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THE LIBRARY
OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



t



In Vinculis.




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



1.1' i>'-:<



THE LARGE PAPER EDITION OF THIS
VOLUME, CONSISTING OF FIFTY COPIES,
ALL OF WHICH ARE NUMBERED AND
SIGNED, WAS PRINTED IN DECEMBER,
iS88.



This is No.



V/




X



^.^«t>"j






IN VINCULIS.



r




IN VINCULIS.



BY



WILFRID SCAWEN BLUNT,

AUTHOR OF " THE WIND AND THE WHIRLWIND,"

"the love sonnets of PROTEUS,"

ETC., ETC.




LONDON
KEG AN PAUL, TRENCH & CO.

MDCCCLXXXIX.






DEDICATION.

TO THE

PRIESTS AND PEASANTRY OF IRELAND,

WHO FOR

THREE HUNDRED YEARS

HAVE PRESERVED THE TRADITION OF A

RIGHTEOUS WAR

FOR

Faith and Freedom.



R1 'y-i ^^



PREFACE.

In dedicating these poems to the priests and
peasantry of Ireland, their author desires to
acknowledge his deep gratitude towards them, not
for their sympathy only, and this was great, but for
much else which, though difficult to express, will
l)e divined in their perusal.

The earliest of the pieces, those headed " In
Vinculis," were with a few exceptions actually
written (on the fly-leaves of the Author's prayer-
book) in Galway and Kilmainham gaols. The
rest were either designed in prison or composed in
connection with the events of the time. They
record an episode in the writer's life to which, in
spite of many austerities and some real .suffering,
he cannot look back otherwise than with affection.
Imprisonment is a reality of discipline most useful



viii PREFACE.

to the mcxlern soul, lapped as it is in physical sloth
and self-indulgence. Like a sickness or a spiritual
retreat it purifies and ennobles ; and the soul
emerges from it stronger and more self-contained.
Alas, that these influences should so soon lose their
power ! — And yet, fall as we may from the higher
level, they do not wholly perish, but remain for us
a wholesome recollection and a standard of all that
we can imagine best for this life and another.

W. S. B.

Crabbet Park, Sussex,

Oct. 23, 1888.



CONTENTS.

SONNETS PAGE

I. From Caiaphas to Pilate I was sent .... i

II. Naked I came into the world of pleasure . . 2

III. Honoured I lived erewhile with honoured men 3

IV. How shall I build my Temple to the Lord . . 4

v. A prison is a convent without God 5

VI. There are two voices with me in the night . . 6

VII. Long have I searched the earth for liberty . . 7
VIII. 'Tis time, my soul, thou should'st be purged of

pride S

IX. Behold the Court of Penance. Four gaunt

walls f)

X. My prison has its pleasures. Every day . . 10

XI. God knows, 'twas not with a fore-reasoned plan it
XII. There are wrongs done in the fair face of

heaven 12

XIII. To do some little good before I die . . . . i^

XIV. I thought to do a deed of chiv.^Iry 14

XV. Farewell, dark gaol. Vou hold some better

hearts iq

XVI. No, I will smile no more. If but for pride . . 16

Remember O'Brien 17

Poor Erin 22

The Canon of Aughrim 21;



"IN VINCULIS."
SONNETS

WRITTEN IN PRISON.
I.

From Caiaphas to Pilate I was sent,

Who judged with unwashed hands a crime to me.

Next came the sentence, and the soldiery
Claimed me their prey. Without, the people rent
With weeping voices the loud firmament.

And through the night from town to town
passed we

'Mid shouts and drums and stones hurled heavily
By angry crowds on love and murder bent.

And last the gaol — what stillness in these doors !

The silent turnkeys their last bolls have shot,
And their steps die in the long corridors.

I am alone. My tears run fast and hot.
Dear Lord, for Thy griefs sake I kiss these floors

Kneeling — then turn to sleep, dreams troublcnot.



IN VINCULIS.



II.

Naked I came into the world of pleasure,

And naked come I to this house of pain.
Here at the gate I lay down my life's treasure,

My pride, my garments and my name with men.

