King Malachy and the Poet M'Coisi

Thomas D'Arcy McGee


KING MALACHY, shorn of crown and renown,

With nothing left but his mensal board,

Hung in the troopless hall his sword,

Cared his own horse in the stable,

And daily sank deeper in joys of the table;

For Brian the King, by force and art,

By might of brain and hope of heart,

Conquered the sceptre and won the crown,

Leaving to Malachy little renown.


In Tara’s hall was room to spare,

For few were the chiefs and courtiers there;

Of all who stood well in the monarch’s graces,

But three retained their ancient places,

And two of the three had followed Brian,

Had the conqueror thought them worth his buyin’;

The third, the poet M’Coisi, alone

Stood true to the empty, discrowned throne.


And many a tale the poet told

Of Tara’s splendor in days of old,—

Of Erin’s wonderful builders three,

Of Troylane, the builder of Rath-na-ree,

And Unadh, who built the banquet-hall,

And the Gobhan Saer, the master of all;

Of the Miller of Nith, and the Miller of Fore,

And many a hundred marvels more;

Of the Well of Galloon that, like sudden sorrow,

Turns the hair to gray to-morrow;

Of the Well of Slieve-bloom, which, who profanes

On the land around, draws down plagues and rains;

Of the human wolves that howl and prey

Through Ossory’s Woods from dark till day;

Of speaking babes and potent boys,

And the wonderful man of Clonmacnoise,

Who lived seven years without a head,

And the edifying life he led;

Of ships and armies seen in the air,

And the wonders wrought by St. Patrick’s prayer.

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