Daniel O’Rourke,

An Epic Poem, in Six Cantos.

Canto III.

The Eagle Plight.

ὄρνις γάρ οἱ ἐπῆλθε περησέμαι μεμαῶτι
αἰετὸς ὑψιπέτης
Iliad, M. 200
The Eagle, lord of earth and sea,
Stooped down to pay him fealty.
Wie Hogen rechts, wie flogen links
Gebirge, Bäum, und Pecken !
Wie flogen links, und rechts, und links
Die Dorfer, Stadt’ und Flecken.


Have any of my readers ever seen1
A grisly ghost, or goblin of the tomb,2
Or in calm midnight’s solemn silence been,3
Where these grim nothings fill the dreary gloom ?4

* We did receive a hoax, signed “ the holder of two respectable and responsible
situations ;” and we take this opportunity of requesting, that the wags of Cork will keep
their humbugging to themselves, and not put us to the expense of paying postage for
their jokes. Indeed we are astonished that so respectable a man as our able correspondent,
who, we half suspect, may be our own old friend, Mr Holt, meddles in these matters.
(I ask them all, from sixty to sixteen,5
From cheek of wrinkles to the cheek of bloom ;)6
If there be one, he’ll judge what terrors broke7
On Daniel’s soul, as thus the Eagle spoke :—8


Good-morrow, Dan ! from yon high mountain’s peak,9
Where I sat brooding o’er my unfledged young,10
I saw you here in sorrow : every shriek11
Of woe you utter’d, drops of pity wrung12
From out my heart ; and knowing every creek,13
And hole and corner, these dark wilds among,14
I’m come to help you homeward, if I can ;15
But tell me first, what brought you here, my man.”16


O Sir,” says Dan, “ I left my home, an’ please ye,17
To meet my neighbour, Paddy Blake, to-night,18
At our ould trysting place, the Mountain Daisy,19
With heart at ease, and spirits gay and light ;20
Ohone ! Ohone ! misfortunate and crazy,21
I drank raw brandy, and was bother’d quite ;22
And, ’pon my soul, I cannot tell quite clear,23
The how or why I find myself just here.”24


It is apparent,” quoth the Eagle strait,25
That you’ve been fuddled, Dan, and more’s the shame,26
To see a decent man of forty-eight,27
Stagger along, and lose the road he came ;28
Upon my word, ’twere well to let you wait,29
And bring your neighbours to behold your shame ;30
For of all vices on the earth, I think31
The worst consists in appetite for drink.32


I knew you once, Dan, when you’d shrink aghast,33
At sight of dram, or pint, or deadly noggin,34
When every saint’s and lady day you’d fast,35
And for your sins inflict the wholesome flogging ;36
I fear me much these goodly days are past,37
Since drink has stuck you (penance fit !) a bog in ;38
My friendly hints, I fear, will go for nought,39
If this night’s cooling will not lend you thought.40


However, as this bog is very wide,41
And you are still an honest sort of chap42
Have never robb’d birds’ nests, nor ever tied43
Cosses * to dogs or cats ;— I could, mayhap,44
If you mount up upon my back astride,45
Keep good look out, and shun the treach’rous nap,46
Bring you, if flight your senses don’t bewilder,47
Straight home to Judy and the little childer.”48


Dan listen’d as all culprits mostly do,49
More to the comfort than the good advice ;50
And after sobbing forth a sigh or two,51
Told his kind friend “ he’d mount him in a trice,52

* A cannister, or any other appendage tied to a dog’s tail, is called in Ireland a Coss.
Whether the word is pure English or not, I have not now time to enquire ; Dr E. D. Clarke
seems to think it is Latin, as he has observed it, he says, very frequently after peoples
names in inscriptions, as IMP. CAESAR COS. This is a learned and plausible conjec-
ture, and nearly as probable as Mr Galiffe’s proof of the derivation of the language of
Rome from that of Russia.
If he would promise, that in case he flew53
Too quick”—a pause— “ Old Nick would oft entice54
Men in the shape of birds and beasts, so I55
With him, (though Dan) no step to-night will fly.”56


