John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

A Savage Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly


DIXON, a Choctaw, twenty years of age,
Had killed a miner in a Leadville brawl;
Tried and condemned, the rough-beards curb their rage,
And watch him stride in freedom from the hall.

'Return on Friday, to be shot to death!'
So ran the sentence—it was Monday night.
The dead man's comrades drew a well-pleased breath;
Then all night long the gambling dens were bright.

The days sped slowly; but the Friday came,
And flocked the miners to the shooting-ground;
They chose six riflemen of deadly aim,
And with low voices sat and lounged around.

'He will not come.' 'He's not a fool.' 'The men
Who set the savage free must face the blame.'
A Choctaw brave smiled bitterly, and then
Smiled proudly, with raised head, as Dixon came.

Silent and stern—a woman at his heels;
He motions to the brave, who stays her tread.
Next minute—flame the guns: the woman reels
And drops without a moan—Dixon is dead.

Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012

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