Rich and Rare Were the Gems She Wore





Rich and rare were the gems she wore,
And a bright gold ring on her wand she bore;
But oh! her beauty was far beyond
Her sparkling gems, or snow‑white wand.

“Lady! dost thou not fear to stray,
So lone and lovely through this bleak way?
Are Erin’s sons so good or so cold,
As not to be tempted by woman or gold?”

“Sir Knight! I feel not the least alarm,
No son of Erin will offer me harm: —
For though they love woman and golden store,
Sir Knight! they love honour and virtue more!”

On she went, and her maiden smile
In safety lighted her round the green isle;
And blest for ever is she who relied
Upon Erin’s honour and Erin’s pride.


Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852) : Irish Melodies, vol. 1, 1808.


This ballad is founded upon the following anecdote: —

“The people were so inspired with such a spirit of honour, virtue, and religion by the great example of Brien (Brian Boru), and by his excellent administration, that, as a proof of it, we are informed that a young lady of great beauty, adorned with jewels anda costly dress, undertook a journey alone, from one end of the kingdom to the other, with a wand only in her hand, at the top of which was a ring of exceeding great value; and such an impression had the laws and government of this Monarch made on the minds of all the people, that no attempt was made upon her honour, nor was she robbed of her clothes or jewels.”
(Taken from a footnote to this poem in 'Irish Melodies' )

The Poetry of Things

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