He was born in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ireland, and was the son of the manager of a local bank who was of English descent. He obtained a post in the custom-house of his native town and held several similar posts in Ireland and England until 1870, when he had retired from the service, and became sub-editor of Fraser's Magazine, which he edited from 1874 to 1879, in succession to James Froude. He had published a volume of Poems in 1850, followed by Day and Night Songs, a volume containing many charming lyrics, in 1855.
Allingham was on terms of close friendship with DG Rossetti, who contributed to the illustration of the Songs. His Letters to Allingham (1854-1870) were edited by... more »
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William Allingham Poems
Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men;
See how a Seed, which Autumn flung down, And through the Winter neglected lay, Uncoils two little green leaves and two brown, With tiny root taking hold on the clay
Four ducks on a pond, A grass-bank beyond, A blue sky of spring, White clouds on the wing;
Far from the churchyard dig his grave, On some green mound beside the wave; To westward, sea and sky alone, And sunsets. Put a mossy stone,
A Day-Dream's Reflection
Chequer'd with woven shadows as I lay Among the grass, blinking the watery gleam, I saw an Echo-Spirit in his bay Most idly floating in the noontide beam.
I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night; I went to the window to see the sight; All the Dead that ever I knew Going one by one and two by two.
The Boy from his bedroom-window Look'd over the little town, And away to the bleak black upland Under a clouded moon.
In early morning twilight, raw and chill, Damp vapours brooding on the barren hill, Through miles of mire in steady grave array Threescore well-arm'd police pursue their way;
Down on the Shore
Down on the shore, on the sunny shore! Where the salt smell cheers the land; Where the tide moves bright under boundless light, And the surge on the glittering strand;
O English mother, in the ruddy glow Hugging your baby closer when outside You see the silent, soft, and cruel snow Falling again, and think what ills betide
The Lepracaun or Fairy Shoemaker
Little Cowboy, what have you heard, Up on the lonely rath's green mound? Only the plaintive yellow bird Sighing in sultry fields around,
I thought it was the little bed I slept in long ago; A straight white curtain at the head, And two smooth knobs below.
Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods, And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt, And night by night the monitory blast Wails in the key-hold, telling how it pass'd
That which he did not feel, he would not sing; What most he felt, religion it was to hide In a dumb darkling grotto, where the spring Of tremulous tears, arising unespied,
Quotationsmore quotations »
''History of Irelandlawlessness and turbulency, robbery and oppression, hatred and revenge, blind selfishness everywhereno principle, no heroism. What can be done with it?''William Allingham (1824-1889), Irish poet, diarist. A Diary, ch. 8, entry for Nov. 11, 1866, eds. H. Allingham and D. Radford (1907).
Comments about William Allingham
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Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white ...