Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The History and Poetry Corner Vol I No. I

'Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history,is man’s original virtue.
It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.'

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

The Soul of Man Under Socialism

Samuel Ferguson was born in High Street Belfast, in 1810, of Scottish parents who moved to Ireland during the 17th century. He studied at the Belfast Academy, before going to Trinity College Dublin to study law, where he graduated with a BA in 1826, and an MA in 1832, and was called to the bar in 1838.

Ferguson was a friend of Thomas Davis, and many other leaders of the ‘Young Ireland’ movement. His poem on the death of Davis, ‘Lament for Thomas Davis’ was described by Gavan Duffy, who with Davis and John Dillon had founded the Nation newspaper, as ‘the most Celtic in structure and spirit of all the elegies laid on the tomb of Davis.’

Although Ferguson was not a member of the Young Ireland party, he supported repeal of the Union, and was prominent in the Protestant Repeal Association. In the persecutions and prosecutions, that took place before and after the failed rising of ’48, he successfully defended Richard Dalton Williams, who was charged with treason-felony.

Ferguson published many volumes of verse, but he only contributed one poem to the Nation, 'Sonnet to the Gentlemen of ‘The Nation’ newspaper, censured for their defect of sectarian zeal.'
He died at Howth, Co. Dublin, in August 1886, aged 76.
Sir Samuel Ferguson, is buried at Donegore, Co. Antrim.
Brave youths, although I prize the Union Act
And warm resent some marchings for Repeal
Which I deemed menaces, no less I feel
How loving - brave, with manly minds erect,
Ye toil to give the people self - respect;
And therefore, now, when in fanatic zeal,
Bigots assail you, that the stake and wheel
Ye love not, I would cheer you, so attacked.
Discussion follows Freedom; difference
Of thought is Thought’s prerogative; let none,
Even hating Faction, wish Opinions hence;
But let him who would see all hates undone,
And Ireland’s days of happier note begun,
With you teach National self - confidence.
I walked through Ballinderry in the spring-time,
When the bud was on the tree;
And I said, in every fresh-ploughed field beholding
The sowers striding free,
Scattering broadside forth the corn in golden plenty
On the quick seed-clasping soil,
“Even such this day, among the fresh-stirred hearts of Erin.
Thomas Davis, is thy toil.”
I Sat by Ballyshannon in the summer,
And saw the salmon leap;
And I said, as I beheld the gallant creatures
Spring glittering from the deep,
Through the spray, and through the prone heaps striving onward
To the calm, clear streams above,
“So seekest thou thy native founts of freedom, Thomas Davis
In thy brightness of strength and love.”
I stood in Derrybawn in the autumn,
And I heard the eagle call,
With a clangorous cry of wrath and lamentation
That filled the wide mountain hall,
O’er the bare, deserted place of his plundered eyrie;
And I said, as he screamed and soared,
“So callest thou, thou wrathful, soaring Thomas Davis,
For a nation’s rights restored!”
And, alas! to think but now, and thou art lying,
Dear Davis, dead at thy mother’s knee;
And I, no mother near, on my own sick-bed,
That face on earth shall never see;
I may lie and try to feel that I am dreaming,
I may lie and try to say, “Thy will be done,”
But a hundred such as I will never comfort Erin
For the loss of the noble son!
Young husbandman of Erin’s fruitful seed-time,
In the fresh track of danger’s plough!
Who will walk the heavy, toilsome, perilous furrow
Girt with freedom’s seed-sheets, now?
Who will banish with the wholesome crop of knowledge
The daunting weed and the bitter thorn,
Now that thou thyself art but a seed for hopeful planting
Against the Resurrection morn?
Young salmon of the flood-tide of freedom
That swells round Erin’s shore!
Thou wilt leap against their loud oppressive torrent
Of bigotry and hate no more;
Drawn downward by their prone material instinct,
Let them thunder on their rocks and foam—
Thou hast leapt, aspiring soul, to founts beyond their raging,
Where troubled waters never come!
But I grieve not, Eagle of the empty eyrie,
That thy wrathful cry is still;
And that the songs alone of peaceful mourners
Are heard to-day on Earth’s hill;
Better far, if brothers’ war be destined for us
(God avert that horrid day I pray),
That ere our hands be stained with slaughter fratricidal,
Thy warm heart should be cold in clay.
But my trust is strong in God, Who made us brothers,
That He will not suffer their right hands,
Which thou hast joined in holier rites than wedlock
To draw opposing brands.
Oh, many a tuneful tongue that thou madest vocal
Would lie cold and silent then;
And songless longwidowed Erin once more, should often-
Mourn the loss of her brave young men.
Oh, brave young men, my love, my pride, my promise,
’Tis on you my hopes are set,
In manliness, in kindliness, in justice,
To make Erin a nation yet;
Self-respecting, self-relying, self-advancing—
In union or in severance, free and strong—
And if God grant this, then, under God, to Thomas Davis
Let the greater praise belong.

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