The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

To My Eldest Child

My little firstborn daughter sweet—

My child, yet half of alien race—

England and Ireland surely meet,

Their feuds forgotten, in thy face.

To both these lands I'd have thee give

Thy maiden heart, surrendered free;

For both alike I'd have thee live,

Since both alike do live in thee.

In thee they lay their strife aside,

That were so worn with dire unrest,

These whom the waters parted wide,

But who commingle in thy breast.

These will I teach thee to revere,

To love, and serve, and understand;

Nor chide thee if thou hold more dear

Thy mother's than thy father's land.

The English fields, in sun and rain,

Were round about thee at thy birth;

But thou shalt ache with Ireland's pain,

And thou shalt laugh with Ireland's mirth.

Thou shalt be taught her noble songs,

And thou shalt grieve whene'er is told

The story of her ancient wrongs,

The story of her sorrows old.

And often, in thy English home,

Her voice will call, and thou obey.

Thy heart will cross the sundering foam,

Thy soul to Ireland sail away

Ah, little flower! in Irish ground

Thy roots are deeper than the sea,

Though English woodlands murmured round

The house of thy nativity.

Of both these peoples thou wert born,

Of both these lands thou art the child;

A symbol of the radiant morn

That shall behold them reconciled.