The world and I henceforth shall be as twain.
No sound of me shall pierce for good or ill

These walls of grief. Nor shall I hear the vain
Laughter and tears of those who love me still.

Within, what new life waits me ! Little ease,
Cold lying, hunger, nights of wakefulness,

Harsh orders given, no voice to soothe or please.
Poor thieves for friends, for books rules meaning-
less ;

This is the grave— nay, hell. Yet, Lord of Might,

Still in Thy light my spirit shall see light.



SONNETS.



III.

Honoured I lived erewhile with honoured men

In opulent state. My table nightly spread
Found guests of worth, peer, priest and citizen.

And poet crowned, and beauty garlanded.

Nor these alone, for hunger too I fed,
And many a lean tramp and sad Magdalen

Passed from my doors less hard for sake of bread.
Whom grudged I ever purse or hand or pen ?

To-night, unwelcomed at these gates of woe
I stand with churls, and there is none to greet

My weariness with smile or courtly show

Nor, though I hunger long, to bring me meat.

God ! what a little accident of gold

Fences our weakness from the wolves of old !



IN VINCULIS.



IV.

How shall I build my Temple to the Lord,

Unworthy I, who am thus foul of heart ?
How shall I worship who no traitor word

Know but of love to play a suppliant's part ?

How shall I pray, whose soul is as a mart
For thoughts unclean, whose tongue is as a sword

Even for those it loves to wound and smart ?
Behold how little I can help Thee, Lord.

The Temple I would build should all be white.
Each stone the record of a blameless day ;

The souls that entered there should walk in light.
Clothed in high chastity and wisely gay.

Lord, here is darkness— yet this heart unwise.

Bruised in Thy service, take in sacrifice.



SONNETS.



V.

A prison is a convent without God —

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience
Its precepts are. In this austere abode

None gather wealth of pleasure or of pence.

Woman's light wit, the heart's concupiscence
Are banished here. At the least warder's nod

Thy neck shall bend in mute subservience,
Nor yet for virtue — rather for the rod.

Here a base turnkey novice-master is.
Teaching humility. The matin bell
Calls thee to toil, but little comforteth.
None heed thy prayers or give the kiss of peace.
Nathless, my soul, be valiant. Even in Hell
Wisdom shall preach to thee of life and death.



IN VINCULIS.



VI.

There are two voices with me in the night,
Easing my grief. The God of Israel saith,
" I am the Lord thy God which vanquisheth.

' ' See that thou walk unswerving in my sight,
" So shall thy enemies thy footstool be.
" I will avenge." Then wake I suddenly,

And as a man new armoured for the fight,
I shout aloud against my enemy.

Anon, another speaks, a voice of care
With sorrow laden and akin to grief,

" My son," it saith, "What is my will with
thee ?
" The burden of my sorrows thou shalt share.
" With thieves thou too shalt be accounted thief,
"And in my kingdom thou shalt sup with me."



SONNETS.



VII.

Long have I searched the earth for hberty,

In desert places and lands far abroad,
^Vhere neither kings nor constables should be,

Nor any law of Man, alas, or God.

Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood,
These were my quarries, which eternally

Fled from my footsteps fast as I pursued.
Sad phantoms of desire by land and sea.

See, it is ended. Sick and overborne

By foes and fools, and my long chase, I lie-
Here, in these walls, with all life's souls forlorn

Herded I wait,— and in my ears the cry,
" Alas, poor brothers, equal in Man's scorn,
" And free in God's good liberty to die."



IN VINCULIS.



VIII.

'Tis time, my soul, thou should'st be purged of pride.

Wliat men are these with thee, whose ill deeds done
Make thee thus shrink from them and be denied ?

They are but as thou art, each mother's son

A convict in transgression — Here is one,
Sayest thou, who struck his fellow and he died.

And yet he weeps hot tears. Do thy tears run ?
This other thieved, yet clasps Christ crucified.

Where is thy greater virtue ? Thinkest thou sin
Is but crime's record on the judgment seat ?

