CELT document E860001-006

The Gascon O'Driscol

Samuel Ferguson

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    The Gascon O'Driscol

  1. In old O'Driscol's pedigree,
    'Mong lords of ports and galleys,
    "The Gascon" whence? and who was he
    First bore the surname? tell us.
    Not difficult the task
    To answer what you ask.
  2. The merchants from the Biscay sea
    To ports of Munster sailing,
    With wines of Spain and Gascony
    Supplied carouse unfailing
    To guests of open door,
    Of old, at Baltimore.
  3.  p.33
  4. Till when against one festal day
    O'Driscol stock'd his cellars,
    He found not but of gold to pay
    In part, the greedy dealers:
    And, for the surplusage
    Gave this good son in pledge.
  5. They bore the boy to fair Bayonne,
    Where vines on hills were growing;
    And, when the days of grace were gone,
    And still the debt was owing,
    The careful merchant's heart
    Grew hard with angry smart.
  6.  p.3
  7. "The wine I sold the Irish knave
    Is spent in waste and surfeit;
    The pledge for payment that he gave
    Remains, a sorry forfeit:
    Bring forth the hostage boy
    And set him on employ."
  8. "Now youth, lay by the lettered page,
    Leave Spanish pipe and tabor
    To happier co-mates of thy age,
    And put thy hands to labour.
    Ten ridged rows of the vine
    To dress and till, be thine."
  9. From solar-chamber came the lad;
    In sooth, a comely creature
    As e'er made eye of mother glad
    In well-shaped limb and feature. p.34
    As 'mid the vines he stepp'd,
    His cheek burned, and he wept.
  10. "The grief that wrings this pungent tear
    Springs not from pride or anger;
    Let the hoe be my hunting-spear,
    The pruning-knife my hanger:
    The work ye will I'll do,
    But, deem my kinsmen true.
  11. "Be sure, in some unknown resort
    Their messengers have tarried;
    Some head-wind held their ship in port,
    Some tribute-ship miscarried;
    Else never would they leave
    Their pledge without reprieve.
  12. "I've seen when, round the banquet board
    From stintless-circling beaker
    To all the Name our butlers pour'd
    The ruby-royal liquor,
    And every face was bright
    With mirth and life's delight.
  13. "And, as the warming wine exhaled
    The shows of outward fashion,
    Their very hearts I've seen unveil'd
    In gay and frank elation;
    And not a breast but grew
    More trusty, more seen through.
  14. "These vineyards grew the grape that gave
    My soul that fond assurance; p.35
    And if for them I play the slave,
    I grudge not the endurance,
    Nor stronger mandate want
    To tend the truthful plant."
  15. The seniors of the sunny land
    Beheld him daily toiling—
    (Old times they were of instincts bland
    The pagan heart assoiling)—
    And this their frequent speech
    And counsel, each with each: —
  16. "A patient boy, with gentle grace
    He bears his yoke of trouble;
    Serenely grave the ample face,
    The gesture large and noble,
    Erect, or stooping low,
    Along the staky row.
  17. "Where'er he moves, the serving train,
    Accord him their obeisance;
    The very vintagers refrain
    Their rude jests in his presence;
    And—what is strange indeed—
    His vines their vines exceed.
  18. "The tendrils twine, the leaves expand,
    The purpling bunches cluster
    To pulpier growth beneath his hand,
    As though 'twere formed to foster,
    By act of mere caress,
    Life, wealth, and joyousness.
  19.  p.36
  20. "It seems as if a darkling sense
    In root and stem were native;
    As if an answering effluence
    And virtue vegetative
    (Anointed kings own such)
    Went outward from his touch.
  21. "Behold his nation's sages say
    A righteous king's intendance
    Is seen in fishy-teeming bay
    And corn-fields' stock' d abundance,
    In udder-weighted cows
    And nut-bent hazel boughs.
  22. "These Scots, apart in ocean set
    Since first from Shinar turning,
    Preserve the simple wisdom yet
    Of mankind's early morning,
    While God with Adam's race
    Still communed, face to face.
  23. "Not in the written word alone
    He woos and warns the creature;
    His will is still in wonders shown
    Though manifesting Nature;
    And Nature here makes plain
    This youth was born to reign.
  24. "Ill were it, for a merchant's gains,
    To leave, at toil appointed
    For horny-handed village swains.
    God's designate anointed:  p.37
    But good for him and us
    The act magnanimous.
  25. "Blest are the friends of lawful kings
    To righteous rule consenting:
    Secure the blessing that he brings
    By clemency preventing;
    And, granting full release,
    Return him home in peace.
  26. "And, ere your topsails take the wind,
    Stow ye within his vessel
    A pipe the ripest search may find
    In cellars of the Castle;
    Of perfume finer yet
    Than rose and violet.
  27. "That, when, at home, his kin shall pour
    The welcoming libation,
    Such rapture-pitch their souls shall soar
    Of sweet exhilaration,
    As Bacchus on his pard
    With moist eye might regard."
  28. They stowed the ship; he stepped on board
    In seemly wise attended;
    But this was still his parting word
    When farewells all were ended:
    "Be sure my father yet
    Will satisfy the debt."
  29. And, even as from the harbour mouth
    They northward went careering,  p.38
    There passed to windward, steering south,
    O'Driscol's galley bearing,
    From Baltimore, the gold
    Of ransom safe in hold.

