The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

The Peer's Progress
[Verses on reading that Lord Aberdeen was about to be
made Marquess of Aberdeen and Tara.]

TARA, the place of Kings, the hill of Fate—

Tara, the throne of Song, the hallowed


Tagged as a tassel to your marquessate,

Made an appurtenance of your house and


Who cares though you were marquess ten

times o'er?

Bemarquess'd or beduked—who cares a


But linked with Erin's immemorial lore,

Her memories sacrosanct, her mount of awe!

Nay, why so modest, why so humble—why

Pause, in your too meek flight, on Tara Hill?

"Marquess of Aberdeen and Sinai"—

Consider!—were not this ev'n better still?

God made me English—English through and


But, bound to Ireland by one bond supreme,

I know her soul—something unknown to you—

Her vision and her passion and her dream.

I know, as all know who have breathed her air.

How transient, how unrooted in her heart—

A mere ephemeral thing of passage there—

Were you, that in her glories claim a part.

And this last insult before gazing men—

This ignominy the bitterest yet by far—

She will remember and forgive not, when

You in Time's volume an erasure are.

You, soon enough, will be by her forgot;

Lodged in some suburb of her thoughts were


But this will as a proverb live, of what

Dull, sightless, soulless statesmanship can do.

This profanation, blind and coarse and crude,

Of things the holiest held, from sea to sea,

This is immortal as Ineptitude,

This is eternal as Stupidity.

And ev'n to this, from all the ages past.

Through all the long self-torturings, Ireland


Left to her disillusions at the last,

And Tara fall'n—a pendant to your name.*


1. The distinguished nobleman chose afterwards another title in lieu of the one at first contemplated