07 April 2015

'Erin's Address to the Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee'

Verse on the 147th anniversary of the assassination of the great D'Arcy McGee. "Erin's Address to the Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee" precedes "Death of D'Arcy McGee" as the first of two poems to the politician in Nora Pembroke's Verses and Rhymes by the Way (Pembroke, ON: S.E. Mitchell, 1880).


O thou son of the dark locks and eloquent tongue,
With the brain of a statesman sagacious, and strong,
And the heart of a poet, half love, and half fire,
Thou hast many to love thee and more to admire;
But I bore thee, and nursed thee, and joyed at the fame
Which the sons of the stranger have spread round thy name,
I am Erin, green Erin, the "Gem of the sea."
Listen, then, to thy mother's voice, D'Arcy McGee.

Since the crown from my head, and the sceptre are gone
To the hand of the stranger, who held what he won,
I have borne much of sorrow, of wrong and of shame,
I've been spoken against with scorning and blame;
But still have my daughters been spotless and fair,
And my sons have been dauntless to do and to dare;
For as great as thou art and most precious to me.
Still thou art not my only one, D'Arcy McGee.

At the bar, in the senate, in cassock or gown,
Our foes being judges, they've got them renown;
On the red field of battle, of glory, of death,
They've been true to their colours and true to their faith;
And where bright swords were clashing and carnage ran high,
They have taught the stern Saxon they know how to die.
Well, no wit, poet, statesman or hero can be
More dear to my heart than thou, D'Arcy McGee.

Wild heads, may plan glories for Erin their mother,
Weak plans and wicked plans chasing each other;
To me worse than the loss of a sceptre and crown
Is a spot that might tarnish my children's renown,
'Tis the laurels they win are the jewels I prize,
They're the core of my heart and the light of my eyes;
For my children are gems and crown jewels to me,
And art thou not one of them, D'Arcy McGee!

I had one son, and, oh, need I mention his name!
He who well knew where lay both our weakness and shame;
His true, tender heart sought to measure and know
This thing, most accursed, formed of babbling and woe;
And his life did he dedicate freely, to slay
The monster that made my bright children his prey;
In the place where the wine cup flows deadly and free,
The bane of the gifted, oh D'Arcy McGee.

For so well hath the father of lies tried to fling
A false glory around it, so hiding the sting,
Saying wit gets its flash, and high genius its fire,
From the fiend that drags genius and wit through the mire.
Ah! it biteth, it stingeth, it eateth away,
And our best and our brightest it takes for its prey,
'Tis the bowl of the helot, no cup for the free,
As thou very well knowest, my D'Arcy McGee.

Hast thou risen my loved one and cast from thy name
All the shadows that darken thy life with their shame;
Thou hast raised thyself up, against wind, against tide,
Thou art high, thou art honoured, my joy and my pride;
Now the song of the drunkard is chased from thy place,
And my pride is relieved from this touch of disgrace.
Thou wilt help to make Erin "great, glorious and free,"
And I bless thee my silver-tongued D'Arcy McGee.

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