BETA

IRELAND—1849.

AUTUMNAL DIRGE.

Then die, thou Year—thy work is done :1
The work ill done is done at last.2
Far off, beyond that sinking sun,3
Which sets in blood, I hear the blast4
That sings thy dirge, and says— “ Ascend,5
And answer make amid thy peers,6
(Since all things here must have an end,)7
Thou latest of the famine years ! ”8
I join that voice. No joy have I9
In all thy purple and thy gold,10
Nor in the nine-fold harmony11
From forest on to forest rolled :12
Nor in that stormy western fire,13
Which burns on ocean’s gloomy bed,14
And hurls, as from a funeral pyre,15
A glare that strikes the mountain’s head ;16
And writes on low-hung clouds its lines17
Of cyphered flame, with hurrying hand ;18
And flings amid the topmost pines19
That crown the steep, a burning brand.20
Make answer, Year, for all thy dead,21
Who found not rest in hallowed earth,22
The widowed wife, the father fled,23
The babe age-stricken from his birth.24
Make answer, Year, for virtue lost ;25
For Faith, that vanquished fraud and force,26
Now waning like a noontide ghost ;27
Affections poisoned at their source :28
The labourer spurned his lying spade ;29
The yeoman spurned his useless plough ;30
The pauper spurned the unwholesome aid,31
Obtruded once, exhausted now.32
The weaver wove till all was dark,33
And, long ere morning, bent and bowed34
Above his work with fingers stark ;35
And made, nor knew he made, a shroud.36
The roof-trees fall of hut and hall,37
I hear them fall, and falling cry38
One fate for each, One fate for all ;39
So wills the Law that willed a lie.”40
Dread power of Man !  what spread the waste41
In circles, hour by hour more wide,42
And would not let the past be past ! —43
The Law that promised much, and lied.44
Dread power of God !  whom mortal years45
Nor touch, nor tempt ; who sitt’st sublime46
In night of night,—O bid thy spheres47
Resound at last a funeral chime.48
Call up, at last, the afflicted Race49
Whom Man not God abolished. Sore,50
For centuries, their strife : the place51
That knew them once shall know no more.52