A Prize Poem.
I know Canada is fair to see, and pleasant; it is well
On the banks of its broad river 'neath the maple trees to dwell;
But the heart is very wilful, and in sorrow or in mirth,
Mine will turn with sore love-longing to the land that gave me birth;
And I wish that, oh but once again! my longing eyes might see
The green island that lies smiling on the bosom of the sea;
That is fed with heaven's dew and the fatness of the earth,
Fanned by wild Atlantic breezes that sweep over it in mirth.
Its green robe is starred with daisies; it is brilliant fresh and fair,
With a verdure that no other spot of earth affords to wear.
It has banks of pale primroses that like bits of moonlight glow;
There are hawthorn hedges blossomed out like drifts of perfumed snow,
Bluebells swinging on their slender stems and cowslips on the lea.
I was better for the lessons they in childhood taught to me;
And still sweet is every memory, and blessed each regret
That twines round that dear island home, which our hearts cannot forget.
From where Antrim's giant columns at the north are piled on high,
The sentinels of centuries tow'ring up against the sky,
From mountain top and purple heath, from valleys fair to see,
Where streams of flashing crystal bright are flowing merrily,
To Kerry's lakes of loveliness that dimple in the sun.
'Tis fair as any spot of earth that heaven's light shines upon.
O Erin, my mother Erin, dear land more kind than wise,
I think of thee till loving tears come thronging to my eyes.
Thou hast nourished on thy bosom many sons of deathless fame;
Who, while the world will last, shall shed a lustre on thy name.
While Foyle's proud swelling waters roll past Derry to the sea;
While yet a single vestige of old Limerick's walls there be;
Shall those who love thee well, fair land, lament that feuds divide
The sons of those who for each cause stood fast on either side.
From every ruined castle grey, well may the banshee cry
O'er bitter waters once let loose that have not yet run dry
O would the blessed time might come when, party feeling done,
The noble deeds of both sides will be gathered into one!
On the battle-fields of Europe thy sons quit themselves like men,
Till those who made them exiles longed for their good swords again,
Wherever fields were fought and won, in thickest of the fray,
Where steel bit steel, thy sons have fought and laurels bore away
And thou hast bards in deathless song thy heroes' praise to sing,
Or make hearts throb responsive when for love they touch the string
Thou hast lovely, white-armed daughters so tender and so true,
As modest as the daisies, and as spotless as the dew,
With flashes of sweet merriment, and virtue still and strong
They fire the patriot's heart and charm the poet into song
Thou hast nourished those right eloquent to plead with tongue and pen,
For those eternal rights which men so oft deny to men,
And land of saints in song like mine, but little can be said
Of those who stand for God between the living and the dead
Thou'rt not without His witnesses for children of thy sod,
In lofty and in lowly life, are found who walk with God
Land of the hearty welcome! who travels thy valleys o'er
Knows more of human kindness than he ever knew before.
While some are kind to friends alone, thy sons whate'er befal
More like the blessed sun and rain have kindliness for all.
O Erin, my mother Erin! much my love would say of thee,
Were my lips but half so eloquent as my heart would have them be.
As Moses longed for Lebanon, so I long that once again
My feet might press the shamrocks in the meadows by the Maine.
Oh to see the wee brown larks again, once more to hear them sing,
As up to heaven's blessed gates they soar on tireless wing!
I'd watch them till I'd half forget the burden of my years,
And tender thoughts of childhood would well up in happy tears.
I may never see thee more, mo run, but with each breath I draw
Thou art still to me mavourneen, so an slainte leat gu bragh.