Where is my chief, my master, this bleak night, mavrone?
O cold, cold, miserably cold is this bleak night for Hugh!
Its showery, arrowy, speary sleet pierceth one thro' and thro',
Pierceth one to the very bone.
Rolls real thunder? Or was that red vivid light
Only a meteor? I scarce know; but through the midnight dim
The pitiless ice-wind streams. Except the hate that persecutes him,
Nothing hath crueler venomy might.
An awful, a tremendous night is this, meseems!
The flood-gates of the rivers of heaven, I think, have been burst wide;
Down from the overcharged clouds, like to headlong ocean's tide,
Descends grey rain in roaring streams.
Tho' he were even a wolf ranging the round green woods,
Tho' he were even a pleasant salmon in the unchainable sea,
Tho' he were a wild mountain eagle, he could scarce bear, he,
This sharp sore sleet, these howling floods.
O mournful is my soul this night for Hugh Maguire!
Darkly as in a dream he strays. Before him and behind
Triumphs the tyrannous anger of the wounding wind,
The wounding wind that burns as fire.
It is my bitter grief, it cuts me to the heart
That in the country of Clan Darry this should be his fate!
O woe is me, where is he? Wandering, houseless, desolate,
Alone, without or guide or chart!
Medreams I see just now his face, the strawberry-bright,
Uplifted to the blackened heavens, while the tempestuous winds
Blow fiercely over and round him, and the smiting sleetshower blinds
The hero of Galang to-night!
Large, large affliction unto me and mine it is
That one of his majestic bearing, his fair stately form,
Should thus be tortured and o'erborne; that this unsparing storm
Should wreak its wrath on head like his!
That his great hand, so oft the avenger of the oppressed,
Should this chill churlish night, perchance, be paralysed by frost;
While through some icicle-hung thicket, as one lorn and lost,
He walks and wanders without rest.
The tempest-driven torrent deluges the mead,
It overflows the low banks of the rivulets and ponds;
The lawns and pasture-grounds lie locked in icy bonds,
So that the cattle cannot feed.
The pale-bright margins of the streams are seen by none;
Rushes and sweeps along the untamable flood on every side;
It penetrates and fills the cottagers' dwellings far and wide;
Water and land are blent in one.
Through some dark woods, 'mid bones of monsters, Hugh now strays,
As he confronts the storm with anguished heart, but manly brow,
O what a sword-wound to that tender heart of his, were now
A backward glance at peaceful days!
But other thoughts are his, thoughts that can still inspire
With joy and onward-bounding hope the bosom of MacNee;
Thoughts of his warriors charging like bright billows of the sea,
Borne on the wind's wings, flashing fire!
And tho' frost glaze to-night the clear dew of his eyes,
And white ice-gauntlets glove his noble fine fair fingers o'er,
A warm dress is to him that lightning-garb he ever wore,
The lightning of his soul, not skies.
Hugh marched forth to fight: I grieved to see him so depart.
And lo ! to-night he wanders frozen, rain-drenched, sad betrayed;
But the memory of the lime-white mansions his right hand hath laid
In ashes, warms the hero's heart!
Translated by James Clarence Mangan
The writer of this poem was O' Hussey, the bard of the Maguires.
Eochadh O'Hussey, who was one of the most distinguished poets of his time.
Hugh Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh, was with Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell in the war that came at the end of Elizabeth's reign.
The poet laments the disaster of his Munster campaign.
Says Dr. Hyde in his "Literary History," "when it is remembered that O'Hussey composed this poem in the most difficult and artificial of metres, the Deibhidh,
… it will be seen how much Mangan has gained by his free and untrammelled metre, and what technical difficulties fettered O'Hussey's art, and lent glory to his triumph over them.