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Ireland – 1916

Catholic Press 11th September, 1919 p.6

Photo: EO'D

Photo: EO’D

This fine verse, which appeared in the “Bulletin” of the 19th ult. was, says the editor, censored while a Labour Government was in power in the Commonwealth. An appeal was made from the Censor to Ministers. Hugh Mahon came into conflict with his colleagues over it; but permission to publish it was still refused.

Ireland – 1916

All I revered was this my Island, she
Whom through the granite years I wept and loved;
All that I wished, to make my Island free
Of blood from mine a universe removed;
To seat here where the younger nations sit,
Her soul stripped clean of ancient sorrowings,
To dream my dream of Brian and the Kings,
To clothe my dream in flesh and worship it.
For this I bound the falcon to my side
In sinless sinning! For these things I died!

Right of the stronger, when the Norman came,
Rogued me and ravished me and buffeted,
Blackened and scotched my heart with steel and flame,
Cinctured with thorns my felon-shaven head.
The needy Frank and Gascon venturer,
Glutted from Senlac, hot for gear and gold,
Parcelled my land in march and baron-hold,
Hoarse-laughing at the comely shame of her,
Tortured but could not tame my plaintless pride.
This I remember, and for this I died!

Bruised and unbroken, swathed in sweat and rags,
Sobbing, yet valiant, shattered but unspent,
Housed in the bogland, hiding in the crags,
Dying a dog’s death, grim and well-content,
My poet soul out-daring dearth and death
Bondman of every motley creed and crew
Drank at the bitter cup of cycles, knew
The “spacious days of great Elizabeth”
If this I should forget, Christ and the Bride
Forget me also! For this, too, I died!

I was the spoil of all the centuries,
And am forgotten. Later wrongs outweigh
Mine, for the grief of men looks overseas,
And Belgium was the spoil of yesterday.
Can Time’s effluxion make injustice just?
Men’s memories are facile to forget
Poland’s Gethsemane and bloody sweat,
And the long grief that stamped my heart to dust!
O age-sought recompense by men denied,
By this I seek you, and for this I died!

Scotland I know, and how her valour’s crown,
Hard-won, scarce-held by scarp and mountain sleep,
Shone on her helm the hardy decades down,
Guarding the freedom that I could not keep;
And by the crown she linked at last with hers,
As by the nationhood I loved as she,
I swore it on my cross-hilt wistfully
My sons should be my land’s real worshippers.
And this my oath, sworn by the Crucified,
I held and hold to – and therefor I died!

Shall mercy spring from dull hearts trebly stoned?
Shall alien blood and alien creed allot
Betrayal where no fealty is owned,
Disloyalty where loyalty is not?
My blood upon the roadway reddens yet,
The iron of the years is in my soul,
The pen of Fate is set upon the scroll,
I am what you have made! Can I forget?
These things I cherish; is it marvel, then,
I died for them, as I shall die again!

J. Alex. Allen
Victoria

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