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Title statement

Title (uniform): The Gascon O'Driscol

Author: Samuel Ferguson

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft.

Extent: 1645 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2016

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E860001-006

Availability: The works by Sir Samuel Ferguson are in the public domain. This electronic text is available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of private or academic research and teaching.

Notes statement

Source description

Life and Work of Sir Samuel Ferguson

  1. Mary Catherine Guinness Ferguson, Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day (Edinburgh/London 1896).
  2. Arthur Deering, Sir Samuel Ferguson, Poet and Antiquarian (Philadelphia 1931).
  3. Malcolm Brown, Sir Samuel Ferguson (Lewisburg) 1973.
  4. Robert O'Driscoll, An ascendancy of the heart: Ferguson and the beginnings of modern Irish literature in English (Dublin 1976).
  5. Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: Studies in the idea of Irish nationality, its development and literay expression prior to the nineteenth century (Amsterdam/Philadelphia 1986).
  6. Terence Brown and Barbara Hayley (eds), Samuel Ferguson: a centenary tribute (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy 1987).
  7. Maurice Harmon, The Enigma of Samuel Ferguson, in: O. Komesu, M. Sekine (eds), Irish writers and politics (Irish Literary Studies 36) (Gerrards Cross 1989) 62–79.
  8. Peter Denman, Samuel Ferguson: the literary achievement (Gerrards Cross, Bucks. 1990).
  9. Eve Patten, 'Samuel Ferguson: a tourist in Antrim', in: Gerald Dawe and John Wilson Foster, (eds), The poet's place: Ulster literature and society: essays in honour of John Hewitt, 1907–87 (Belfast: Queen's University of Belfast, Institute of Irish Studies, 1991).
  10. Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Samuel Ferguson: Beatha agus Saothar (Baile Átha Cliath [=Dublin] 1993).
  11. Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810–1886), in: Eamon Phoenix (ed), A century of northern life: The Irish News and 100 years of Ulster history, 1890s–1990s (Belfast 1995) 182–186.
  12. Sean Ryder, 'The politics of landscape and region in nineteenth-century poetry', in: Leon Litvack, Glenn Hooper (eds), Ireland in the nineteenth century: regional identity (Dublin 2000).
  13. Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson and the culture of nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin 2004).
  14. Peter Denman, William Carleton and Samuel Ferguson: lives and contacts, in: Gordon Brand (ed), William Carleton, the authentic voice (Gerard's Cross 2006) 360–377.
  15. Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson's Hibernian Nights' Entertainments, in: James H. Murphy (ed), The Irish book in English, 1800–1891. The Oxford History of the Irish Book, 4 (Oxford: 2011).
  16. Matthew Campbell, 'Samuel Ferguson's Maudlin Jumble', in: Kirstie Blair, Mina Gorji (eds), Class and the canon: constructing labouring-class poetry and poetics, 1780–1900 (Basingstoke 2013).


  • Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson are available on www.archive.org.

The edition used in the digital edition

Ferguson, Samuel (1918). ‘The Gascon O’Driscol’. In: Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson‍. Ed. by Alfred Perceval Graves. Dublin: Talbot Press, pp. 32–38.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {Samuel Ferguson},
  title 	 = {The Gascon O'Driscol},
  editor 	 = {Alfred Perceval Graves},
  booktitle 	 = {Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson},
  publisher 	 = {Talbot Press},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  date 	 = {1918},
  pages 	 = {32–38}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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Profile description

Creation: 1858–1864

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  • The poem is in English. (en)

Keywords: The Gascon O'Driscol; Fosterage; Gascony; poetry; Celtic revival; 19c

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2016-06-14: Text captured. (data capture Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-06-15: SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2014-06-14: File proofed (1, 2); structural markup applied according to CELT practice; bibliographic details added; file parsed and validated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)

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