The Spirit of the Nation/The Trampled Land



I saw a nation sunk in grief—
I heard a nation's wail;
And their deep-toned misery was caught
By every passing gale.
Want guarded every peasant's door,
Swept each mechanic's board;
Yet the earth had teemed—but only teemed
To swell the rich man's hoard;
I saw the nobles of that land
In pride and pomp roll by;
And I read contempt for the poor man's lot,
In every haughty eye.


I heard the infant's cry for bread—
The mother's piercing shriek;
And I marked the trace of famine in
The father's sunken cheek.
I saw him cast his eye to heaven
With a stern and sad appeal;
And I knew he felt that anguish deep
Which the hopeless only feel.
Yet still the nobles of that land
In pride and pomp rolled by;
Nor less contempt for the poor man's lot
Marked every haughty eye!


The People humbly sued for bread,
But their rulers "gave a stone:"
And they steeled their sordid hearts and mocked
The peasant's dying groan!
"Low rents, cheap bread," the people cried—
"Untrammel labour's hands!"
"Taxed corn, high rents, low wages," sneered
The callous ruling bands!
And the manlords of that land rolled by
To church in pomp and pride!
And the people's dying wail despised,
And the people's power defied!


Then madness came upon the land,
'Twas the madness of despair,
Unarmed crowds went forth—to beg!
With shouts that rent the air![1]
And the rulers grinned a ghastly smile
Of triumph and delight,
As forth their minions came to crush,
The weak with armed might;
And the landlords of that land surveyed,
With bland approving eye,
The savage and the ruthless war
Of stern monopoly!


Now the council of that nation sits
Again in grave divan;
But care they aught for liberty,
Or for the rights of man?
A coxcomb's proclamations claim
Discussion fierce and strong;
But a starving nation's loud appeals
Unheeded pass along!
And still the cumberers of the earth
Contrive to hold in chains
The nerve and sinew of the land
Throughout their wide domains.


And shall this state of thraldom last?
Can Heaven's approving eye,
Through clouds of blood look placidly
On such vile tyranny?
No! brethren, no; 'twere blasphemy
These doubtings to maintain.
Up! right your wrongs, let despots sink,
Be freemen once again.
Go! tell the locusts that the earth
Shall yield the food you crave,
Or   * * * * *
Shall   * * * *

  1. Skibbereen, Waterford, &c. The claims of the people upon these occasions was, to be freed of a tax which the landowners alone ought to bear.