The Song of O'Ruark, Prince of Breffni*

Melody - "The Pretty Girl milking her Cow"

Thomas Moore, from Irish Melodies, vol. 5

The valley lay smiling before me,
Where lately I left her behind;
Yet I trembled, and something hung o'er me,
That sadden'd the joy of my mind.
I look'd for the lamp which, she told me,
Should shine when her Pilgrim return'd;
But, though darkness began to infold me,
No lamp from the battlements burn'd!

2. I flew to her chamber - 'twas lonely,
As if the loved tenant lay dead;
Ah, would it were death, and death only!
But no, the young false one had fled.
And there hung the lute that could soften
My very worst pains into bliss;
While the hand that had waked it so often
Now throbb'd to a proud rival's kiss.

3. There was a time, falsest of women,
When Breffni's good sword would have sought
That man, through a million of foemen,
Who dared but to wrong thee in thought!
While now - oh degenerate daughter
Of Erin, how fallen is thy fame!
And through ages of bondage and slaughter,
Our country shall bleed for thy shame.

4. Already the curse is upon her,
And strangers her valleys profane;
They come to divide, to dishonour,
And tyrants they long will remain.
But onward! - the green banner rearing,
Go, flesh every sword to the hilt;
On our side is Virtue and Erin,
On theirs is the Saxon and Guilt.

* These stanzas are founded upon an event of most melancholy importance for Ireland, if, as we are told by our Irish historians, it gave England the first opportunity of profiting by our divisions and subduing us. The following are the circumstances, as related by O'Halloran: - "The king of Leinster had long conceived a violent affection for Bearbhorgil, daughter to the king of Meath, and though she had been for some time married to O'Ruark, prince of Breffni, yet it could not restrain his passion. They carried on a private correspondence, and she informed him that O'Ruark intended soon to go on a pilgrimage (an act of piety frequent in those days), and conjured him to embrace that opportunity of conveying her from her husband she detested to a lover she adored. Mac Murchad too puntually obeyed the summons, and had the lady conveyed to his capital of Ferns." - The monarch Roderick espoused the cause of O'Ruark, while Mac Murchad fled to England, and obtained the assistance of Henry II.

"Such," adds Giraldus Cambrensis (as I find him in an old translation), "is the variable and fickle nature of woman, by whom all mischief in the world (for the most part) do happen and come, as may appear by Marcus Antonius, and by the destruction of Troy." - from Irish Melodies.

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