The Secret Key and Other Verses

To the Irish Dead

George Essex Evans

’TIS a green isle set in a silver water,
    A fairy isle where the shamrock grows.
Land of Legend, the Dream-Queen’s daughter—
    Out of the Fairies’ hands She rose.
They touched Her harp with a tender sighing,
    A spirit-song from a world afar,
They touched Her heart with a fire undying
    To fight and follow Her battle-star.

Too long, too long thro’ the grey years growing
    Feud and faction have swept between
The Thistledown and the red Rose blowing
    And the three-fold leaf of the Shamrock green;
But the seal of blood, ye shall break it never:
    With rifles grounded and bare of head
We drink to the dead who live forever
    A silent toast—To the Irish dead!

’Tis an Irish cheer on the hillside ringing,
    Where, checked and broken, the vanguards reel,
But on and upward and forward swinging,
    The glittering line of the Irish steel!
Like points of light ’mid the boulders lying
    Gleam and redden their bayonets keen.
On, thro’ the hell of their dead and dying,
    Forward, forward, the Shamrock green!

To Ireland, set in the silver water,
    To the fighting blood that is proved and tried—
Our sharpest sword and our fairest daughter—
    Who saved the Empire and turned the tide!
And Wisdom comes as the days grow older,
    We are done with the faults of the past, I ween,
Standing together, shoulder to shoulder,
    The Thistle, the Rose, and the Shamrock green!

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