“Lament for the Death of Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill” by Thomas Davis

“Did they dare, did they dare, to slay Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill?”
“Yes, they slew with poison him they feared to meet with steel.”
“May God wither up their hearts! May their blood cease to flow,”
May they walk in living death, who poisoned Eoghan Ruadh.”

Though it break my heart to hear, say again the bitter words.”
“From Derry, against Cromwell, he marched to measure swords:
But the weapon of the Sacsanach met him on his way.
And he died at Clogh Uachtar, upon St. Leonard’s day.

“Wail, wail ye for the Mighty One!—Wail, wail ye for the Dead!
Quench the hearth, and hold the breath—with ashes strew the head.
How tenderly we loved him. How deeply we deplore!
Holy Saviour! But to think we shall never see him more.”

“Sagest in the council was he, kindest in the hall!
Sure we never won a battle—”twas Owen won them all.
Had he lived—had he lived—our dear country had been free;
But he’s dead, but he’s dead, and ’tis slaves we’ll ever be.”

“O’Farrell and Clanricarde, Preston and Red Hugh,
Audley and MacMahon, ye valiant, wises and true;
But—what, what are ye all doing to our darling who is gone?
The Rudder of our Ship was he, our Castle’s corner stone.”

“Wail, wail him through the Island! Weep, weep for our pride!
Would that on the battle-field our gallant chief had died!
Weep the Victor of Beann-bhorbh—weep him, young men and old;
Weep for him, ye women—your beautiful lies cold!”

We thought you would not die—we were sure you would not go,
And leave us in out utmost need to Cromwell’s cruel blow—
Sheep without a shepherd, when the snow shuts our the sky—
O! why did you leave us, Eoghan? Why did you die?”

“Soft as woman’s was your voice, O’Neill! Bright was your eye,
O! why did you leave us, Eoghan? Why did you die?
Your troubles are all over, you’re at rest with God on high,
But we’re slaves, and we’re orphans, Eoghan!—why didst thou die?

Thomas Davis, a strong proponent of Irish nationalism, writes about the death of Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill in “Lament for the Death of Eoghan Ruadh O’Neill.” Davis begins by seething over the death of such a powerful leader: “Did they dare […] May God wither up their hearts! May their blood cease to flow!” A patriotic Irishman, O’Neill’s aided efforts against English Protestant presence in Ireland. Davis valorizes O’Neill’s selfless resistance to Oliver Cromwell, alluding to O’Neill’s death “at Cloch Uachtar, upon St. Leonard’s day” (8), yet fears that because of his death, the remaining nationalists will be “slaves” (16) to unrepentant English forces. Davis laments to the deceased O’Neill saying, “We thought you would not die […]/And leave us in our utmost need to Cromwell’s cruel blow” (25-26). With his “we” (25), Davis suggests camaraderie and widespread Irish nationalist sentiment in the wake of O’Neill’s death. The poem never strays from a dark, heavily remorseful tone, and Davis never fails to point out O’Neill’s death as the primary source of sorrow in the country.

Nineteenth century Irish poet Thomas Osborne Davis  was a revolutionary nationalist and a primary figure of the Young Ireland movement. He also co-founded The Nation newspaper and championed harmony between Catholics and Protestants.

The biographical information was found at poemhunter.com. The poem can be found on Google Books.


maddieMaddie Thorpe has twice served as a Shenandoah intern, once as Poem of the Week Editor and once as Social Networking Editor.  She is from Southern California and will take a degree in English from Washington and Lee in spring of 2014.

“Dressing Down, 1962” by Lesley Wheeler

“Shalom,” called the pink-shirted man in the Oceanic
Terminal of Heathrow, and I snapped,
“I do not want to talk to you.” Manic

with fear, I extended one pointy-tipped shoe, tapped
the message home. My cases bulged with the wrong
clothes, every outfit trimmed with clipped

English, fit for telephone jobs on Long
Island. Rwanda, Algeria, and me
declaring every kind of independence.

My skirt and I were green, not the pretty
pistachio that Jacqueline Kennedy wore,
but the color copper develops in the sea,

cold and unfortunate, the green of storms
that have never squalled before. My hat,
gloves, and I were pale, not plush like the warm

blonde women settling in their seats
and bubbling dipthongs to their husbands;
not even poignant, like the champagne satin

that Marilyn Monroe was buried in.
Just neutral, stale as a biscuit, off
as an old cup of milk. I was stubborn,

I would do what I said and leave
England. I would ride that El Al jet, mystery
novel in hand and never grieve.

Johnny Carson, The Jetsons, and me.
A new wardrobe in cartoon hues. Meanwhile,
my row-mate slipped off her court shoes, free

toes wiggling in hose. “We all went to Israel,
almost all of us on the flight, and are returning
to South Carolina,” she explained in a drawl

that frightened me more that the turbofan
wailing beneath us. In her sundress, her stomach
looked soft. Ungirdled? Does everyone chat with a twang,

even the Jews? I do not want to talk,
but here I am, midair. “Coffee,” I replied
to the hostess, slowly. I will never wear slacks,

but I can unfasten each word, open it wide.

