Alice Guerin Crist (6 February 1876 - 13 June 1941 / Clare Castle)
Oh my heart beat high with joy elate,
When Danny rode in the Hunters’ Plate
On Enniskillen, the raking grey-
A mighty jumper, with power to stay!
Velvet muzzled, with eye of fire,
Clean-legged, slant –shouldered, and tough as wire,
Oh, the joy that can fill a colleen’s breast,
When her man and horse are dong their best!
The summer skies were without a cloud
O’er the heads of the frantic, cheering crowd,
As he led the field right into the straight,
And his eyes met mine, at the five-barred gate.
Then they thundered by, like a roaring flood,
And oh, good luck to the Irish blood!
The Irish blood that in horse or man
Has never ‘caved in’ since the world began.
He took the last leap, like a bird in the air,
Clearing the hurdle, straight and fair,
And Enniskillen won!
We’d been married for one long blissful year
Of hope and struggle, of joy and fear;
Our hearts were young, and our hopes were high,
And the star of love shone bright in our sky.
And I felt like a queen as I hushed to rest
The little bright head that lay on my breast;
But the air was stifling close and strange
With a scent of smoke from the burning range,
And I prayed for Danny, riding away
On a cattle hunt, on the gallant grey—
The smoke came down like a cloud of night,
And ranges and trees were blotted from sight,
When Enniskillen came galloping home,
His grey coat mottled and flecked with foam,
And Danny’s face was rigid and white,
“Come Sweetheart, we ride for our lives to-night;
Wrap this cloak around you, hold Baby fast,
And pray, till the danger be overpassed,
For the wind has arisen with whirling force,
And our lives depend on the dear, grey horse.
And on God’s good mercy.” – A streak of light,
Enniskillen went racing into the night
The dim stars peered from a reeling sky,
And wild bush creatures came rushing by;
As crash on crash the timber fell,
And the burning wind was a blast of hell.
But Danny held me with steady arm,
And the Babe, between us, slept safe from harm.
We were nearly through, and the battle won,
When Danny drew rein with “Ah God! – We’re done!”
For before us the flames met roaring wide,
Though safety lay on the other side,
One moment, a tremble, the grey horse stood,
Then oh, thank God for the Irish blood,
The Irish blood that in horse and man
Has never ‘ caved in’ since the world began!
With a snort of defiance to smoke and flame,
Through the raging furnace the grey horse came,
Though laboured sobs shook his trembling side,
And falling cinders scorched his hide,
And Enniskillen won!
The grass is waving on hill and plain,
And peace and plenty are here again;
Our little home rebuilt once more,
And the lean struggling year are o’er.
There’s a paddock green on the river flat,
Where a dear grey horse roams strong ans fat,
Though on his back the scars still show,
Deep scars where never a hair can grow.
But still he holds his head with pride,
And treads the earth with a kingly stride,
Proud of his Irish blood!
Comments about this poem (Enniskillen by Alice Guerin Crist )
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