The Young Rebel

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The sun is setting behind the range,
His golden rays pour down
On a little figure, childish and strange,
Bending over a volume worn,
Whose green-clad cover, dusty and torn,
Bears a ‘harp without a crown.”

The young eyes turn to the distant west,
Where the sunset colours glow,
And thoughts are thrilling the childish breast
Of a gallant, valorous deeds long done,
Of glorious battles fought and won
In the days of long ago.

His fancy peoples the lonely glen
With the ghosts of the vanished past,
Till he hears the tramp of armed men,
And O’Niall’s plumed horsemen ride
While the ‘Red Hand’ flutters in all its pride
Above them on the blast.

And, just where the road winds into the creek
Where the jasmine stars the shade,
With the soft winds kissing her blushing cheek,
Beautiful grey-eyed Dierdre stands
Stretching to Naisi her snowy hands-
Half-welcoming, half-dismayed.

The purple hues of the gully change
With the deepening shades of night,
And, far in the nook of the distant range,
Is Michael Dwyer, of the Wicklow glen,
Holding his desperate stand again,
‘Gainst the redcoat soldier’s might.

The west wind rises across the creek,
And with it the crash of steel
Carries a flush to the listeners cheek-
‘Tis only the crash of the branches dry,
But in it he hears the battle-cry,
And the patriots’ words of zeal.

And martyred shades come thronging around,
To the roll-call of Liberty:
Louder their eager voices sound,
Till towering tree-tops and glowing sky
Are echoing back the defiant cry—
“Michael! Answer for me!”

The moon is rising beyond the creek,
The shining stars look down
On a little dreamer, whose pillowed cheek
Rest, in sleep on a volume worn,
Whose green-glad cover, dusty and town,
Bears a ‘harp without a crown.’

© Alice Guerin Crist