Full many a year, close side by side,
A shamrock grew and London pride:
Together how they came to grow
I do not care, nor do I know;
But this I know, that overhead
A laurel cast a wholesome shade.
The shamrock was of lovely green
In early days as e’er was seen;
And she had many a hardy son
In days of old, but they are gone—
For soon the other’s creeping shoots
Did steal themselves around Shamrock’s roots.
Then, thief-like, fastened in her soil,
And sucked the sap of poor Trefoil;
Until in time pert London pride
Got up so high as quite to hide
Poor shamrock, who could seldom see
The sun’s bright face, nor seen was she,
Save when an adverse blast did blow,
And laid her neighbour’s honours low.
Then, in the angry lady’s spite,
She drank the show’r, she saw the light,
She bath’d her sicklied charms in dew,
And gathered health and strength anew.
She saw those joys had come from heaven
And ne’er were by her neighbour given;
Yet, her good nature aye to prove,
She paid her jealous hate with love.
But when once more kind zephyrs came,
And raised the o’ergrown, storm-bent dame,
The ingrate strove her all to take,
And forced poor shamrock thus to speak:
‘Neighbour, we’re born with equal right
To feel yon sun and see his light,
T’enjoy the blessings of this earth
Or if right follows prior birth,
In this still stronger is my claim—
Long was I known and great my fame,
Before the world e’er heard thy name.
But letting all these strong claims lie,
Pray tell me, is it policy,
To thwart my offspring as they rise,
To break my heart, to blind their eyes?
Sure if they spread the earth along,
Grow handsome, healthy, stout and strong,
They will as usual happy be
To lend that useful strength to thee:
Thus would we keep each other warm,
And guard us from all coming harm;
We’d steady stand when wild winds blow,
And laugh in spite of frost and snow,
And guard the roots of our loved laurel,
Grown sick and pale to see us quarrel.’
‘No more!’ the vex’d virago cries,
Wild fury flashing from her eyes,
‘I’ll hear no more—your bounds I’ll mark,
And keep you ever in the dark;
Here is a circle—look you here—
One step beyond it if you dare!
And if I hear you more complain
I’ll tear thy rising heart in twain;
I’ve made thy sons kill one another,
And soon they shall destroy their mother.
I’ll thus’—a flash of heavenly fire,
Full fraught with Jove’s most deadly ire,
Scatter’d the London pride around;
The black clouds roar’d with horrid sound;
The vivid lightning flashed again,
And laid the laurel on the plain.
But soon succeeds a heavenly calm—
Soft dews descend and show’rs of balm—
The sun shoots forth its kindest ray,
And shamrock strengthens every day,
And, raise’d by heaven’s assistance bland,
Bids fair to spread o’er all the land;
She guards the blasted laurel’s roots,
The nurtur’d laurel upward shoots,
And grateful wreaths its dark green boughs
To grace great shamrock’s aged brows.
Take heed, learn wisdom hence, weak man,
And keep a good friend while you can;
If to your friend you are unkind,
E’en love will be against you join’d;
Reflect that every act you do
To strengthen him doth strengthen you;
To serve you he is willing—able—
Two twists will make the strongest cable,
To bind a friend and keep him steady,
To have him e’er in reach and ready.