JG Quilty - Sligo Poets

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1915 > Sligo Poetry 1915 > Sligo Nationalist

John George Quilty from north Sligo previously had poems published in Sligo newspapers in 1911 and 1913. These three poems all deal with the war and they reflect the general pro-war feeling, praise for those who have joined the army, criticism of those men who haven't, admiration for the Irish in the British army and sympathy for the women left behind.

Quilty was obviously very familiar with popular ballads and song and his compositions resemble traditional ballads with effective use of refrains and repetitions. There are echoes of the ballad High Germany in some of them.

Each of these poems is written in the voice of a woman whose love has gone to the war but the language and tone varies considerable from poem to poem.

In Molly's Lament he attempts to suggest a rustic accent by non-standard spelling (winches, trinches for wenches, trenches for example). In The Green Cockade the language is much more archaic and mock-poetic, Warm glows the lovelight in our maidens’ eyes; And genial the beam that lights our native skies.

These are interesting attempts at war poetry, much more lively and interesting than the standard pro-war poetry of such as Harold Vesey Damer or Harold Begbie
in the Sligo Independent.

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     Sligo Nationalist 13 March 1915.

                   Molly’s Soliloquy.

I’ll search the green bank in the lone, willow grove,
Where Patrick first met me, an’ taught me to love;
For the laives that remind me of faith, hope and joy—
The Shamrock to sind to my dear, sojer boy:-
My Ranger boy brave!
Who far o’er the wave,
Strikes many a blow
At the false Germin foe;
Our fair land of Erin from horrors to save.

For shure, when Saint Patrick’s Day comes whirlin’ roun’;
Since the Shamrock won’t grow in the could, forrin groun’;
We, failin’ to sind it, it won’t be displayed;
An’ the Saint might be vexed with aich dull Irish maid.
An’ play us a thrick
That’ll make our hearts sick—
By sinding Frinch winches
Right up to the trinches,
To coax our brave lads into love with thim quick.

Not, indeed, that I dread my Pat’s fancy would rove,
For a true Irish man is ne’er false to his love;
An’ Frinch maids an’ Belgees may try all their arts
On our lads in the thrinches, but we hould their hearts.
Still the dear Saint might play
On the boys far away! —
Exert his great powers
To bring tears in showers
From Irish girls’ eyes for forgettin’ his day!

My Patrick is, oh, such a well set-up lad,
To see him ahurlin’ just makes my heart mad.
Ah, then his eyes flash with such wondherful lure! —
He’ll fight like the divil! —of that I am shure.
He’ll smash back the Garmins,
An’ yalla-skinned varmins
Of Turks, and sich creaytures;
Destroying their features! —
He’ll feel quite at home in all war’s fierce alarmins.

To me Micky Moran kem dressed up so gran’—
Wee Mickey who prides in his money an’ lan’!
Moaned he—“Little Molly! I love you! ‘tis plain!
Will you marry me, darlin’, an’ aise my heart’s pain?
My answer was—No
Blow high or blow low!
To die I would rather
Than a coward should father
Me child—to the war, faith! I tould him to go.

My mother—she scoulds! an’ my father—he fumes!
When they see me hunt from me the rich would-be grooms.
Croak they—“Wait, my colleen, the day will kum yet,
Whin a lonely, ould maid, you’ll look back with regret.”
By tongue an’ by plan
Let them do what they can,
But my love won’t be sold
For cattle or gold
An’ whin Paddy comes home, thin I’ll marry a —man!

                                               J G QUILTY.

   Sligo Nationalist 15 May 1915

(Some of the wounded British prisoners in Germany have died from neglect—Daily paper.)

Oh never more shall I bind my hair,
And take my place in the cold world’s care!
Oh never more can I happy be!
For they’ve killed my love in far Germany.

A white robe only shall be my dress,
And free wild blossoms my breast caress;
For wild as they was the heart and free,
Of my lad who rests in far Germany!

Through the weary night lone I nurse my grief;
And the light of day brings me no relief.
I long for death—that I quick might flee
To seek my love in far Germany.

Oh, can it be as the daylight dies
I’ll gaze no more on his smiling eyes!
Oh love! oh life! oh this misery!
Oh! my brave lad’s dead in far Germany!

May vengeance fall on the tyrant’s head,
Whose fell designs left my true love dead!
May ill luck haunt him by land and sea!
Who broke my heart in far Germany.

One thought shall soothe me through life’s brief span—
His death became a true Irishman;
For God and Erin, his King and me
Died my soldier lad in far Germany.

                                     J G QUILTY.

    Sligo Nationalist 15 May 1915
            The Green Cockade.

Air-“The White Cockade.”

My parents blessed me and they murmured low;
My sweetheart kissed me her kind eyes aglow.
She bade me hasten o’er the lone grey sea
To strike a blow for Erin
and for liberty.

Here’s a health to each gallant blade,
Who follows our chief with the green cockade!
Oh, our blood shall flow freely in the Low Countrie*
Ere we behold our land enslaved by Germany!

Shall our children say we brooked the tyrant’s chain?
Must our comrades call to us for aid in vain?
And our dead who rest beneath the alien
We swear we will avenge them or beside
them lie!

Warm glows the lovelight in our maidens’
And genial the beam that lights our native
May their bright eyes wither and our sun decline,
Ere they be forced to smile upon false, German swine!

Sweet is the trilling of our birds in Spring;
And our fond hearts echo when our true loves sing.

New sweeter the clashing of the cold, blue steel,
And the fierce roar of the battle as the foemen reel!

When life’s tide is ebbing and its joy is gone
The cowards dies a hundred deaths in one:
Be mine a swift passing mid my comrades dear;
And my requiem be the joyance of an Irish cheer!

Here’s a health to each gallant blade,
Who follows our chief with the green cockade!
Oh, our blood shall flow freely in the low countrie
Ere we behold our land enslaved by Germany!

                                                J G QUILTY.

*An old name for Flanders.

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