But when around the bog he cast a glance,57
His home and fire, keen hunger and slow death,58
Across his mind, in quick succession dance ;59
He sickens, trembles and pants hard for breath,60
If could think,” (with bow and slight advance,)61
That you were not”—(a sly look underneath62
For cloven foot,) “ If I could think, I say,63
There’s no foul work, I’d gladly pelt away.”64


The Eagle, with a look of high disdain,65
Rustled his pinions loudly for the flight,66
Nor deigned one word in answer—’twas in vain67
For Dan to linger ; here, for many a night,68
Must he in chilling damp and cold remain,69
No living thing to cheer his aching sight,70
Unless he strode, a plan not quite en regle,71
The glossy back of this majestic Eagle.72


He groan’d assent. The bird stoop’d down in haste,73
And Dan began his saddle to. dispose74
His foot upon a master-feather placed,75
Mounted with care, and straigthen’d out his toes76
Clung close his knees, and heartily embraced77
The bird’s proud neck, e’er he to flight arose ;78
Then sticking both his heels into his side,79
He soared aloft—let good or ill betide80


Up, up into the sky, a glorious flight,81
In many an airy whirl the Eagle sped82
And gallant ’twere to see the grace and might83
With which the bird his sail-broad pinions spread,84
Cleaving, with feathery oar, the sea of light,85
Which all around the silver moon-beams shed ;86
While on his back bold Daniel clung as stiff87
As Sir Astolfo on his Hippogriff.88


I’ve often heard of spirits in the air,”89
Quoth Dan, “ but now I find ’tis all a lie ;90
Devil a drop can I see any where,91
To wet my lips that grow so hard and dry ;92
Stop, Mr Eagle, stop, for I declare93
Your journey now is over, if you’ll fly94
Down to that dunghill yonder, for I see95
My poor wife, Judy, looking out for me.”96


Away, away, my steed and I,” so sung97
Mazeppa’s chronicle ; but Arab steed,98
Nor that on which reluctant Gilpin hung,99
Could fly with so much vigour or such speed ;100
Now skimming strait, now darting up they sprung,101
As light as on the whirlwind floats the reed ;102
And as the bird still upward bravely flew,103
Poor Daniel’s Jude and dunghill fade from view.104

† Vid. Ariosto. By the way, Ariosto’s description of Astolpho’s journey to the moon
contains many unauthentic particulars, as I shall probably mention hereafter.


Oh ! stop, my Lord,” (he thought it best be mild)105
You’ve past my house, I tould you so before,106
Oh ! an’t I to be pitied ?— wife or child,107
Or home, or Daisy, I’ll ne’er visit more ;108
The bog was bad, but sure ’twould set one wild,109
To be brought here upon the clouds to soar ;110
Fly down, for God’s sake, down there upon Whiddy ;*111
I’ll surely fall, my head has grown so giddy.112


But answer came there none. The Eagle seemed113
Bent for some distant quarter of the sky,114
And well our luckless hero might have deem’d,115
That he to earthly things had bid good-bye ;116
For no one in their senses could have dream’d117
Of such a journey. Here Dan gave a sigh ;118
For now strait upward was the eagle speeding,119
His prayers and lamentations little heeding.120


Still on they fled ; and creature on the way,121
Living or lifeless, to be found was none,122
Except the Eagle and his rider ; they123
Pursued their airy voyage all alone ;124
But if the flight had happened in our day,125
They might perhaps in company have gone126
With Mr Wordsworth, who last year, I ween,127
In crescent boat on the same track was seen128


( You’ll find his flight described in Peter Bell,129
Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown,130
I own I like that poem passing well,131
Though by your wits ’tis laughed at and cried down.132
Cheer up, Great Poet, loud thy fame will swell,133
When thy detractors’ names shall be unknown,134
When all forgotten is the tiny crew,135
Who quiz thee in the Edinburgh Review.)136


Oh ! what a view ! how noble is the sight !137
Beneath them stretch’d the broad and rock girt bay,138
And broader ocean, sparkling with the light139
Of thousand stars, soon far behind them lay.140
Hungry’s† high head, and near it, dark as night,141
Glangariffe’s cliffs, and deep embowered way ;142
Oh ! Lord,” says Dan, “ unless my eyesight fail,143
Yonder’s the battery of ould Kinsale.”‡144


