Tuesday 19 July 2016

The Sons of Ulster

No dream of glory lured them forth
    From the fair land they loved so well;
No martial ardour fired their hearts
    And held them by its subtle spell.
Theirs were the arts of peace, content
To labour for earth's betterment.

But when the hour of danger struck
    They heard their, country's call, and laid
Aside the tasks of every day –
    The scholar's gown, the gear of trade.
Heedless of self, they took their stand
For God, for right, for Motherland.

True sons of an Imperial race,
    Proud of their glorious heritage,
Strong with the strength that freedom gives
    To those who honour's conflicts wage,
They feared no foe save treacherous ease
When duty beckoned o'er the seas.

Dauntless they faced the risks of war,
    And quelled not when the order came
To charge across the fatal field
    Through the grim battle's furnace flame.
Heroes they fought and heroes fell,
Unconquered and unconquerable!

Oh, Ulster homes where sorrow dwells,
    A guest that will not be denied,
Admit another inmate, too,
    For on the threshold standeth pride.
Mourn, but be proud, and at grief's shrine
Let laurels with your cypress twine.

Sentinel hills by Belfast town,
    Watch for the dawn of victory's day,
And for the ships that homeward bring
    Conquerors returning from the fray!
Ulster shall greet with glad acclaim
Sons who have won her deathless fame.

And what of those who come no more?
    Under the kindly soil of France
Sleep their bodies by battle worn,
    But they have made the great advance,
Crossing death's frontier, out of strife
Into the realm of endless life.


Poem: The Witness, 21st July 1916.
Image:  Group of the Royal Irish Rifles, 36th Ulster Division, before parading for the trenches. Near Bertincourt, 20 November 1917. © IWM (Q 3175).

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