The Spirit of the Nation/The Peasant Girls

The Spirit of the Nation
The Peasant Girls by Anonymous


The Peasant Girl of merry France,
Beneath her trellis'd vine,
Watches the signal for the dance—
The broad, red sun's decline.
'Tis there—and forth she flies with glee
To join the circling band,
Whilst mirthful sounds of minstrelsy
Are heard throughout the land.

And fair Italia's Peasant Girl,
The Arno's banks beside,
With myrtle flowers that shine like pearl,
Will braid at eventide
Her raven locks; and to the sky,
With eyes of liquid light,
Look up and bid her lyre outsigh—
"Was ever land so bright?"

The Peasant Girl of England, see
With lip of rosy dye,
Beneath her sheltering cottage tree,
Smile on each passer by.
She looks on fields of yellow grain,
Inhales the bean-flower's scent,
And seems, amid the fertile plain,
An Image of content.

The Peasant Girl of Scotland goes
Across her Highland hill,
With cheek that emulates the rose,
And voice the skylark's thrill.
Her tartan plaid she folds around,
A many-coloured vest—
Type of what varied joys have found
A home in her kind breast.

The Peasant Girl of Ireland, she
Has left her cabin home,
Bearing white wreaths—what can it be
Invites her thus to roam?
Her eye has not the joyous ray
Should to her years belong;
And, as she wends her languid way,
She carols no sweet song.

Oh! soon upon the step and glance
Grief does the work of age;
And it has been her hapless chance
To open that dark page.
The happy harvest home was o'er,
The fierce tithe-gatherer came;
And her young lover, in his gore,
Fell by a murderous aim!

Then, well may youth's bright glance be gone
For ever from that eye,
And soon will sisters weep upon
The grave that she kneels by;
And well may prouder hearts than those,
That there place garlands, say—
"Have Ireland's peasant girls such woes?—
When will they pass away?"