The following poem was published in the Freeman’s Journal in 1898 and was signed ‘Galtee More’.
The Outcast Irish Girl
Mirth was in old Limerick City on a mellow summer even,
Sounds of laughter and of music float along the twilight air ;
Down the fragrant moonlight streameth from the azure cheeks of heaven,
And the stars in stillness glitter with a light divinely fair.
Laughter on the crowded footway, where the slaves of fashion wander —
Laughter in the shaded gardens and the tall browed palace hall —
Laughter — ha ! what spectral figure crouches in the shadows yonder ?
What’s that object, fairest lady, leaning ‘gainst thy trellised wall?
There’s a cold sneer on her lip, and her jewelled brow is arching
With the scorn of a spirit that mocks at human woe,
And her eyes gaze on unheeding at the myriads thickly marching.
Ay, that outcast Irish beggar— -what of her has she to know ?
She is flesh and blood — what say you ? Thou hast riches, rank, and splendour,
Servants bowing to thy bidding, proud ones kneeling at thy feet :
Soft that mantle on thy shoulders, and thy cushioned seat is tender ;
Then what care you for a sister lying starving in the street ?
Ten, eleven — how the hours pass away — like flashes flying.
Where the devil holds the doorway, holds the password and the key !
Ten, eleven — ah ! how slowly to that gentle maiden dying ?
None to fling the dew of pity on her frenzied agony.
Twelve ! A tramp upon the side-path — ‘ Off, away ! no place for sleeping —
Off, away!’ the watchman, crieth in the calmness of the night;
And she totters slowly, weakly, with her eyelids scorched with weeping;,
And a brow of whiter marble never faced the broad moonlight !
I have seen that brow of marble in a glow -of health and beauty.
Where the Shannon ripples softly near historic Garryowen,
Where the tall hills nurse the streamlets with a mother’s love and duty,
As they wander ever plashing oyer beds of amber stone.
And those eyes, now red and burning, then were kindly, soft and. loving ;
And those brown locks danced as freely as the breeze that shook them free ;
And those feet tripped o’er the heather swiftly as the young hare roving ;
And those pale lips were -the reddest from that river to the sea.
But a cloud spread o’er the landscape, and a heart in desolation
Echoed the farewell parting of its last, last tenant gone :
She was parted from the lone graves of her kindred and her nation —
Like a waif she drifted onward, in a stranger land, alone.
Tell no tales, oh, dismal river ! do not whisper out that story :
Oh, that story ! that dark story ! hush it in the deepest wave,
Or the mother that once nursed her, and the father old and hoary,
Would arise to curse Britannia from the low depths of the grave.
Still the palace hall is laden with its freight of gold and pearl,
Still the jewelled lady gazeth with a haughty look of pride ;
While the broken-hearted outcast, that weak, starving Irish girl,
Floats away into the ocean on the river’s moonlit tide.