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

Thomas D’Arcy McGee 1825–68

The Exile’s Devotion


IF I forswear the art divine

That glorifies the dead,

What comfort then can I call mine,

What solace seek instead?

For from my birth our country’s fame

Was life to me, and love;

And for each loyal Irish name

Some garland still I wove.

I ’d rather be the bird that sings

Above the martyr’s grave,

Than fold in fortune’s cage my wings

And feel my soul a slave;

I ’d rather turn one simple verse

True to the Gaelic ear

Than sapphic odes I might rehearse

With senates listening near.

Oh, native land! dost ever mark,

When the world’s din is drown’d

Betwixt the daylight and the dark,

A wandering solemn sound

That on the western wind is borne

Across thy dewy breast?

It is the voice of those who mourn

For thee, in the far West.

For them and theirs I oft essay

Thy ancient art of song,

And often sadly turn away,

Deeming my rashness wrong;

For well I ween, a loving will

Is all the art I own:

Ah me! could love suffice for skill,

What triumphs I had known!

My native land! my native land!

Live in my memory still!

Break on my brain, ye surges grand!

Stand up, mist-cover’d hill!

Still on the mirror of the mind

The scenes I love, I see:

Would I could fly on the western wind,

My native land, to thee!