Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A BALLAD OF ATHLONE; OR, HOW THEY BROKE DOWN THE BRIDGE, by AUBREY THOMAS DE VERE



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A BALLAD OF ATHLONE; OR, HOW THEY BROKE DOWN THE BRIDGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Does any man dream that a gael can fear?
Last Line: And the ten that shook bloody hands with death!
Subject(s): Shannon (River), Ireland; War


Does any man dream that a Gael can fear?
Of a thousand deeds let him learn but one!
The Shannon swept onward broad and clear,
Between the leaguers and broad Athlone.

"Break down the bridge!"--Six warriors rushed
Through the storm of shot and the storm of shell;
With late but certain victory flushed,
The grim Dutch gunners eyed them well.

They wrench'd at the planks 'mid a hail of fire:
They fell in death, their work half done:
The bridge stood fast; and nigh and nigher
The foe swarmed darkly, densely on.

"O, who for Erin will strike a stroke?
Who hurl yon planks where the waters roar?"
Six warriors forth from their comrades broke,
And flung them upon that brige once more.

Again at the rocking planks they dashed;
And four dropped dead; and two remained:
The huge beams groaned and the arch down-crashed;
Two stalwart swimmers the margin gained.

St. Ruth in his stirrups stood up, and cried,
"I have seen no deed like that in France!"
With a toss of his head, Sarsfield replied,
"They had luck, the dogs! 'Twas a merry chance!"

O many a year upon Shannon's side
They sang upon moor and they sang upon heath
Of the twain that breasted that raging tide,
And the ten that shook bloody hands with Death!





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