A Shamrock From The Irish Shore.

A poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy

(On receiving a Shamrock in a Letter from Ireland.)

O postman! speed thy tardy gait--
Go quicker round from door to door;
For thee I watch, for thee I wait,
Like many a weary wanderer more.
Thou brightest news of bale and bliss--
Some life begun, some life well o'er.
He stops--he rings!--O heaven! what's this?--
A shamrock from the Irish shore!

Dear emblem of my native land,
By fresh fond words kept fresh and green;
The pressure of an unfelt hand--
The kisses of a lip unseen;
A throb from my dead mother's heart--
My father's smile revived once more--
Oh, youth! oh, love! oh, hope thou art,
Sweet shamrock from the Irish shore!

Enchanter, with thy wand of power,
Thou mak'st the past be present still:
The emerald lawn--the lime-leaved bower--
The circling shore--the sunlit hill;
The grass, in winter's wintriest hours,
By dewy daisies dimpled o'er,
Half hiding, 'neath their trembling flowers,
The shamrock of the Irish shore!

And thus, where'er my footsteps strayed,
By queenly Florence, kingly Rome--
By Padua's long and lone arcade--
By Ischia's fires and Adria's foam--
By Spezzia's fatal waves that kissed
My poet sailing calmly o'er;
By all, by each, I mourned and missed
The shamrock of the Irish shore!

I saw the palm-tree stand aloof,
Irresolute 'twixt the sand and sea:
I saw upon the trellised roof
Outspread the wine that was to be;
A giant-flowered and glorious tree
I saw the tall magnolia soar;
But there, even there, I longed for thee,
Poor shamrock of the Irish shore!

Now on the ramparts of Boulogne,
As lately by the lonely Rance,
At evening as I watch the sun,
I look! I dream! Can this be France
Not Albion's cliffs, how near they be,
He seems to love to linger o'er;
But gilds, by a remoter sea,
The shamrock on the Irish shore!

I'm with him in that wholesome clime--
That fruitful soil, that verdurous sod--
Where hearts unstained by vulgar crime
Have still a simple faith in God:
Hearts that in pleasure and in pain,
The more they're trod rebound the more,
Like thee, when wet with heaven's own rain,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

Memorial of my native land,
True emblem of my land and race--
Thy small and tender leaves expand
But only in thy native place.
Thou needest for thyself and seed
Soft dews around, kind sunshine o'er;
Transplanted thou'rt the merest weed,
O shamrock of the Irish shore.

Here on the tawny fields of France,
Or in the rank, red English clay,
Thou showest a stronger form perchance;
A bolder front thou mayest display,
More able to resist the scythe
That cut so keen, so sharp before;
But then thou art no more the blithe
Bright shamrock of the Irish shore!

Ah, me! to think--thy scorns, thy slights,
Thy trampled tears, thy nameless grave
On Fredericksburg's ensanguined heights,
Or by Potomac's purpled wave!
Ah, me! to think that power malign
Thus turns thy sweet green sap to gore,
And what calm rapture might be thine,
Sweet shamrock of the Irish shore!

Struggling, and yet for strife unmeet,
True type of trustful love thou art;
Thou liest the whole year at my feet,
To live but one day at my heart.
One day of festal pride to lie
Upon the loved one's heart--what more?
Upon the loved one's heart to die,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

And shall I not return thy love?
And shalt thou not, as thou shouldst, be
Placed on thy son's proud heart above
The red rose or the fleur-de-lis?
Yes, from these heights the waters beat,
I vow to press thy cheek once more,
And lie for ever at thy feet,
O shamrock of the Irish shore!

Boulogne-sur-Mer, March 17, 1865.

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