see on the bay’s blue wather
A ship with yellow sails unfurled,
Bearin’ away a King’s young daughter
Over the brim of the heavin’ world.
The way seems weary now to my feet,
An’ miles bes many, an’ dreams bes few,
The evenin’ air’s not near so sweet,
The birds don’t sing as they used to do.
An’ I’m that tired at the top o’ the hill,
That I haven’t the heart to turn at all.
To watch the curlin’ breakers fill
The wee round bay at Cushendall.