‘Tls a lay of martial glory, not from ancient Greece nor Rome
But a cherished fireside story of each loyal British home –
‘Tis a scene of Derry’s valour when her war flag was unfurled
And her fame was traced for-ever in the Annals of the World.
When her brightest maiden honours were portrayed in tears of blood,
When her shout of “No Surrender!” sounded proudly o’er the flood –
That watchword and that heirloom of her children yet to be
To echo from her turrets whilst the Foyle flows to the sea,
To ring in deathless story the rights her heroes gained
Whilst her walls are crowned by Walker, and her bible is unchained.
Fast the dauntless sons of Derry were falling day by day,
By the hands of the besiegers and by famine’s slow decay
When the cry went through the city, “seek a warrior stern and true
To face yon frowning phalanx led by Gallia’s chief Maumont”.
Leapt the leal blood of our fathers till each pale cheek crimsoned high
Leapt the spirit of our fathers till it shone in every eye;
Leapt the broad swords from their scabbards, but none that sword could wield,
Like the ponderous sword of Murray, so they chose him for the field.
Closed the two contending armies, rose the din of battle then,
Like two rushing avalanches meeting in an Alpine glen;
High above that iron forest, two swords were seen to glance –
One was Colonel Adam Murray’s, one the vaunted sword of France:
Twice have they come in contact, shook the earth at every stroke,
But twice the rush of horsemen that mortal conflict broke.
High above the din of battle, roared the lion voice Maumont,
“Stand aside both France and Derry, make a circle for us two”,
Then recede both gory forces, and a ring is soon made free,
Then those champions are left standing in the heart of that red sea.
Roared the lion voiced commander – “For the Eternal City’s claims,
For the honour of old Gallia, for the Royal right of James,
I charge thee, chief of rebels, thou Ajax of the Siege,
To fight me or surrender to King James thy sovereign liege”.
“Surrender!” said the Murray, “In fair Derry finds no home,
That man is not our monarch that would make us slaves to Rome!
“We stand for good King William, for our faith and Bible right,
For our homes and those who love us, so may God defend the right”.
As an earthquake’s sharp concussion, as a burning mountain’s burst,
Met those stern and fiery foemen, with warlike stroke and thrust;
With the strength of giant sinew, with the veteran’s practised steel
Every cut of their great broadswords made their chargers bend and reel;
Made those stern old soldiers round them stand motionless as stone,
As they gazed on that great, combat and the blows that both laid on.
Long and dubious was the struggle, for gallant was Maumont,
Victorious in all battles, and his battles were not few;
But in vain he strained each sinew, in vain all arts he tried,
Still the Maiden City’s hero the Gallic chief defied;
Maumont, enraged to madness, drew a stroke as if his last,
But the wary Murray parried and the furious blade went past;
It passed, but cleft the shoulder of Murray’s steed in twain,
But the hand that struck so stoutly, would never strike again
For the ponderous sword of Murray cleft the foeman through the brain.
By John Kee Snr, Donegal (date unknown)