Continue reading ““Dressing Down, 1962” by Lesley Wheeler”


maddieMaddie Thorpe has twice served as a Shenandoah intern, once as Poem of the Week Editor and once as Social Networking Editor.  She is from Southern California and will take a degree in English from Washington and Lee in spring of 2014.

To Althea, From Prison

by Richard Lovelace

Continue reading “To Althea, From Prison”


maddieMaddie Thorpe has twice served as a Shenandoah intern, once as Poem of the Week Editor and once as Social Networking Editor.  She is from Southern California and will take a degree in English from Washington and Lee in spring of 2014.

Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat

‘Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dy’d
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima reclin’d,
Gaz’d on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declar’d;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw, and purr’d applause.

Still had she gaz’d; but midst the tide
Two beauteous forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour’s Tyrian hue,
Through richest purple, to the view,
Betray’d a golden gleam.

The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretch’d, in vain, to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat’s averse to fish?

Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch’d, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulph between;
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil’d.)
The slippery verge her feet beguil’d;
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood,
She mew’d to every watery God,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stir’d:
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A favourite has no friend.

From hence, ye beauties, undeceiv’d,
Know, one false step is ne’er retriev’d,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all, that glisters, gold.

“Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat” first appeared in Dodsley’s Collection of Poems (1748), and was edited for 1753, the same text that is printed in Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology.  Thomas Gray based this ode on the cat that belonged to his friend, Harry Walpole.  In the poem, Gray offers a hyperbolic description of the cat, who stares at a tub of goldfish in the first stanza.  The feline has a “snowy beard,” and “ears of jet, and emerald eyes” as well as “velvet paws.”  This lofty characterization dramatizes the ode as mock-heroic, alluding to Greek heroes and tales to describe a simple tabby cat.  Gray also compares the cat to Eve, Selima, and Helen of Troy.  The cat seems to be narcissistic and proud, especially as it gazes at the tub, just as Eve stared at her reflection in Paradise Lost.  From a contemporary sensibility, Gray’s comparisons seem sexist and even misogynistic.  When  the cat attempts to snatch a goldfish, her downfall is imminent and she slips into the tub.  The ode serves as a tale of caution: “one false step is ne’er retriev’d” and “nor all, glisters, gold.”  Sometimes, just one incautious misstep is all it takes.  Gray also uses the cat to warn against female pride: “what female heart can gold despise?”  In life, not everything that we are tempted by is fair game, a hard lesson that the cat learns in her tragic fall.

The works of Thomas Gray were first published in book-seller Robert Dodsley’s Collection of Poems in 1748.  The publication of Thomas Gray’s Elegy in 1751 launched the poet into literary fame.  In 1757, Odes was published, featuring poems written in the Pindaric form.  Gray retired at the age of forty.

The biographical information was found in Eighteenth-Century Poetry: The Annotated Anthology.


maddieMaddie Thorpe has twice served as a Shenandoah intern, once as Poem of the Week Editor and once as Social Networking Editor.  She is from Southern California and will take a degree in English from Washington and Lee in spring of 2014.

“Sentry” by Brendan Galvin

Thistle, you look like another
of evolution’s jokes, impossible
as a great blue heron seems
impossible, though you both
are brilliant survivors.

Still, mixed metaphor,
it looks like someone
hung you all over with
shaving brushes nobody
soft-handed could wield,

then loaded one of those
salad shooters they
used to hawk on TV
and fired green sickles
and scimitars at you,

until, sentry at my door,
you look like a gallowglass
loyal to no one but your own
stickle-backed containment.

I dubbed you Captain Barfoot,
though I know from long
acquaintance that a change
of air will turn you to a mentor

white and silken, proof
that the pilgrim in us all
must cede his spines
and hackers to endure.


“Sentry” first appeared in Shenandoah Volume 61, Number 1 and will be featured in his next collection, The Air’s Accomplices.  The poem begins as a pastoral meditation on the wonders of the natural world, describing the simple thistle and elegant heron as equally “impossible” and “brilliant survivors” through time and evolution.  However, Galvin directly addresses the thistle as “another of evolution’s jokes” and makes the thistle the focus of the piece.  After the first stanza, the poem uses humor to discuss the plant, describing its appearance in terms of human grooming tools and as if manipulated by swords and “salad shooters.”  Eventually the thistle will become “white and silken” when the seasons change, evidence of the “pilgrim” spirit in humanity and nature alike.  “Sentry'” cannot be dismissed as simply another nature poem.  Galvin’s message is that any living thing, whether people or plants, must adapt and change to last in nature.  He presents this theme of adaptability and its necessity in a humorous way, linking the human and natural worlds.

Brendan Galvin is the author of sixteen volumes of poems. His collection Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (LSU, 2006) was a finalist for the National Book Award. His crime novel, Wash-a-shores, is available on Amazon Kindle.  The Air’s Accomplices, a collection of new poems, is forthcoming from LSU Press.

The poem’s copyright remains with the author.


maddieMaddie Thorpe has twice served as a Shenandoah intern, once as Poem of the Week Editor and once as Social Networking Editor.  She is from Southern California and will take a degree in English from Washington and Lee in spring of 2014.