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The Spirit of the Nation/What's my Thought like?


"What's my thought like?
"How is it like? &c.
"What would you do with it?"



What's my thought like?—What's my thought like?
—Like a column tumbled down—
Its noble shaft and capital with moss and weeds o'ergrown!
How is my thought so like unto a column thus laid low;
Because your thought is Ireland now—laid prostrate, even so!
What with it would you do?—oh, say—what with it would you do?
Upraise it from the earth again, aloft to mankind's view.
A sign unto all those that mourn, throughout earth's vast domain,
That Heaven rewards the patient, and will make them joy again.


What's my thought like?—What's my thought like?
—Like a gallant ship on shore!
Dismasted all and helpless now, amid the breakers' roar!
Her crew, so faithful once to her, each seeking plank and spar,
To 'scape from her and safety seek, upon the land afar.
How is my thought like such poor ship in peril and distress?
Because your thought is Ireland now, whose peril is no less!
What with it would you do?—oh, say—what with it would you do?
Like to some few but faithful hearts among such vessel's crew—
Stand by her to the last I would! and die, if so decreed,
Ere man should dare to say to me, You failed her at her need!


What's my thought like?—What's my thought like?
—Like a land by Nature bless'd
Beyond most other lands on earth—and yet the most distressed
A teeming soil—abounding streams—wide havens—genial air—
And yet a People ever plunged in suffering and care!
Eight millions of a noble race—high-minded, pure, and good—
Kept subject to a petty gang—a miserable brood!
Strong but in England's constant hate, and help to keep us down,
And blast the smiles of Nature fair, with man's unholy frown.
How is it like my thought, again?—How is it like my thought?
Because your thought is Ireland's self—and even thus her lot!
What with it would you do, again—What with it would you do?
Work even to the death I would, to rive her chain in two!
To help her 'gainst unnatural sons, and foreign foemen's rage,
And all her hapless People's woes and bitter griefs assuage;
Bid them be happy now, at length, in this their rescued land—
That land no longer marked and cursed with slav'ry's withering brand!
No longer Slave to England!—but her Sister, if she will—
Prompt to give friendly aid at need, and to forget all ill!
But holding high her head, and with serenest brow
Claiming, amid Earth's nations all, her fitting station now!
This is my thought—it is your thought.
—If thus each Irish heart
Will only think and purpose thus, henceforth, to act its part,
Full soon their honest boast shall be—that she was made by them
Great, Glorious, Free!—the Earth's first Flower!
The Ocean's brightest Gem!