Why rings the knell of the funeral bell from a hundred village shrines?
Through broad Fingall, where hasten all those long and ordered lines?
With tear and sigh they’re passing by—the matron and the maid—
Has a hero died—is a nation’s pride in that cold coffin laid?
With frown and curse, behind the hearse, dark men go tramping on—
Has a tyrant died, that they cannot hide their wrath till the rites are done?
“Ululu! ululu! high on the wind,
There’s a home for the slave where no fetters can bind.
Woe, woe to his slayers!”—comes wildly along,
With the trampling of feet and the funeral song.
And now more clear
It swells on the ear;
Breathe low, and listen, ’tis solemn to hear.
“Ululu! ululu! wail for the dead.
Green grow the grass of Fingall on his head;
And spring-flowers blossom, ‘ere elsewhere appearing,
And shamrocks grow thick on the Martyr for Erin.
Ululu! ululu! soft fall the dew
On the feet and the head of the martyred and true.”
For awhile they tread
In silence dread—
Then muttering and moaning go the crowd,
Surging and swaying like mountain cloud,
And again the wail comes fearfully loud.
“Ululu! ululu! kind was his heart!
Walk slower, walk slower, too soon we shall part.
The faithful and pious, the Priest of the Lord,
His pilgrimage over, he has his reward.
By the bed of the sick lowly kneeling,
To God with the raised cross appealing—
He seems still to kneel, and he seems still to pray,
And the sins of the dying seem passing away.
“In the prisoner’s cell, and the cabin so dreary,
Our constant consoler, he never grew weary;
But he’s gone to his rest,
And he’s now with the bless’d,
Where tyrant and traitor no longer molest—
Ululu! ululu! wail for the dead!
Ululu! ululu! here is his bed!”
Short was the ritual, simple the prayer,
Deep was the silence, and every head bare;
The Priest alone standing, they knelt all around,
Myriads on myriads, like rocks on the ground.
Kneeling and motionless—”Dust unto dust.
He died as becometh the faithful and just—
Placing in God his reliance and trust.”
Kneeling and motionless—”ashes to ashes”—
Hollow the clay on the coffin-lid dashes;
Kneeling and motionless, wildly they pray,
But they pray in their souls, for no gesture have they;
Stern and standing—oh! look on them now.
Like trees to one tempest the multitude bow;
Like the swell of the ocean is rising their vow:
“We have bent and borne, though we saw him torn from his home by the tyrant’s crew—
And we bent and bore, when he came once more, though suffering had pierced him through:
And now he is laid beyond our aid, because to Ireland true—
A martyred man—the tyrant’s ban, the pious patriot slew.
“And shall we bear and bend for ever,
And shall no time our bondage sever
And shall we kneel, but battle never,
“For our own soil?
“And shall our tyrants safely reign
On thrones built up of slaves and slain,
And nought to us and ours remain
“But chains and toil?
“No! round this grave our oath we plight,
To watch, and labour, and unite,
Till banded be the nation’s might—
“Its spirit steeled,
“And then, collecting all our force,
We’ll cross oppression in its course,
And die—or all our rights enforce,
“On battle field.”
Like an ebbing sea that will come again,
Slowly retired that host of men;
Methinks they’ll keep some other day
The oath they swore on the martyr’s clay.