Knocknarea - Sligo Poets

Go to content

Main menu:

1912 > Sligo Poetry 1912 > Sligo Independent

Sligo Independent 16 March 1912

              ON KNOCKNAREA

The grey clouds eddy, swing and lift
                              On Knocknarea
Before the fresh sale breeze they drift
                              On Knocknarea.
While far below the breakers roar
Their bull-mouth’d thunder from the shore
And echo flings it back once more
                              On Knocknarea.

The waning sunbeams faint and change
                              On Knocknarea,
And paint the rocks with shadows strange
                              On Knocknarea.
Night comes apace—and all alone
I watch the stormy dark upblown
And hear the gathering tempest moan
                              On Knocknarea.

How fast the buried memories throng
                              On Knocknarea!
Of misty peoples, vanished long
                              On Knocknarea.
Milesian shout and Firbolg cheer
Awakened once the echoes here,
And roused the mighty-antler’d deer
                              On Knocknarea.

A mighty concourse once was here,
                              On Knocknarea;
Who gather’d round the Royal Bier
                              On Knocknarea.
The West was dark with smoky red—
The keen-eyed eagle screamed o’erhead—
They piled the stones, and left the dead
                              On Knocknarea!

Full many a saint and sage have trod
                              On Knocknarea,
And trembled at the Voice of God
                              On Knocknarea;
Elijah’s God, in cloud-girt might,
His dreadful light’nings darting bright—
They bowed their heads before the sight
                              On Knocknarea.

Yet all have crumbled into dust,
                              On Knocknarea,
And passed unto the moth and rust
                              On Knocknarea.
Yea, saint and pagan, lord and slave
Are long since passed to urn and grave,
Engulph’d by Time’s relentless wave,
                              On Knocknarea.

So rolled the years’ unhurrying march
                              On Knocknarea,
Adown Eternity’s dark arch
                              From Knocknarea.
The groans of Erin in her pain—
The surf-choked cries of ship-wrecked Spain—
All came like dreams, and passed again
                              From Knocknarea.

How small a thing seems human life
                              On Knocknarea!
A little joy, a little strife—
                              We pass away.
We pass upon those thronging years,
Down pathways wet with sweat and tears,
While, mocking all our hopes and fears,
                              Stands Knocknarea!

                                       A.L. Denham

The well-constructed, confident poem appears to have been the only contribution by this author in the Sligo newspapers of 1912. The clever use of rhyme, the repetition of the short Knocknarea line with occasional variations lends an incantory feeling to the whole poem.

The poet traverses a wide range of history from the Milesians to the Spanish Armada and ends with a rather commonplace idea cleverly expressed in terms of the permanence of the mountain.

I have been unable to find a Denham in the Irish Census of 1901 or 1911 who might be the author. There are none resident in Sligo or Leitrim in either. See the comments on the A.D. series of short political verses.

Knocknarea is a very prominent mountain to the west of Sligo town.

Back to content | Back to main menu