The Prisoner

by Katharine Tynan

Here is the happy house where he was born,

The fields of honey-grass, the springing corn,

Mountain on mountain, far and far away,

And Glendalough, golden and silver grey—

The Dark Rose made her own of him who knows

There is no beauty like to hers, Dark Rose.


Soft singing of streams is here and hark! the lark

That is not still between the day and dark;

Thrushes and blackbirds and the cushat dove.

The wind wanders, rain from the hills above

Steals on her silver feet, and the grey mist

Veils for a little sapphire and amethyst.


Where does the Master tarry, whither stray

His feet that loved so well the appointed way,

That trod the pastures lightly, the rich mead?

The sheep run with their lambs, the cattle feed

Knee-deep in grass: their liquid eyes give praise.

Why is he absent from the nights and days?


Now in his dreams alone he hears the birds

And the familiar voice of flocks and herds:

In dreams he feels the wind upon his face, 

Visits once more the old beloved place.

He is free, he is free, until he wakes once more

To the stark prison-walls, the unopening door.


He takes his outing in the prison yard.

His dear Black Rose has slipped through wall and guard;

Her beauty and glamour blind his wondering eyes,

For whom so many men made sacrifice,

Flinging their lives down with a jest and song

So she keep beautiful, so she keep young.


What matter for the gyves upon his hands!

O she is with him and she understands;

And she will lead him yet to the free air

And this wild beauty that but covers her.

And she is worth it all, his Lady who knows

There is no beauty like to hers, Dark Rose.

Published in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. Vol. 9, No. 35 (Sep., 1920), p. 413

Cover image: ‘Façade of a Four Storey Prison (1922). UCD Archives. Desmond FitzGerald Photographs. P80/PH/107