(c) all rights reserved · dverse · poetry · sestina

dVerse — Sestina — The Tale of an Irish Rover

irish-pub-painting-19Oil painting by Jonelle Summerfield


‘Tis nineteen ought two. Compelled am I to tell this tale
As nearer wails the banshee. After long years mulling over
My harrowing adventure, truth it be, not fiction’s trail
When I was much younger and a thrill-seeking Irish rover
Pad and quill at your side, please scribe it while I drink my ale
Log glow dims in the fireplace. December eve grows colder

In eighteen sixty two, ’twas a night like this though colder
In my favorite corner of the pub is where I begin my tale
As I recollect that night, I also held a stein of golden ale
That she, fine lass, brought to me while looking me over
Twinkling eyes and ample curves thought I, an Irish rover
We joked until barkeep’s, “Last Call!” and I hot on her trail

We romped all night then fell asleep after cigarettes’ trails
Surprised myself and held her close as morning air grew colder
Awoke to breakfast cooking as I was a hungry rover
I dribbled coffee and wolfed down eggs as she began her tale
Of a treasure that would make us rich a hundred times over
First step was to get the map by poisoning the holder’s ale

Ears alert, she quick outlined how she’d dose Jack’s ale
My job was to follow and then drag him off the trail
Next she said, my cunning tasks with Jack were far from over
Eyes cold she said, “He’ll feed the pigs.” Monotone was colder.
For a lass who’d warmed my heart, chilled by the plan’s dark tale,
Yet I’d done a lot and heard of worse as a seasoned blackjack rover.

Greed and lust blinded me, I gave my word as a rover
Said not a peep as I watched Old Jack drink his poisoned ale
Dragged his corpse, the pigs ate well, moonless night of the tale.
The map was ours, the time was now to hunt the X’s trail
Which showed as high on Whitney, we had to pack for colder
Romped awhile then dreamed of gold til starlight was turned over

Hiked a day, found gold at “X”, and then I hurled her over
None but fools would trust the word of a charming Irish rover
Once warm flesh, now crushed below, would quickly grow much colder
Her frozen scream still pierces me, will not be quenched by ale
Fortune gained, soon fortune lost to appetites on the trail
Restless spirits haunt me now, compelled to tell their tale

As banshee nears, my life will soon be over. In hell there is no ale.
None will miss this cursed rover. May victims’ bones rise from the trail.
Hell scorches but won’t warm a soul grown colder. Please share my tale.



Victoria is the host of dVerse today and is introducing the poetry flavor of the month, sestina.

As several others at dVerse said, it was quite a challenge to pull this thing together.  I consider it a rough draft at this point and will almost surely tweak it as I go.  As I put this together, I loosely had the story of Bob Dylan’s song, “Isis” in mind.  It went its own way at some point, but Isis was the starting point.

Update on 8/19/19:  per Bjorn’s suggestion I’ve evened up the first stanza (thanks, Bjorn!) I’ve also tweaked the rest a little here and there.

53 thoughts on “dVerse — Sestina — The Tale of an Irish Rover

  1. I’m laughing as this made me think of my Irish Uncle Carlyle who was known as “Uncle Irish” and was indeed a roving free spirit–an Irish cop in L.A. You definitely took up the challenge, writing a narrative poem with rhyme. The last stanza (the envoi) is supposed to be three lines. I’m wondering if you ended up with six because that’s the way your blog posted it. If not, perhaps you could work with those lines to condense them into three. Such a fun (and typical) Irish tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know you’re right. Maybe if just a few chomped him they would keel over, be autopsied and a grim discovery would be made. If there was a large crowd sharing him maybe a little queasy but would live?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a mesmerizing tale and I enjoyed this immensely. Filled with passion, rage, murder, regrets of Irish Rover. My suggestion to improve the part would be the ending envoi – shorter would work.I am cheering you with a toast for that ale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Grace, Cheers! Will be sanding the edges and polishing it. I am in awe of the ones submitted to dVerse with sestinas already. So many talented poets come to the pub.


  3. I agree, jade, the sestina is challenging, but you’ve pulled it off with a ballad-sestina, which rhymes! I caught the strains of Dylan’s ‘Isis’ while I was reading it – so I’m playing it in the background now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wait to see your sestina, K. Like Victoria and others said, once you choose those 6 continuing end-of-the-line words, you build your sestina around them. I fulfilled the requirements but mine is clunky. I want to try one with 6 colors as the 6 words and see what happens 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This form is a bit of a behemoth, but I liked how you attacked it. Your Rover tale was dark and delicious. Rover transforms from protagonist to antagonist; nice twist. I like your idea of pre-choosing the six words, even going with colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fun story … I really like how you weaved the narrative into this, sounds like there is a punishment to come later. If I would change something I would try to make the lines similar in length, maybe filling out the lines in the first stanza with even more descriptive language.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this is wonderful. A classic cautionary tale with a bit of the supernatural thrown in. It seems very Irish to me! 🙂 And I love the language: things like ‘Log glow dims in the fireplace. December eve grows colder’ and ‘Romped awhile then dreamed of gold til starlight was turned over’. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sarah, it almost seems like too much rhyming with the same end sound but it seems to work. Glad to see you back 🙂 Guessing you have been on a wondrous adventure.


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