Or must thou wait for death to be bowed down ?

Oh for a righteous reading which should join
Thy deeds together in an accusing sheet,

And leave thee if thou could'st, to face men's frown !



SONNETS.



IX.

Behold the Court of Penance. Four gaunt walls
Shutting out all things but the upper heaven.

Stone flags for floor, where daily from their stalls
The human cattle in a circle driven
Tread down their pathway to a mire uneven,

Pale-faced, sad-eyed, and mute as funerals.
Woe to the wretch whose weakness unforgiven

Falters a moment in the track or falls.

Yet is there consolation. Overhead

The pigeons build and the loud jackdaws talk.
And once in the wind's eye, like a ship moored,
A sea-gull flew and I was comforted.
Even here the heavens declare thy glory. Lord,

And the free firmament thy handiwork.



lo IN VINCULIS.



X.

My prison has its pleasures. Every clay

At breakfast-time, spare meal of milk and bread,
Sparrows come trooping in familiar way

With head aside beseeching to be fed.

A spider too for me has spun her thread
Across the prison rules, and a brave mouse

Watches in sympathy the warders' tread,
These two my fellow-prisoners in the house.

But about dusk in the rooms opposite
I see lamps lighted, and upon the blind

A shadow passes all the evening through.
It is the gaoler's daughter fair and kind

And full of pity — so I image it —

Till the stars rise, and night begins anew.



SONNETS. II



XI.

God knows, 'twas not with a fore-reasoned plan
I left the easeful dwellings of my peace,

And sought this combat with ungodly Man,
And ceaseless still through years that do not cease
Have warred with Powers and Principalities.

My natural soul, ere yet these strifes began,
Was as a sister diligent to please

And loving all, and most the human clan.

God knows it. And He knows how the world's tears
Touched me. And He is witness of my wrath.

How it was kindled against murderers
A\Tio slew for gold, and how upon their path

I met them. Since which day the World in arms

Strikes at my life with angers and alarms.



12 IN VINCULIS.



XII.

There are wrongs done in the fair face of heaven

Which cry aloud for vengeance, and shall cry ;
Loves beautiful in strength vifhose wit has striven

Vainly with loss and man's inconstancy ;

Dead children's faces watched by souls that die ;
Ture streams defiled ; fair forests idly riven ;

A nation, suppliant in its agony,
Calling on justice, and no help is given.

All these are pitiful. Yet, after tears,

Come rest and sleep and calm forgetfulness,

And Gods good providence consoles the years.
Only the coward heart which did not guess,

The dreamer of brave deeds that might have been.

Shall cureless ache with wounds for ever green.



SONNETS. 13



XIII.



To do some little good before I die ;

To wake some echoes to a loftier theme ;
To spend my life's last store of industry

On thoughts less vain than Youth's discordant

dream ;
To endow the world's grief with some counter-
scheme
Of logical hope which through all time should
lighten
The burden of men's sorrow and redeem
Their faces' paleness from the tears that whiten ;

To take my place in the world's brotherhood
As one prepared to suffer all its fate ;

To do and be undone for sake of good,
And conquer rage by giving love for hate ;

That were a noble dream, and so to cease,

Scorned by the proud but with the poor at peace.



14 IN VINCULIS.



XIV.

I thought to do a deed of chivalry,

An act of worth, which haply in her sight

Who was my mistress should recorded be
And of the nations. And, when thus the fight
Faltered and men once bold with faces white

Turned this and that way in excuse to flee,
I only stood, and by the foeman's might

Was overborne and mangled cruelly.

Then crawled I to her feet, in whose dear cause

I made this venture, and " behold," I said,
" How I am wounded for thee in these wars."
But she, " Poor cripple, would'st thou I should
wed
A limbless trunk?" and laughing turned from

me,
Yet was she fair, and her name " Liberty."



SONNETS. 15



XV.

Farewell, dark gaol. You hold some better hearts

Than in this savage world I thought to find.
I do not love you nor the fraudulent arts

By which men tutor men to ways unkind.

