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Ballads of Peace in War   By: (1873-1937)

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By Michael Earls


Gray mist on the sea, And the night coming down, She stays with sorrow In a far town.

He goes the sea ways By channel lights dim, Her love, a true light, Watches for him.

They would be wedded On a fair yesterday, But the quick regiment Saw him away.

Gray mist in her eyes And the night coming down: He feels a prayer From a far town.

He goes the sea ways, The land lights are dim; She and an altar light Keep watch for him.


Along Virginia's wondering roads While armies hastened on, To Beauregard's great Southern host, Manassas fields upon, Came Colonel Smith's good regiment, Eager for Washington.

But Colonel Smith must halt his men In a dangerous delay, Though well he knows the countryside To the distant host of grey. He cannot join with Beauregard For Bull Run's bloody fray.

And does he halt for storm or ford, Or does he stay to dine? Say, No! but death will meet his men, Onward if moves the line: He dares not hurry to Beauregard, Not knowing the countersign.

Flashed in the sun his waving sword; "Who rides for me?" he cried, "And ask of the Chief the countersign, Upon a daring ride; Though never the lad come back again With the good that will betide.

"I will send a letter to Beauregard," The Colonel slowly said; "The bearer dies at the pickets' line, But the letter shall be read When the pickets find it for the Chief, In the brave hand of the dead."


"Ready I ride to the Chief for the sign," Said little Dan O'Shea, "Though never I come from the picket's line, But a faded suit of grey: Yet over my death will the road be safe, And the regiment march away."

"In a mother's name, I bless thee, lad," The Colonel drew him near: "But first in the name of God," said Dan, "And then is my mother's dear Her own good lips that taught me well, With the Cross of Christ no fear."

Quickly he rode by valley and hill, On to the outpost line, Till the pickets arise by wall and mound, And the levelled muskets shine; "Halt!" they cried, "count three to death, Or give us the countersign."

Lightly the lad leaped from his steed, No fear was in his sigh, But a mother's face and a home he loved Under an Irish sky: He made the Sign of the Cross and stood, Bravely he stood to die.

Lips in a prayer at the blessed Sign, And calmly he looked around, And wonder seized his waiting soul To hear no musket sound, But only the pickets calling to him, Heartily up the mound.

For this was the order of Beauregard Around his camp that day The Sign of the Cross was countersign, (And a blessing to Dan O'Shea) And the word came quick to Colonel Smith For the muster of the grey.


Turn from Kerry crossroads and leave the wooded dells, Take the mountain path and find where Tip O'Leary dwells; Tip O'Leary is the name, I sing it all day long, And every bird whose heart is wise will have it for a song.

Tip O'Leary keeps the lights of many lamps aglow, Little matters it to him the seasons come or go, Sure if spring is in the air his hedges are abloom, And fairy buds like candles shine across his garden room.

Roses in the June days are light the miles around, Tapers of the fuchsias move along the August ground, Sumachs light the flaming torches by October's grave And like the campfires on the hills the oaks and maples wave.

All the lights but only one die out when summer goes, One that Tip O'Leary keeps is brighter than the rose, Through the window comes the bloom on any winter night, And every sense goes wild to it, soft and sweet and bright... Continue reading book >>

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