Lady Jane Wilde

(27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896)

The Exodus - Poem by Lady Jane Wilde

“A Million A Decade!” Calmly and cold
The units are read by our statesmen sage;
Little they think of a Nation old,
Fading away from History’s page;
Outcast weeds by a desolate sea
Fallen leaves of Humanity.

“A million a decade!”—of human wrecks,
Corpses lying in fever sheds
Corpses huddled on foundering decks,
And shroudless dead on their rocky beds;
Nerve and muscle, and heart and brain,
Lost to Ireland—lost in vain.

“A million a decade!” Count ten by ten,
Column and line of the record fair;
Each unit stands for ten thousand men,
Staring with blank, dead eye‐balls there;
Strewn like blasted trees on the sod,
Men that were made in the image of God.

“A million a decade!”—and nothing done;
The Cæsars had less to conquer a world;
And the war for the Right not yet begun,
The banner of Freedom not yet unfurled:
The soil is fed by the weed that dies;
If forest leaves fall, yet they fertilise.

But ye—dead, dead, not climbing the height,
Not clearing a path for the future to tread;
Not opening the golden portals of light,
Ere the gate was choked by your piled‐up dead:
Martyrs ye, yet never a name
Shines on the golden roll of Fame.

Had ye rent one gyve of the festering chain,
Strangling the life of the Nation’s soul;
Poured your life‐blood by river and plain,
Yet touched with your dead hand Freedom’s goal;
Left of heroes one footprint more
On our soil, tho’ stamped in your gore

We could triumph while mourning the brave,
Dead for all that was holy and just,
And write, through our tears, on the grave,
As we flung down the dust to dust
“They died for their country, but led
Her up from the sleep of the dead.”
“A million a decade!” What does it mean?
A Nation dying of inner decay
A churchyard silence where life has been
The base of the pyramid crumbling away:
A drift of men gone over the sea,
A drift of the dead where men should be.

Was it for this ye plighted your word,
Crowned and crownless rulers of men?
Have ye kept faith with your crucified Lord,
And fed His sheep till He comes again?
Or fled like hireling shepherds away,
Leaving the fold the gaunt wolf’s prey?

Have ye given of your purple to cover,
Have ye given of your gold to cheer,
Have ye given of your love, as a lover
Might cherish the bride he held dear,
Broken the Sacrament‐bread to feed
Souls and bodies in uttermost need?

Ye stand at the Judgment‐bar to‐day
The Angels are counting the dead‐roll, too;
Have ye trod in the pure and perfect way,
And ruled for God as the crowned should do?
Count our dead—before Angels and Men,
Ye’re judged and doomed by the Statist’s pen.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 2, 2012

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