If" And "Perhaps."

A poem by Thomas Moore


Oh tidings of freedom! oh accents of hope!
Waft, waft them, ye zephyrs, to Erin's blue sea,
And refresh with their sounds every son of the Pope,
From Dingle-a-cooch to far Donaghadee.

"If mutely the slave will endure and obey,
"Nor clanking his fetters nor breathing his pains,
"His masters perhaps at some far distant day
"May think (tender tyrants!) of loosening his chains."

Wise "if" and "perhaps!"--precious salve for our wounds,
If he who would rule thus o'er manacled mutes,
Could check the free spring-tide of Mind that resounds,
Even now at his feet, like the sea at Canute's.

But, no, 'tis in vain--the grand impulse is given--
Man knows his high Charter, and knowing will claim;
And if ruin must follow where fetters are riven,
Be theirs who have forged them the guilt and the shame.

"If the slave will be silent!"--vain Soldier, beware--
There is a dead silence the wronged may assume,
When the feeling, sent back from the lips in despair,
But clings round the heart with a deadlier gloom;--

When the blush that long burned on the suppliant's cheek,
Gives place to the avenger's pale, resolute hue;
And the tongue that once threatened, disdaining to speak,
Consigns to the arm the high office--to do.

If men in that silence should think of the hour
When proudly their fathers in panoply stood,
Presenting alike a bold front-work of power
To the despot on land and the foe on the flood:--

That hour when a Voice had come forth from the west,
To the slave bringing hopes, to the tyrant alarms;
And a lesson long lookt for was taught the opprest,
That kings are as dust before freemen in arms!

If, awfuller still, the mute slave should recall
That dream of his boyhood, when Freedom's sweet day
At length seemed to break thro' a long night of thrall,
And Union and Hope went abroad in its ray;--

If Fancy should tell him, that Dayspring of Good,
Tho' swiftly its light died away from his chain,
Tho' darkly it set in a nation's best blood,
Now wants but invoking to shine out again;

If--if, I say--breathings like these should come o'er
The chords of remembrance, and thrill as they come,
Then,--perhaps--ay, perhaps--but I dare not say more;
Thou hast willed that thy slaves should be mute--I am dumb.

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