CELT document E900012-007

A Game of Chess

Patrick Augustine Sheehan

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    A Game of Chess

  1. 1. A Game of Chess

    A square of black, and a square of white,
    And they call them, Nights and Days;
    Black, where a star withdraws his light,
    White, where he sheds his rays.
    And the fray goes merrily on, without
    Weapons of pen or sword,
    And the mites move in, and the mites move out,
    Pawns on the chequered board.
  2. The demiurge, Michael (for God's afar),
    Leans on his mighty hand
    His brow, that is ruffled with many a scar
    Of thought, and of high command.
    His grim antagonist studies the game,
    As when, on the desert rocks,
    He studied the Face without sin or shame,
    And the dew on the auburn locks.
  3.  p.524
  4. There are knights to unhorse, and castles to storm,
    And Queens to uncrown and dethrone,
    And the piles of the dead and defeated form
    The prizes each claims as his own.
    But the duellists fight, without word or shout,
    Or shadow of noise or sound,
    And the mites move in, and the mites move out
    For the world's a merry-go-round.
  5. Aye! a merry-go-round-a jest and a song,
    And the laughter of children at play,
    And the hours stretch out, so sunny and long,
    And Life is a summer day
    But that now and again a drifted cloud,
    Like the pass of a wizard's hand,
    Darkens the sunshine, dapples the crowd,
    And makes night over all the land.
  6. Once and again o'er the murmurous mites,
    As a wave o'er a slanting deck,
    A dark hand sweeps, as to claim its rights,
    And a mocking voice cries, “Check!”
    And then there's a pause, and a little rout,
    And a cry for a greater claim;
    And the mites move in, and the mites move out
    For Life is a Maypole game.
  7. Alas! and how will it end? I trow
    'Tis a weary game at the best,
    And the odds lean on to the left somehow,
    And the Angel's brow's depressed.
    And the players would fling it up long ago,
    But for the prize at stake,
    And Satan will never his chances forego,
    Nor Michael his post forsake.
  8. But the pitiful thing is the victims' greed,
    For their bubbles, and beads of glass.
    They are deaf to the fight, nor ever heed
    The hands that over them pass:
    The hand of white that trembles with doubt,
    'The black that grasps its chance,
    And the mites move in, and the mites move out,
    And Life is a Morris-dance.
  9. P. A. SHEEHAN

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Title (uniform): A Game of Chess

Author: Patrick Augustine Sheehan

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Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork and private donation

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1. First draft

Extent: 960 words

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

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

Date: 2014

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

CELT document ID: E900012-007

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

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  • [Details to follow].

Canon Sheehan on the Internet

  • http://www.canonsheehanremembered.com.


  1. Canon P.A. Sheehan, 'A Game of Chess,' The Irish Monthly, 28/327 (September 1900) 523–524.
  2. Canon P.A. Sheehan, 'A Game of Chess,' The Literary Life, essays: poems (Dublin 1921) 55–56.


  1. Herman Joseph Heuser, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: the story of an Irish parish priest as told chiefly by himself in books, personal memoirs, and letters (New York 1917).
  2. Arthur Coussens, P.A. Sheehan, zijn leven en zijn werken (Brugge/Bruges 1923).
  3. Michael P. Linehan, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: Priest, Novelist, Man of Letters (Dublin 1952).
  4. Patrick Maume, The Long Gestation: Irish Nationalist Life, 1891–1918 (Dublin 1999).
  5. Patrick Maume, 'Sheehan, (Canon) Patrick Augustine,' in: Dictionary of Irish Biography (9 vols, Cambridge 2009), vol. 8, 882–884.
  6. James O'Brien (ed.), The Collected Letters of Canon Sheehan of Doneraile, 1883–1913 (Wells 2013).
  7. James O'Brien, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile 1852–1913: Outlines for a Literary Biography (Wells 2013). [Bibliographical references 205–11].

The edition used in the digital edition

‘A Game of Chess’. In: The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature‍ 28.327. Ed. by Matthew Russell SJ, pp. 523–524.

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

  title 	 = {A Game of Chess},
  journal 	 = {The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature},
  editor 	 = {Matthew Russell SJ},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  publisher 	 = {Irish Jesuit Province},
  date 	 = {September 1900},
  volume 	 = {28},
  number 	 = {327},
  pages 	 = {523–524}


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Creation: By Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852–1913)

Date: 1900

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  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: poetry; 19c; religious; chess

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-04-28: Additions to bibliographical details made; file parsed; SGML and HTML versions created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-02-07: Header created; structural mark-up added; file proofed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  3. 2014-01-24: Text scanned. (file capture Benjamin Hazard)

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