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William Allingham

(1824 - 1889)

Irish poet and lyricist. His first volume was Poems (1850) which contain one of his best poems, 'The Fairies'. Another notable poem was 'Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland: a Modern Poem' (1864). He wrote several collections of verse for children. He also edited The Ballad Book (1864) and Fifty Modern Poems (1865). His use of Irish themes in his lyrics set a precedent for greater poets like Yeats.

Featured Works
'The Fairies', 'The Winding Banks of Erne', 'The Pale Image', 'Aeolian Harp', 'To the Nightingales', 'Lovely Mary Donnelly', Half Waking.

Allingham was born to an old Anglo-Irish family at Ballyshannon in Donegal. He worked as a customs officer in Ireland and later in England where he settled in 1863. He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle whose ideas influenced him as a poet. He contributed to many periodicals and made many friends, notably Tennyson and Dante Gabriel Rossetti who illustrated some of his work. Though his collected Poems (1888) was popular for a short time, none of his writings made a lasting impression.

Half Waking

I thought it was the little bed
I slept in long ago;
A straight white curtain at the head,
And two smooth knobs below.
I thought I saw the nursery fire,
And in a chair well-known
My mother sat, and did not tire
With reading all alone.
If I should make the slightest sound
To show that I'm awake,
She'd rise, and lap the blankets round,
My pillow softly shake;
Kiss me, and turn my face to see
The shadows on the wall,
And then sing Rousseau's Dream to me,
Till fast asleep I fall.
But this is not my little bed;
That time is far away;
With strangers now I live instead,
From dreary day to day.