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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. 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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