‘That rake up near the rafters,
Why leave it there so long?
The handle of the best of ash,
Is smooth and straight and strong;
And, mother, will you tell me,
Why did my father frown,
When, to make the hay in summer-time,
I climbed to take it down?’
She looked into her husband’s eyes,
While her own with light did fill:
‘You’ll shortly know the reason, boy!’
Said Rory of the Hill.

The midnight moon is lighting up
The slopes of Slievenamon—
Whose foot affrights the startled hares
So long before the dawn?
He stopped just where the Anner’s stream
Winds up the woods anear,
Then whistled low, and looked around
To see the coast was clear.
A shealing door flew open—
In he stepped with right good will—
‘God save all here, and bless your work,’
Said Rory of the Hill.

Right hearty was the welcome
That greeted him, I ween;
For years gone by he fully proved
How well he loved the Green;
And there was one amongst them
Who grasped him by the hand—
One who through all that weary time
Roamed on a foreign strand:
He brought them news from gallant friends
That made their heart-strings thrill;
‘My sowl! I never doubted them!’
Said Rory of the Hill.

They sat around the humble board
Till dawning of the day,
And yet not song nor shout I heard—
No revellers were they:
Some brows flushed red with gladness,
While some were grimly pale;
But pale or red, from out those eyes
Flashed souls that never quail!
‘And sing us now about the vow
They swore for to fulfil’—
‘Ye’ll read it yet in History,’
Said Rory of the Hill.

Next day the ashen handle
He took down from where it hung;
The toothed rake, full scornfully,
Into the fire he flung,
And in its stead a shining blade
Is gleaming once again;
(Oh! for a hundred thousand of
Such weapons and such men!)
Right soldierly he wielded it,
And—going through his drill—
‘Attention’—‘charge’—‘front, point’—‘advance!’
Cried Rory of the Hill.

She looked at him with woman’s pride,
With pride and woman’s fears;
She flew to him, she clung to him,
And dried away her tears;
He feels her pulse beat truly,
While her arms around him twine —
‘Now God be praised for your stout heart,
Brave little wife of mine.’
He swung his first-born in the air,
While joy his heart did fill—
‘You’ll be a Freeman yet, my boy!’
Said Rory of the Hill.

Oh! knowledge is a wondrous power,
And stronger than the wind;
And thrones shall fall, and despots bow
Before the might of mind:
The poet and the orator
The heart of man can sway,
And would to the kind heavens
That Wolf Tone were here to-day!
Yet trust me, friends, dear Ireland’s strength,
Her truest strength, is still
The rough-and-ready roving boys,
Like Rory of the Hill.