Your law is not my law, and yet my mind
Remains your debtor. It has learned to see

How dark a thing the earth would be and blind
But for the light of human charity.

I am your debtor thus and for the pang
^Vhich touched and chastened, and the nights of
thought

Which were my years of learning. See I hang
Your image here, a glory all unsought,

About my neck. Thus saints in symbol hold

Their tools of death and darings manifold.



1 6 IN VINCULIS.



XVI.

No, I will smile no more. If but for pride

And the high record of these days of pain,
I will not be as these, the uncrucified

Who idly live and find life's pleasures vain.

The garment of my life is rent in twain,
Parted by love and pity. Some have died

Of a less hurt than 'twas my luck to gain,
And live with God, nor dare I be denied.

No, I will smile no more. Love's touch of pleasure
Shall be as tears to me, fair words as gall.

The sun as blackness, friends as a false measure,
And Spring's blithe pageant on this earthly ball,

If it should brag, shall earn from mc no praise,

But silence only to my end of days.



REMEMBER O'BRIEN!

SONG FOR THE AUTUMN OF 1887.
I.

Ireland, wake ! your son lies bleeding,

Stricken through his love for you.
Wake ! arise ! and let your pleading
Wrap your shores in grief anew.
Scatter ashes on your head,
Ireland, for your living dead ;
Fire the beacon, fan the ember
Of your lost wrath, and remember
All the wrong of Clan-na-Gael,
And the man who lies in jail.
Wake ! Remember O'Brien !

II.
On his plank bed in the darkness,
He is laid who gave you light,
c



IS IN VINCULIS.

Crisped with cold and prison starkness
Is the hand your woes did write.
Dumb the lips are that your cause
Pleaded against human laws.
Here as on a bed of passion
Lies the martyr of your nation,
All his eloquence grown mute.
Ireland ! be your wrath afoot,
Rise ! Remember O'Brien !



III.

Be not idle in your daring ;
He nor idleness nor ease
Knew for you whose whole life's bearing
Told contempt for things that please.
What was pleasure to his heart ?
In your griefs to bear a part.
What his mirth ? To cheat your laughter
Of the tears Earth hungers after



REMEMBER aBRIEN! 19

With a word of wit or play.
Wliich of you dares laugh to-day ?
Nay ! Remember O'Brien !



IV.

Ireland ! plead before high heaven

For your saint upon his cross.
His the gain of wrongs forgiven,
Yours the pain is and the loss.
Prayers he hardly needs for sin
Who was blameless most of men ;
But for your own selfish meekness
Plead with heaven to nerve your weakness
For his sake and your right arm,
With the power of dealing harm.
Strike ! Remember O'Brien !

V.
Wave your banners, march in chorus,
Loud with passion, fierce with pain.



20 IN VINCULIS.

Let your trumpets ring sonorous
With the tramp of angry men.
Meet your judges face to face
In each street and market place ;
There to read in stern derision
Of their laws your high commission.
Ay, proclaim them, as is meet,
Outlaws at God's mercy seat.
Shout ! Remember O'Brien !



VI.

Bind them to a new transaction

For the man who with them lies ;
Their's was argument in action,
Action, too, be your replies.

They have willed it. Let there be
One campaign from sea to sea.
Lock your rents in your own coffers
And compel them to your offers.



REMEMBER O'BRIEN I 21

Stand out stiffly and unbent ;
Look ! each hedge lends argument.
Say, " Remember O'Brien !"

VII.

Patriots, rise ! take rank together.
Fight for God and tight for man ;

In the stormy autumn weather
Strike for freedom and the Plan.
Pie it was who taught you this,
Here your stoutest vengeance is.

Blackthorn blows for hours of trial,

And on gale day stern denial ;
Till your gaolers on their knees
Sign the order of release,
And kneel to William O'Brien.



22 IN VINCULIS.



POOR ERIN.

SONG FOR 1 888.

I.

Oh poor Erin 1 Alas poor Erin !

