James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

October 19

The Kinship of the Celt

By Joseph I. C. Clarke (1846–1925)

  • Commemorating the Battle of Yorktown, Oct. 19, 1781.

  • “IT’S the flag of France! the flag of France, I see!

    Life to it! Health to it! fold on fold,

    With the silken glint on its colors three.

    Yet if it was white with lilies of gold—

    The flag of a king—but the banner of France.

    With the flag of stars our love ’twould share,

    And, my soul, I’m for either with sword or lance.

    It’s a people we love not the flag they bear.

    Let the seas divide; let the green earth hide,

    And the long years come and go,

    When love has once dwelt in the heart of the Celt.

    It is there while the waters flow.”

    “And why do you Irish love France? It seems right

    When we sons of Plymouth read how they came,

    And shouldered their guns in the Yorktown fight,

    To feel grateful, and honor that nation’s name.

    To see plain Ben Franklin sit down with their king,

    And Rochambeau join Lafayette on guard,

    ’Longside of George Washington, and,—by jing!

    Paul Jones on the deck of Bonhomme Richard!

    Oh, it stirs us yet; no, we don’t forget

    The days between storm and shine,

    With the ships of the French, and their men in the trench

    And their rush on the fighting line.”

    “The love of old Ireland for France? It has been

    In the first low lilt of our cradle croon;

    Has twined with our longing for ‘Wearing the Green;’

    Has been wet with the tears of our ‘Shule Aroon.’

    No new love can bid it to wither and fall;

    Its roots have sunk in the deep past, and are strong

    As the long, long mem’ry that marks out the Gael

    For loving old love and rememb’ring old wrong.

    Where the strong hands clasp, in the true man’s grasp

    And the stout soul finds its mate,

    Let the great doors swing and the great bells ring

    For the love that laughs at fate.

    “To France for a hundred sad years we turned

    As our only friend and our hope-lit star.

    And never our banished ones’ prayers she spurned

    But mustered for Ireland her lords of war.

    Oh, the French on the sea, and the pikes on the plain,

    The battle-joy strong in the eyes and breast;

    And if in our Ireland their valor was vain,

    God prospered their arms in the land of the West.

    Man strikes and prays, but God’s dim ways

    Direct the red bolt that’s hurled,

    And the staggering blow of Rochambeau

    Broke chains all round the world.

    “They flung wide their halls to our priests and our youth,

    When our schools were razed and our faith was banned;

    They sent us the swords of De Tesse and St. Ruth.

    And Humbert and Hoche to strike for our land.

    And we, poor in all but our lives and our blades,

    Sent Sarsfield and Dillon, O’Brien, O’Neill

    And the passionate stream of the Irish brigades,

    The sire of MacMahon went there with his steel.

    With the years as they go, may its glory grow,

    Fair France of the generous hand!

    As for freedom it stood with its gold and its blood,

    Still free and superb may it stand.

    “From the loins of the grand old Celtic race,

    Our fathers and theirs came stalwart and twin,

    Wherever we’ve met on the round world’s face,

    Our souls knew their souls for clansman and kin,

    And by us, who on many a blood-red field,

    Poured out of our best by the best of France,

    The compact of kinship again shall be sealed,

    Whenever for freedom her colors advance.

    May health and grace greet the Celtic race—

    The Gaul and Gael—on sea and shore!

    And the green banner ride the wide heavens beside

    The starry flag and the tricolor!”