Saturday 16 March 2013

Old Erin's native shamrock! (1919)


Dear boys and girls,

Badges are as common as blackberries now-a-days. The war has been the means of adding greatly to their number. Who is prouder of his badge than the boy-scout. The badge is the outward sign to all whom it may concern that the wearer is -- well, something, that everybody is not. The boy-scout has his triple pledge, as exemplified by his badge. Serve God; honour the King; do a good turn every day. The badge I am thinking of is a triple one, too -- "the dear little shamrock of Ireland." Historians differ as to where St. Patrick was born, but it is generally held to have been in Dumbarton, that he first saw the light. From here at the age of sixteen he was captured in a raid, and carried to the north of Ireland, fired with a resolve to convert his heathen countrymen to the Christian faith. He used, as you know, the three-leaved shamrock, as a little object lesson, to give his hearers an idea of the nature of the true God. Now as to what exactly was the shamrock he made use of, "doctors differ." Some say it was the Dutch clover; others hint that it may have been the common wood-sorrel, but in any case it does not spoil the story. As loyal Irish boys and girls, we claim St. Patrick as a true Irishman. St. Patrick's cross appears in another triple combination -- the Union Jack. It was added to the flags of St. George and St. Andrew in the year 1801. Our flag has gained fresh and undying lustre to its name these, last four years, and its motto, "Quis separabit," has been borne through many a battlefield. So that when we think of March 17th; St. Patrick; and the shamrock; let our thoughts go back to an Ireland of a ruder time, when the "dear little plant' taught our forefathers -- a good lesson.

     Through Erin's isle,
     To sport a while,
As love and valour wandered.
     With wit, the sprite,
     Whose quiver bright,
A thousand arrows squandered;
Where'er they pass,
A triple grass
Shoots up with dew-drops streaming.
As softly green
     As emeralds seen,
Through, purest crystal gleaming!

O the shamrock, the green immortal shamrock!
Chosen leaf
Of bard and chief.
Old Erin's native shamrock!

Says Valour, "See
They spring for me,
Those leafy gems of morning!"
Says Love, "No, no,
For me they grow,
My fragrant path adorning!"
But Wit perceives,
The triple leaves,
And cries, "Oh! do not sever
A type that blends
Three god-like friends,
Lore, Valour, Wit for ever!"

To the shamrock, the green immortal shamrock!
Chosen leaf
of bard and chief,
Old Erin's native shamrock!

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 14 March 1919. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

No comments:

Post a Comment