John Boyle O'Reilly

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

John Mitchel - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly


I.
DEAD, with his harness on him:
Rigid and cold and white,
Marking the place of the vanguard
Still in the ancient fight.

The climber dead on the hill-side,
Before the height is won:
The workman dead on the building,
Before the work is done!

O, for a tongue to utter
The words that should be said—
Of his worth that was silver, living,
That is gold and jasper, dead!

Dead—but the death was fitting:
His life, to the latest breath,
Was poured like wax on the chart of right,
And is sealed by the stamp of Death!

Dead—but the end was fitting:
First in the ranks he led;
And he marks the height of his nation's gain,
As he lies in his harness—dead!


II.
Weep for him, Ireland—mother lonely;
Weep for the son w'ho died for thee.
Wayward he was, but he loved thee only,
Loyal and fearless as son could be.
Weep for him, Ireland—sorrowing nation
Faithful to all who are true to thee:
Never a son in thy desolation
Had holier love for thy cause than he.

Sons of the Old Land, mark the story—
Mother and son in the final test:
Weeping she sits in her darkened glory,
Holding her dead to her stricken breast.
Only the dead on her knees are lying—
Ah, poor mother beneath the cross!
Strength is won by the constant trying,
Crowns are gemmed by the tears of loss!

Sons of the Old Land, mark the story—
Mother and son to each other true:
She called, and he answered, old and hoary,
And gave her his life as a man should do.
She may weep—but for us no weeping:
Tears are vain till the work is done;
Tears for her—but for us the keeping
Our hearts as true as her faithful son.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012



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