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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee 1825–68

The Celtic Cross


THROUGH storm and fire and gloom, I see it stand,

Firm, broad, and tall,

The Celtic Cross that marks our Father-land,

Amid them all!

Druids and Danes and Saxons vainly rage

Around its base;

It standeth shock on shock, and age on age,

Star of our scatter’d race.

O Holy Cross! dear symbol of the dread

Death of our Lord,

Around thee long have slept our martyr dead

Sward over sward.

An hundred bishops I myself can count

Among the slain:

Chiefs, captains, rank and file, a shining mount

Of God’s ripe grain.

The monarch’s mace, the Puritan’s claymore,

Smote thee not down;

On headland steep, on mountain summit hoar,

In mart and town,

In Glendalough, in Ara, in Tyrone,

We find thee still,

Thy open arms still stretching to thine own,

O’er town and lough and hill.

And would they tear thee out of Irish soil,

The guilty fools!

How time must mock their antiquated toil

And broken tools!

Cranmer and Cromwell from thy grasp retir’d,

Baffled and thrown;

William and Anne to sap thy site conspir’d,—

The rest is known.

Holy Saint Patrick, father of our faith,

Belov’d of God!

Shield thy dear Church from the impending scaith,

Or, if the rod

Must scourge it yet again, inspire and raise

To emprise high

Men like the heroic race of other days,

Who joyed to die.

Fear! wherefore should the Celtic people fear

Their Church’s fate?

The day is not—the day was never near—

Could desolate

The Destin’d Island, all whose seedy clay

Is holy ground:

Its cross shall stand till that predestin’d day

When Erin’s self is drown’d.