Where is the land with a fate like yours,
Blessed with a beauty to all endearing,

Cursed with a sorrow no fortune cures ?

II.
Oh poor Erin ! Alas poor Erin !

V.Hiat is the cause of your long distress ?
The hope of freedom forever nearing.

Forever fading to less and less.

nil
Oh poor Erin ! Alas poor Erin !

What have you done that men hate you so ?



POOR ERIN, 23

Vou have clung to your God while the rest des-
pairing
Bowed their souls in the house of woe.

IV.

Oh poor Erin ! Alas poor Erin !

Which are the traitors that brought you blame ?
The hireling shepherds that did your shearing

And sold your sheep to the land of shame.

V.
Oh poor Erin ! Alas poor Erin !

Which of your sons shall have served you best ?
The men that died for your sake unfearing

In prison fetters as felons dressed.

VI.

Oh poor Erin ! Poor faithful Erin !

When shall the day of your grief be past ?
When the mighty ocean shall bring you steering

To reap your bread on the waters cast.



24 IN VINCULIS.

VII.

Oh poor Erin ! No more poor Erin !

The hope in your bosom is green to-day,
The voice of the nations around you cheering,

Tells that your trouble is past away.

VIII.

Oh poor Erin ! All hail to Erin !

Revenge was sweet, but true love endures.
Behold your foeman in anguish rearing

A home of freedom forever yours.



THE CANON OF AUGIIRIM.

I.

You ask me of English honour, whether your
Nation is just ?
Justice for us is a word divine, a name we
revere —
Alas, no more than a name, a thing laid by in the
dust.
The world shall know it again, but not in this
month or year.

II.

Honour ? Oh no, you profane it. Justice ? What
words ! What deeds !
Look at the suppliant Earth with its living
burden of men.



26 IN VINCULIS.

Here and to llindostan the nations anil kings and
creeds
Praise your name as a god's, the god of their
children slain.

III.
Which of us doubts your justice ? It is not here
in the West,
After six hundred years of pitiless legal war,
The sons of our soil are in doubt. They know,
who have l)orne it, Ijest.
The world is famished for justice. You give us
a stone, your law.

IV.

These are its fruits. Vet, think you, the Ireland
where men weep
Once was a jubilant land and dear to the Saints
of God.
All you have made it to-day is a hell to conquer
and keep,
Yours by the right of the strongest hand, the
right of the rod.



THE CANON OF AUGHRIM. 27

V.

History tells the st(jr>- in signs deep writ on the

soil,
Plain and clear in indelible type both for fools

and wise.

Here is no need of books, of any expositor's

coil.

He who runs may read, and he may weep who

has eyes.



VI.

This is the plain of Aughrim, renowned in our
Irish story
Because of the blood that was shed, the last in
arms by our sons,
A fight in battle array, with more of gritf than of
glory.
Where as a Nation we died to dirge of your
English guns.



28 IN VINCULIS.

VII.

So the Chroniclers tell us, and turn in silence their
page,
Ending the fighting here. I tell you the Chroni-
clers lie.
Spite of the hush of the dead, the battle from age
to age
Flameson still through the land, and still at men's
hands men die.



via.
Look ! I will show you the footsteps of those who
have died at your hand,
Done to death by your law, alas, and not by the
sword,
Only their work remaining, a nation's track in
the sand,
Ridge and furrow of ancient fields half hid in
the sward.



THE CANON OF A UGH RIM. 29

IX.
Step by step they retreated. You fenced them
out with your Pale,
Back from township and city and cornland fair
by the Sea.
Waterford, Youghal and Wexford you took, and
the Golden Vale.
Tears were their portion assigned, — for you
their demesnes in fee.



X.

Back to the forest and bog. They shouldered
their spades like men,
Fought with the wolf and the rock and the
hunger which holds the hill.
Still new homesteads arose where fever lurked in
the fen.
Still your law was a sword that hunted and
dogged them still.



30 IN VINCULIS.

XI.

Magistrate, landlord, bailiff, process-server and

spy.

