Monday, December 19, 2011

Retribution - Robert E. Howard

The moon above the Kerry hills
had risen scare a span
When we went forth from Knocknaroe
to card a Saxon man.
We stretched him naked on the ditch―
God save this soul of mine!
The howls of him as hard we dragged
the cats along his spine.

A great, full-bodied man he was,
that beat poor Tom O'Rourke,
The hardest English landlord now,
from Donegal to Cork.
'Twas, "Damn you eyes! Pay rent or starve!
Get out with all your brats!"
But, faith, the howling of him now
was louder than the cats.

It's maybe he remembered then,
the swelling Saxon toad,
How he evicted Biddy Flynn
to die beside the road.
I hope that he remembered, too,
the while the tomcats clung,
My cousin Mike O'Flaherly
his testimony hung.

He cursed the king in agony
and damned the penal laws―
Oh, quite a different man he was
beneath those ripping claws.

His squealing dwindled to a moan,
his back was bloody beef;
We flung him in the thorny ditch
like, any common thief.

The mist was stealing from the sea,
the night was strange and still.
We heard him weeping like a child
as we went down the hill.
And then, above out oaths and jests,
there sounded from the wood
A cry so wild and sweet and sad
it chained us where we stood.
Some nightbird rended by an owl―
I felt black sorrow rise;
I turned to speak to Dermod Shea,
and tears were in his eyes.

3.5 out of 5