Frederick Robert Higgins

(24 April 1896 - 6 January 1941 / Foxford / Ireland)

The Dark Breed


WITH those bawneen men I'm one,
In the grey dusk-fall,
Watching the Galway land
Sink down in distress-
With dark men, talking of grass,
By a loose stone wall,
In murmurs drifting and drifting
To loneliness.

Over this loneliness,
Wild riders gather their fill
Of talking on beasts and on fields
Too lean for a plough,
Until, more grey than the grey air,
Song drips from a still,
Through poteen, reeling the dancing-
Ebbing the grief now!

Just, bred from the cold lean rock,
Those fellows have grown;
And only in that grey fire
Their lonely days pass
To dreams of far clovers
And cream-gathering heifers, alone
Under the hazels of moon-lighters,
Clearing the grass.

Again in the darkness,
Dull knives we may secretly grease,
And talk of blown horns on clovers
Where graziers have lain;
But there rolls the mist,
With sails pulling wind from the seas-
No bullion can brighten that mist,
O brood of lost Spain.

So we, with the last dark men,
Left on the rock grass,
May brazen grey loneliness
Over a poteen still
Or crowd on the bare chapel floor
Hearing late Mass,
To loosen that hunger
Broken land never can fill.

Submitted: Friday, May 11, 2012
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