Mortality in Skibbereen



The “Keen”* comes wailing on the wind,
That sweeps o’er Erin’s mountains blue;
It chills the heart of Earl and hind–
It lends the land a ghastly hue!
The song of death by Death is chanted!
The dying bear the shroudless dead;
Th’ uncoffin’d clay a grave is granted–
The very worm averts his head.Darkly proceed the famish’d cotters;
To-morrow may behold their grave:
The young man towards the churchyard totters–
The bravest heart no more is brave.
Those gray hairs may have known the wave
Where Nelson’s SIGNAL boldly flew;
Perchance they dared the Gallic glaive,
And bear the scars of Waterloo.

Slowly the gaunt procession wends–
The blessed voice of Hope is faint;
Her spotless stole Religion rends
In misery o’er the dying plaint;
While Pestilence, on sable wings,
Aids vulture Famine in the feast,
Which vies well with the offerings
Paid to the Plague– Scourge of the East.

And yet– oh! paradox– oh! shame!–
Oh! blind improvidence! The land
Is of the best that ever came
Forth from its mighty Maker’s hand.
Fertile and fair, it should have been
The glory of the British crown;
And now, behold the shudd’ring scene!–
The seedless fields– the spectral town.But Nature vindicates her God;
Teaches a lesson from the soil:
A voice springs from the blighted sod
In mercy for the sons of toil.
Fair Nature’s energies expire
When rack’d for one poor porcal root;
And Labour merits better hire
Than the sad fare of Raleigh’s fruit.

The “Keen” comes wailing on the blast,
The voice of Winter joins the dirge;
The shadows of Despair are cast
Around the new grave’s narrow verge.
Oh! let us hope that day will rise
To dissipate this fearful gloom;
And bring the blessings of the skies
To raise a nation from her tomb.– L.

THE former accounts of the ravages of disease at Skibbereen continue to be but too sadly confirmed. From a drawing made on the spot, we give a sketch of a scene of no unusual occurrence, as appears from the following extract of a letter, received by Mr. Blake, of Cork, from Dr. Crowley, of Skibbereen, dated Jan. 22:–

“Deaths here are daily increasing. Dr. Donovan and I are just this moment after returning from the village of South Reen, where we had to bury a body ourselves that was eleven days dead; and where do you think? In a kitchen garden. We had to dig the ground, or rather the hole, ourselves; no one would come near us, the smell was so intolerable. We are half dead from the work lately imposed on us.”

* The Irish Lament for the Dead.