Chisel the likeness of The Chief,
Not in gaiety, nor grief;
Change not by your art to stone,
Ireland's laugh, or Ireland's moan.
Dark her tale, and none can tell
Its fearful chronicle so well.
Her frame is bent-her wounds are deep
Who, like him, her woes can weep?
He can be gentle as a bride,
While none can rule with kinglier pride;
Calm to hear, and wise to prove,
Yet gay as lark in soaring love.
Well it were, posterity
Should have some image of his glee;
That easy humour, blossoming
Like the thousand flowers of spring!
Glorious the marble which could show
His bursting sympathy for woe:
Could catch the pathos, flowing wild,
Like mother's milk to craving child.
And oh! how princely were the art
Could mould his mien, or tell his heart
When sitting sole on Tara's hill,
While hung a million on his will!
Yet, not in gaiety, nor grief,
Chisel the image of our Chief,
Nor even in that haughty hour
When a nation owned his power.
But would you by your art unroll
His own, and Ireland's secret soul,
And give to other times to scan
The greatest greatness of the man?
Fierce defiance let him be
Hurling at our enemy-
From a base as fair and sure
As our love is true and pure;
Let his statue rise as tall
And firm as a castle wall;
On his broad brow let there be
A type of Ireland's history;
Pious, generous, deep and warm,
Strong and changeful as a storm;
Let whole centuries of wrong
Upon his recollection throng-
Strongbow's force, and Henry's wile,
Tudor's wrath, and Stuart's guile,
And iron Strafford's tiger jaws,
And brutal Brunswick's penal laws;
Not forgetting Saxon faith,
Not forgetting Norman scath,
Not forgetting William's word,
Not forgetting Cromwell's sword.
Let the Union's fetter vile
The shame and ruin of our isle
Let the blood of 'Ninety-Eight
And our present blighting fate
Let the poor mechanic's lot,
And the peasant's ruined cot,
Plundered wealth and glory flown,
Ancient honours overthrown
Let trampled altar, rifled urn,
Knit his look to purpose stern.
Mould all this into one thought,
Like wizard cloud with thunder fraught;
Still let our glories through it gleam,
Like fair flowers through a flooded stream,
Or like a flashing wave at night,
Bright,-'mid the solemn darkness, bright.
Let the memory of old days
Shine through the statesman's anxious face
Dathi's power, and Brian's fame,
And headlong Sarsfield's sword of flame;
And the spirit of Red Hugh,
And the pride of 'Eighty-Two,
And the victories he won,
And the hope that leads him on!
Let whole armies seem to fly
From his threatening hand and eye.
Be the strength of all the land
Like a falchion in his hand,
And be his gesture sternly grand.
A braggart tyrant swore to smite
A people struggling for their right;
O'Connell dared him to the field,
Content to die but never yield;
Fancy such a soul as his,
In a moment such as this,
Like cataract, or foaming tide,
Or army charging in its pride.
Thus he spoke, and thus he stood,
Proffering in our cause his blood.
Thus his country loves him best
To image this is your behest.
Chisel thus, and thus alone,
If to man you'd change the stone.
Thomas Davis's Other Poems
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