These were the dogs of your pack, which scented
the land's increase.
Vainly, like hares, they lay in the forms they had
fashioned to die.
Justice hunted them forth hy the hand of the
Justice of Peace.



XII.

Look at it closer, thus, and shading your eyes
with your hand.
Far as a bird could reach, to the utmost edge of
the plain,
What do you see but grass ! and what do you
understand }
Cattle that graze on the grass. — Alas, you have
looked in vain.



THE CANON OF A UGH RIM. 31

XIII.

See with my eyes. They are older than yours, but
more keen in their love.
See what I saw as a boy in the fields, as a priest
by the ways,
See what I saw in anger with angels watching
above
Hiding their faces loi shame in the day of the
terrible days.



XIV.

Horsemen and footmen and guns. They were
here. I have seen them, though some
Say that two hundred years have passed since
the battle was stilled.
Ay, and the ciy of the wounded, drowned by the
beat of the drum.
Did I not hear with my ears how it rose like the
wail of a child ?



32 IN VINCULIS.

XV.

I was a student then, a boy, in the days now for-
gotten,
When for our school-house the chapel must serve,
for our master the priest ;
Many a Latin theme have I scrawled on the altar-
rails rotten,
Thinking no more of the house of God than the
house of the least.



XVI.

Yet we were saints in Aughrim. An Eden the
plain then stood.
Covered with gardens round, a happy and holy
place,
Rich in the generations of those who had shed their
blood,
Bound to their faith by the martyr's bond and
the power of grace.



THE CANON OF AUG H RIM. 33

XVII.

They do us wrong who affirm the Irish people are
sad.
Sad we are in the lands afar, but not in our
home.
Oh, if you knew the gladness with which our
people are glad,
Well might you grieve for your own, the poor in
your towns of doom.



XVIII.

Here, God knows it, we hunger. But hunger, a

little, is well ;

Man with full stomach is proud, his heart is

shut to the poor.

Well, too, is persecution, since thus through its

sting we rebel.

Clinging yet more to our love and our hate in

the homes we adore.
* * « « »

D



34 /^ VINCULIS.

XIX.

Mine is a mission of peace, to save men's souls in
the world,
Not to make converts to Hell, for Ireland's sake
even, you say.
Why should I preach of rebellion, and hatred,
words impotent hurled
Each like a spear from the lips to strike whom
it lists in the fray ?



XX.

Hark. You shall hear it. This parish was mine.
I remember it all
Tilled in squares, like a chess-board, each house
and holding apai't.
Down where the nettles grow you may mark the
line of the wall
Bounding the chapel field where our dead lie
heart on heart.



THE CANON OF A UGH RIM. 35

XXI,

It was not the famine killed them. God knows in
that evil year
He pressed us a little hard, but he spared us our
lives and joy.
Only the old and weak were taken. The rest stood
clear,
Quit of their debt to Death. God struck, but
not to destroy.



xxu.

The wolves of the world were fiercer. The wolves

of the world to-day

Go in sheep's clothing all, with names that the

world applauds.

Nobody now draws sword or spear with intent to

slay.

Death is done with a sigh, and mercy tightens
the cords.



36 IN VINCULIS.

XXIII.

It was a woman did it. Her father, the lawyer
Blake,
Purchased the land for a song,— some say, or
less, for a debt
Owed by the former lord, a broken spendthrift
and rake —
And left it hers when he died with all he could
grip or get.



XXIV.

Timothy Blake was not loved. lie had too much
in his heart
Of the law of tenures, for love. No word men
spoke in his praise.
Yet, in his lawyer's way, and deeds and titles apart,
All were allowed to live who paid their rent in
his days.



THE CANON OF AUGHRIM. 37

XXV.

Little Miss Blake was his daughter. A pink-faced
school-girl she came
First from Dublin city to live in her father's
house,
She and her dogs and horses, unconscious of shame
or blame.
Who would have guessed her cruel with manners
meek as a mouse ?



XXVI.
Nothing in truth was further, or further seemed
from her heart,
Set as it was on pleasure and undisturbed with


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