Soon earth, and sea, and mountain high were gone,145
Nought was below them but the scudding cloud,146
And still the bird was journeying gaily on,147
And Dan still wept his sad mishaps aloud ;148

* Whiddy, a handsome island in Bantry Bay.
† Hungry-hill, a most unpoetical, though not inappropriate name, for a high hill in
the south of the county of Cork.
‡ Charles Fort. A map of the country (as recommended by Sir Walter Scott in his
Lady of the Lake) would greatly assist the understanding of the exact bearing of the dif-
ferent places commemorated in this flight. It would appear that the road to the moon,
from Bantry, in the Eagle’s opinion, lay over Kinsale.
And higher as they fled, still brighter shone149
The queen of night in vestal lustre proud ;150
They near the moon ;— Now Dan indeed may quake,151
All hope is past ; his very eye-balls ache.152


And well they may, as round was light153
Intensely strong ;— and every spot of Heaven154
Sparkled and glitter’d in our hero’s sight,155
As tho’ to be a sun each star was given ;156
He saw the planets rolling on in bright157
And steady course,—(to one he counted seven158
Little round moons :) In short, with most ’twould pass,159
That the whole firmament was lit with gas.160


And here I’ll take upon me to cut short161
Our Eagle’s flight, for ’tis not my intention162
To weary out my readers, and extort163
Unwilling patience ; suffice it to mention,164
In course of time (the hour precise n’importe)165
He reached the moon, his limit of ascension ;166
I’m tir’d,” quoth he, and feel as if I’d swoon,167
So Dan dismount, and rest there on the moon.”168


And who the devil asked you, was it I,169
To tire yourself a flying thro’ the air ?170
Sit on the moon ! good Lord ! what, up so high171
To perch myself on that round body there !”172
Cease,” said the Eagle,” you had best comply,173
Or with one shake I’ll send you, I declare,174
Back to the earth, and falling, you will shatter,175
With mighty crash, your skull and bones to batter.”176


Stretch out your hand and throw your leg astride,177
I’ll leave you there a moment at the most,178
I sorely want to rest my weary side,179
Demur another second and your lost ;”180
Dan cursed him in his heart, but strait complied,181
Seated himself as upright as a post,182
And looked much like (astronomers may snarl)183
A jolly Bacchus on a full-bound barrel.184


He straddled as I said, and clasped it hard,185
In momentary terror of a fall,186
While the malicious bird, to fly prepared,187
And leave his rider on the lunar ball ;188
Quoth he, “ stay there until your brains are aired,189
I’ll hardly come to help you if you call ;190
You shot a chick of mine last year, so Dan,191
I think I now have paid you off—my man.”192


Away he fled, and left poor Daniel there,193
Cursing and praying very piteously ;194
Away he fled along the fields of air,195
Down tow’rds the regions of the western sky,196
Where thunder clouds were gathering ; tho’ elsewhere197
The sky was cloudless. Daniel saw him fly198
Fearless along the flashing mist, and fling ǁ 199
The innocuous lightning from his sable wing.200

ǁ So Pliny, lib. 2. c. 55. Solam e volucribus aquilam fulma haud percutit ; quæ ob
hoc armigera hujus teli fingitur
. And again, lib. 10. cap. 3. Negant unquam solam
hance alitem fulmine examinatam ; ideo armieram Jovis consuetudo judicavit
. I am
happy to add the testimony of Daniel O’ Rourke to that of Pliny.


He watched him as he lessened in his flight,201
Gazing with anger, agony and dread ;202
Until he vanished wholly from his sight,203
And then in sorrowing accents, thus he said204
Oh ! am I not a luckless man the night !205
What shall I do ?” (and then he scratched his head,)206
Oh! if I once was home, upon my word,207
I’d ne’er again set leg across a bird.”208


How long he staid upon his airy seat,209
I have not time at present to disclose ;210
What wondrous things, if any, he did meet,211
And whether he was hail’d by friends or foes ;212
Whether he set on earth again his feet,213
My readers fain would learn, I may suppose ;214
He saw, ’tis true, what none e’er saw before ;—215
But we reserve them all for Canto Four.216