Erin's Flag

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

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!"

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