Lines To A Shamrock - A Song Of Exile

A poem by Nora Pembroke

A withered shamrock, yet to me 'tis fair
As the sweet rose to other eyes might be,
Because its leaves spread in my native air,
And the same land gave birth to it and me.

They were as plentiful as drops of dew
In our green meadows sprinkled everywhere,
Heedless I wandered o'er them life was new,
Now as a friend I greet thee shamrock fair

Because I dwelt with my own people then,
Erin's bright eyes, and kindly hearts and true,
That from my cradle loved me, and again
We'll never meet--spoken our last adieu

I am a stranger here, I have not seen
One friendly face of all that I have known,
And my heart mourns for thee my island green,
Because I am a stranger and alone

So thou art welcome as a friend to me,
Tell me where lay the sod that brought thee forth,
Idly I wonder as I look at thee
If thou hast come, as I did, from the North?

From the green glens that he beside the sea
From cloud capt Sleive mis of the shamrock vest?
From near old castles, where the dread banshee
Waits for the native lords when laid to rest?

Or did the tartaned stranger call thee where
Mount Cashel's Lord rules o'er a fair domain?
Or grass grown ruin all that's left to bear
Of a lost race the all but fading name?

The lovely Maine lingers in flowing through
The peaceful place that was my childhood's home,
Myriads of shamrocks on its margin grew,
Was it from these thy sisters thou hast come?

Such fair broad meadows by Maine water lay,
Erin her mantle green for carpet spread,
In merry childhood there we met to play,
Dashing the dew from many a shamrock's head.

Where sleep the village dead there is a spot
That's dearer far than all the rest to me;
It's interwoven with full many a thought,
And with my young heart's childish history.

She was most fair that sleeps that sod beneath;
The fair form shrined a soul akin to mine,
And the sharp pain of heart ties cut by death,
Has softened been but left unhealed by time

And Erin spread her skirt across her grave,
And there were shamrocks nestling on the breast,
And blue bells and all flowers that softly wave,
Making more beautiful her place of rest.

If 'twas from there the stranger gathered thee
I would forgive the sacrilege, and thou
A precious relic to my breast would be,
Nor prized the less because thou'rt withered now.

Ah me! I know thou canst not answer me,
Yet sight of thee must all these thoughts awake;
Enough, from mine own land thou comest, thou'lt be
Welcome to Erin's child alone for Erin's sake.

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