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From “Irish Melodies”. 28. Oh! Blame Not the Bard
OH! blame not the bard, if he fly to the bowers Where Pleasure lies, carelessly smiling at Fame; He was born for much more, and in happier hours His soul might have burn’d with a holier flame. The string, that now languishes loose o’er the lyre, Might have bent a proud bow to the warrior’s dart; And the lip, which now breathes but the song of desire Might have pour’d the full tide of a patriot’s heart. But alas for his country! — her pride is gone by, And that spirit is broken which never would bend; O’er the ruin her children in secret must sigh, For ’tis treason to love her, and death to defend. Unprized are her sons, till they’ve learn’d to betray; Undistinguish’d they live, if they shame not their sires; And the torch, that would light them through dignity’s way, Must be caught from the pile where their country expires. Then blame not the bard, if in pleasure’s soft dream He should try to forget what he never can heal: Oh! give but a hope — let a vista but gleam Through the gloom of his country, and mark how he’ll feel! That instant, his heart at her shrine would lay down Every passion it nursed, every bliss it adored; While the myrtle, now idly entwined with his crown, Like the wreath of Harmodius, should cover his sword. But though glory be gone, and though hope fade away, Thy name, loved Erin, shall live in his songs; Not even in the hour when his heart is most gay Will he lose the remembrance of thee and thy wrongs. The stranger shall hear thy lament on his plains; The sign of thy harp shall be sent o’er the deep, Till thy masters themselves, as they rivet thy chains, Shall pause at the song of their captive, and weep!
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