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Father Ryan's Poems (9)

2006-09-08 16:13

    Erin's Flag

    Unroll Erin's flag! fling its folds to the breeze! Let it float o'er the land, let it flash o'er the seas! Lift it out of the dust ——let it wave as of yore, When its chiefs with their clans stood around it and swore That never! no, never! while God gave them life, And they had an arm and a sword for the strife, That never! no, never! that banner should yield As long as the heart of a Celt was its shield: While the hand of a Celt had a weapon to wield And his last drop of blood was unshed on the field.

    Lift it up! wave it high! 'tis as bright as of old! Not a stain on its green, not a blot on its gold, Tho' the woes and the wrongs of three hundred long years Have drenched Erin's sunburst with blood and with tears! Though the clouds of oppression enshroud it in gloom, And around it the thunders of Tyranny boom. Look aloft! look aloft! lo! the clouds drifting by, There's a gleam through the gloom, there's a light in the sky, 'Tis the sunburst resplendent —— far, flashing on high! Erin's dark night is waning, her day-dawn is nigh!

    Lift it up! lift it up! the old Banner of Green! The blood of its sons has but brightened its sheen; What though the tyrant has trampled it down, Are its folds not emblazoned with deeds of renown? What though for ages it droops in the dust, Shall it droop thus forever? No, no! God is just! Take it up! take it up! from the tyrant's foul tread, Let him tear the Green Flag —— we will snatch its last shred, And beneath it we'll bleed as our forefathers bled, And we'll vow by the dust in the graves of our dead, And we'll swear by the blood which the Briton has shed, And we'll vow by the wrecks which through Erin he spread, And we'll swear by the thousands who, famished, unfed, Died down in the ditches, wild-howling for bread; And we'll vow by our heroes, whose spirits have fled, And we'll swear by the bones in each coffinless bed, That we'll battle the Briton through danger and dread; That we'll cling to the cause which we glory to wed, 'Til the gleam of our steel and the shock of our lead Shall prove to our foe that we meant what we said —— That we'll lift up the green, and we'll tear down the red!

    Lift up the Green Flag! oh! it wants to go home, Full long has its lot been to wander and roam, It has followed the fate of its sons o'er the world, But its folds, like their hopes, are not faded nor furled; Like a weary-winged bird, to the East and the West, It has flitted and fled —— but it never shall rest, 'Til, pluming its pinions, it sweeps o'er the main, And speeds to the shores of its old home again, Where its fetterless folds o'er each mountain and plain Shall wave with a glory that never shall wane.

    Take it up! take it up! bear it back from afar! That banner must blaze 'mid the lightnings of war; Lay your hands on its folds, lift your gaze to the sky, And swear that you'll bear it triumphant or die, And shout to the clans scattered far o'er the earth To join in the march to the land of their birth; And wherever the Exiles, 'neath heaven's broad dome, Have been fated to suffer, to sorrow and roam, They'll bound on the sea, and away o'er the foam, They'll sail to the music of "Home, Sweet Home!" The Sword of Robert LeeForth from its scabbard, pure and bright, Flashed the sword of Lee! Far in the front of the deadly fight, High o'er the brave in the cause of Right, Its stainless sheen, like a beacon light, Led us to Victory!

    Out of its scabbard, where, full long, It slumbered peacefully, Roused from its rest by the battle's song, Shielding the feeble, smiting the strong, Guarding the right, avenging the wrong, Gleamed the sword of Lee!

    Forth from its scabbard, high in air Beneath Virginia's sky —— And they who saw it gleaming there, And knew who bore it, knelt to swear That where that sword led they would dare To follow —— and to die!

    Out of its scabbard! Never hand Waved sword from stain as free, Nor purer sword led braver band, Nor braver bled for a brighter land, Nor brighter land had a cause so grand, Nor cause a chief like Lee!

    Forth from its scabbard! How we prayed That sword might victor be; And when our triumph was delayed, And many a heart grew sore afraid, We still hoped on while gleamed the blade Of noble Robert Lee!

    Forth from its scabbard all in vain Bright flashed the sword of Lee; 'Tis shrouded now in its sheath again, It sleeps the sleep of our noble slain, Defeated, yet without a stain, Proudly and peacefully!

    LifeA baby played with the surplice sleeve Of a gentle priest; while in accents low, The sponsors murmured the grand "I believe," And the priest bade the mystic waters to flow In the name of the Father, and the Son, And Holy Spirit —— Three in One.

    Spotless as a lily's leaf, Whiter than the Christmas snow; Not a sign of sin or grief, And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

    A smile flitted over the baby's face: Or was it the gleam of its angel's wing Just passing then, and leaving a trace Of its presence as it soared to sing? A hymn when words and waters win To grace and life a child of sin.

    Not an outward sign or token, That a child was saved from woe; But the bonds of sin were broken, And the babe laughed, sweet and low.

    A cloud rose up to the mother's eyes, And out of the cloud grief's rain fell fast; Came the baby's smiles, and the mother's sighs, Out of the future, or the past? Ah! gleam and gloom must ever meet, And gall must mingle with the sweet.

    Yea, upon the baby's laughter Trickled tears: 'tis ever so —— Mothers dread the dark hereafter; But the babe laughed sweet and low.

    And the years like waves broke on the shore Of the mother's heart, and her baby's life; But her lone heart drifted away before Her little boy knew an hour of strife; Drifted away on a Summer's eve, Ere the orphaned child knew how to grieve

    Her humble grave was gently made Where roses bloomed in Summer's glow; The wild birds sang where her heart was laid, And her boy laughed sweet and low.

    He drifted away from his mother's grave, Like a fragile flower on a great stream's tide, Till he heard the moan of the mighty wave, That welcomed the stream to the ocean wide. Out from the shore and over the deep, He sailed away and learned to weep.

    Furrowed grew the face once fair, Under storms of human woe; Silvered grew the dark brown hair, And he wailed so sad and low.

    The years swept on as erst they swept, Bright wavelets once, dark billows now; Wherever he sailed he ever wept, A cloud hung over the darkened brow —— Over the deep and into the dark, But no one knew where sank his bark.

    Wild roses watched his mother's tomb, The world still laughed, 'tis ever so —— God only knows the baby's doom, That laughed so sweet and low.

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