The Spirit of the Nation/The Irish Maiden to her Lover
THE IRISH MAIDEN TO HER LOVER.
O, tell me not love's light, and joyous tale;
Sing not to me love's soft delicious lay;
But let thy tale be sad—thy strains the wail
Of men enslaved—let not thy song be gay
Tune not thy harp to joy. No merry sound
Should wake its captive chords to melody,
Each gladsome note is to my soul a wound,
For Erin wears the chains of slavery.
And if thy fingers wake, perhaps, a strain
Of joy, in passing heedless o'er the chords.
Let not thy voice re-echo it again—
Let not its brightness pass into thy words.
No; rather sing of death and of the grave,
Then will thy lay claim more of sympathy;
These are the themes that best befit the slave,
For death at least will make the bondsman free.
Then sing not now the melting lay of love,
Its notes should not be uttered by a slave;
But if thou wouldst thy heart's devotion prove,
Recover first the freedom Heaven gave;
Then when that first, best gift thou shalt regain,
A willing ear I'll lend thy minstrelsy;
But sing not to me love's light, joyous strain
Till thou canst say—"My native land is free."