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Poem by Thomas MacDonagh


Barbara: Born 24th March, 1915


You come in the day of destiny,
    Barbara, born to the air of Mars:
The greater glory you shall see
    And the greater peace, beyond these wars.

In other days within this isle,
    As in a temple, men knew peace;
And won the world to peace a while
    Till rose the pride of Rome and Greece,--

The pride of art, the pride of power,
    The cruel empire of the mind:
Withered the light like a summer flower,
    And hearts went cold and souls went blind;

And, groping, men took other gifts,
    (God is so good), and thought them the best:
But the light lives in the soul that lifts
    The quiet love above the rest.

I have dreamt of you as the Maid of Quiet
    Entempled in ecstacy of joy,
Secure from the madness of blood and the riot
    Of fame that lures with the glory of Troy,--

Barbara, alien to Athens and Rome,
    Barbara, free from their pride of wit,
Strange to the country of Exile, at home
    In Eden, by memory and promise of it.

And so I have dreamt of your happy state
    When men go home from Troy and strife,
And wait again for the vision, and wait
    To know the secret of their life.

I have dreamt that they will find you there
    Barbaric, strange, like Seraph or Saint,
Innocent of their glory and care,
    Strong in the wit that their wit makes faint.

Yet why should I dream for you, my child?
    The deed will always out-dare the dream:
This garden go the way of wild :
    These things will change from what they seem;

They will change to the glory they knew of old
    In the old barbaric way of the world
That flames again in the hearts that were cold
      That flings to the winds the flags that were furled.

For the old flags wave again, like trees:
      The forest will come with the timid things
That are stronger than the dynasties,
    As your curls are stronger than iron rings.

When the life of the cities of Europe goes
      The way of Memphis and Babylon,
In Ireland still the mystic rose
      Will shine as it of old has shone.

O rose of Grace!  O rare wild flower,
    Whose seeds are sent on the wings of Light!
O secret rose, our doom, our dower,
    Black with the passion of our night;

Be bright again in the heart of this child,
    In peace, in trembling joy made known!
Let Exile and Eden be reconciled
    For her on earth, in wild and sown!

Be one, my child, with that which returns
    As sure as Spring, to the arid earth
(When the hearth lies cold the wild fire burns:
    When the sown lies dead the wild gives birth).

Be one with Nature, with that which begins,
    One with the fruitful power of God:
A virtue clean among our sins,
    'Mid the stones of our ruin a flowering rod.

And, against the Greek, be one with the Gael,
    One knowledge of God against all human,
One sacred gift that shall not fail,
    One with the Gael against the Roman.

So may you go the barbaric way
    That the earth may be Paradise anew,
And Troy from memory pass away,
    And the pride of wit be naught to you.



Thomas MacDonagh


Thomas MacDonagh's other poems:
  1. I Heard a Music Sweet To-day
  2. To a Wise Man
  3. The Rain It Raineth
  4. Averil
  5. In Dread


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