The Eviction by William Allingham

  1. 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;
    Each tall and bearded man a rifle swings,
    And under each greatcoat a bayonet clings:
    The Sheriff on his sturdy cob astride
    Talks with the chief, who marches by their side,
    And, creeping on behind them, Paudeen Dhu
    Pretends his needful duty much to rue.
    Six big-boned labourers, clad in common freize,
    Walk in the midst, the Sheriff’s staunch allies;
    Six crowbar men, from distant county brought,—
    Orange, and glorying in their work, ’tis thought,                                                                  But wrongly—churls of Catholics are they,
    And merely hired at half a crown a day.
  2. The hamlet clustering on its hill is seen,
    A score of petty homesteads, dark and mean;
    Poor always, not despairing until now;
    Long used, as well as poverty knows how,
    With life’s oppressive trifles to contend.
    This day will bring its history to an end.
    Moveless and grim against the cottage walls
    Lean a few silent men: but someone calls
    Far off; and then a child ‘without a stitch’
    Runs out of doors, flies back with piercing screech,
    And soon from house to house is heard the cry
    Of female sorrow, swelling loud and high,
    Which makes the men blaspheme between their teeth.
    Meanwhile, o’er fence and watery field beneath,
    The little army moves through drizzling rain;
    A ‘Crowbar’ leads the Sheriff’s nag; the lane
    Is enter’d, and their plashing tramp draws near,
    One instant, outcry holds its breath to hear
    ‘Halt!’— at the doors they form in double line,
    And ranks of polish’d rifles wetly shine.
  3. The Sheriff’s painful duty must be done;
    He begs for quiet—and the work’s begun.
    The strong stand ready; now appear the rest,
    Girl, matron, grandsire, baby on the breast,

    And Rosy’s thin face on a pallet borne;
    A motley concourse, feeble and forlorn.
    One old man, tears upon his wrinkled cheek,
    Stands trembling on a threshold, tries to speak,
    But, in defect of any word for this,
    Mutely upon the doorpost prints a kiss,
    Then passes out for ever. Through the crowd
    The children run bewilder’d, wailing loud;
    Where needed most, the men combine their aid;
    And, last of all, is Oona forth convey’d,
    Reclined in her accustom’d strawen chair,
    Her aged eyelids closed, her thick white hair
    Escaping from her cap; she feels the chill,
    Looks round and murmurs, then again is still.
    Now bring the remnants of each household fire;
    On the wet ground the hissing coals expire;
    And Paudeen Dhu, with meekly dismal face,
    Receives the full possession of the place.

  4. Whereon the Sheriff, ‘We have legal hold
    Return to the shelter with the sick and old.
    Time shall be given; and there are carts below
    If any to the workhouse choose to go’.
    A young man makes him answer, grave and clear,
    ‘We’re thankful to you! but there’s no one here
    Goin’ back into them houses: do your part.
    Nor we won’t trouble Pigot’s horse and cart.’
    At which name, rushing into the open space,
    A woman flings a hood from off her face,

    Falls on her knees upon the miry ground,
    Lifts hands and eyes, and voice of thrilling sound,—
    ‘James Pigot!—may the poor man’s curse pursue,
    The widow’s and the orphan’s curse, I pray,
    Hang heavy round you at your dying day!’
    Breathless and fix’d one moment stands the crowd
    To hear this malediction fierce and loud.

  5. But now (our neighbour Neal is busy there)
    On steady poles he lifted Oona’s chair,
    Well-heap’d with borrow’d mantles; gently bear
    The sick girl in her litter, bed and all;
    Whilst others hug the children weak and small
    In careful arms, or hoist them pick-a-back;
    And, ‘midst the unrelenting clink and thwack
    Of iron bar on stone, let creep away
    The sad procession from that hill-side gray,
    Through the slow-falling rain. In three hours more
    You find, where Ballytullagh stood before,
    Mere shatter’d walls, and doors with useless latch,
    And firesides buried under fallen thatch.

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

Irish Writer Website: Twitter: @adunlea Facebook:
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