John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

In Bohemia - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

I'D rather live in Bohemia than in any other land;
For only there are the values true,
And the laurels gathered in all men's view.
The prizes of traffic and state are won
By shrewdness or force or by deeds undone;
But fame is sweeter without the feud,
And the wise of Bohemia are never shrewd.
Here, pilgrims stream with a faith sublime
From every class and clime and time,
Aspiring only to be enrolled
With the names that are writ in the book of gold;
And each one bears in mind or hand
A palm of the dear Bohemian land.
The scholar first, with his book—a youth
Aflame with the glory of harvested truth;
A girl with a picture, a man with a play,
A boy with a wolf he has modeled in clay;
A smith with a marvelous hilt and sword,
A player, a king, a plowman, a lord—
And the player is king when the door is past.
The plowman is crowned, and the lord is last!

I'd rather fail in Bohemia than win in another land;
There are no titles inherited there,
No hoard or hope for the brainless heir;
No gilded dullard native born
To stare at his fellow with leaden scorn:
Bohemia has none but adopted sons;
Its limits, where Fancy's bright stream runs;
Its honors, not garnered for thrift or trade,
But for beauty and truth men's souls have made.
To the empty heart in a jeweled breast
There is value, maybe, in a purchased crest;
But the thirsty of soul soon learn to know
The moistureless froth of the social show;
The vulgar sham of the pompous feast
Where the heaviest purse is the highest priest;
The organized charity, scrimped and iced,
In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ;
The smile restrained, the respectable cant,
When a friend in need is a friend in want;
Where the only aim is to keep afloat,
And a brother may drown with a cry in his throat.
Oh, I long for the glow of a kindly heart and the grasp of a friendly hand,
And I'd rather live in Bohemia than in any other land.


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 20, 2012



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