William Carleton. Died, January 30th, 1869.
Our land has lost a glory! Never more,
Tho’ years roll on, can Ireland hope to see
Another Carleton, cradled in the lore
Of our loved Country’s rich humanity.
The weird traditions, the old, plaintive strain,
The murmured legends of a vengeful past,
When a down‐trodden people stove in vain
To rend the fetters centuries made fast;
These, with the song and dance and tender tale,
Linked to our ancient music, have swept on
And died in far‐off echoes, like the wail
Of Israel’s broken Harps in Babylon.
No hand like his can wake them now, for he
Sprang from amidst the people: bathed his soul
In their strong passions, stormy as the sea,
And wild as skies before the thunder‐roll.
Yet, was he gentle; with divinest art
And tears that shook his nature over much,
He struck the key‐note of a people’s heart,
And all the nation answered to his touch,
Even as he swayed them, giving smiles for gloom,
And childlike tenderness for hate that kills
As rain clouds threat’ning with a weight of doom
Flash sudden, silver light upon the hills.
But, he had faults—men said. Oh, fling them back,
These cold deductions, marring praise with blame;
When earthquakes rend the rocks they leave a track
For central fires issuing forth in flame;
And by the passionate heat of gifted minds
The ruddest stones are crystallised to gems
Of glorious worth, such as a poet binds
Upon his brow, right royal diadems!
Like the great image of the Monarch’s dream,
Genius lifts up on high the head of gold,
And cleaves with iron limbs Time’s mighty stream,
Tho’ all too deep the feet may press earth’s mould.
Yet, by his gifts made dedicate to God
In noblest teachings of each gentle grace,
Through every land that Irishmen have trod
We claim for him the homage of our race.
With pen of light he drew great pictures when
Nothing but scorn was ours; and without fear
He flung them down before the face of men,
Saying, in words the whole world paused to hear:
So brave, so pure, so noble, grand, and true
Is this, our Irish People. Thus he gave
His fame to build our glory, and undo
The taunts of ages,—strong to lift and save
So, with a nation’s gratitude we vow
In every Irish heart a shrine shall be
To The Great Peasant, on whose deathless brow
Rests the star‐crown of immortality.
The kings of mind, unlike the kings of earth,
Can bear their honours with them to illume
The grave’s dark vault; so Carleton passes forth,
As through triumphal triumpal arches, to the tomb!