A Hosting of the Gael

This is a marriage feast today,
A wished anniversary
Of union and reunion; Emmet, Meagher, all
True sons of Irish blood for honor dead,
With lifted head,
Hearken to this most jocund muster call;
Their ships are on the sea, —
From ancient Donegal
They come, from Kerry,
Ah, and from Tipperary,
Yea, rather, say
From Dublin to Cathay,
From Belgian battlefields, from Spain,
From snowed Saskatchewan, from Afric sand,
From Flodden Field, and Fontenoy,
From every field and every land,
Come man and boy
To keep with us this day a sacred trust,
For the earth is starred with work of Irish brain
And rich with Irish dust.
Behold, of heroes hosting here today,
In the farthest fore
Stand men whose eyes
Are blue and gray
Like Irish skies
And like the coats they wore.

No party festival of North or South
By us is kept,
And on our mouth
No vaunting of a single patriot name
To envied fame;
But in one man stands glorified the race.
Their brow we grace
With crown of laurel and with olive leaf,
And in proud grief
That has no tongue and keeps its tears unwept,
We greet the splendid host of Irish dead,
Leaving their age-old shroud,
Gaunt witnesses, a cloud,
By every wind increased,
Ghostly battalions led by greater ghosts
That round us troop, with measured, noiseless tread —
O God of Hosts,
We bid them welcome to our marriage feast.

Should any answer come
Whence stand they ranked and dumb?
A sudden thunder of a shout
Their throats give out
As if these long dead bones
Yet kept remembrance of old trumpet tones;
The dense, straight ranks are stirred
And rises one great word —
" Fredericksburg " is heard,
While comes this chorus forth:

" We are the men that followed, followed after
The sun-bright sword and the sea-bright flag,
With a faith in our hearts that rose like laughter
Most in the straits where the craven lag;
We are the men no danger daunted,
Following Freedom like a star,
Hot after glory, honor-haunted,
With our flag of green and our sworded Meagher.

" We are the men and these our brothers
Who held the heights and threw us back;
Over them, too, these thousand others,
A green flag waved through the war cloud black.
And Fredericksburg is an open story,
It was Irish blood both sides outpoured,
For they, too, followed honor and glory,
A green flag theirs, but not our sword.

" And we are come from the peace of slumber,
Nor North, nor South, by division sharp,
But Irish all, of that world-wide number
In all times mighty with sword and harp;
To lift once more, from the dust, our voices,
In one last cheer that may echo far —
Fredericksburg in the grave rejoices,
Now the Flag of Green weds the Sword of Meagher. "

So sang they, pale dead men,
Risen from their cold dream
To follow still the Gleam;
And in their hollowed eyes
Were what with mortals pass for tears
As after many years
They saw again the frayed and faded fold
That was their Cloth of the Field of Gold;
And a flash as of a star
When they saw the shining length
Of the blade that in his strength
Girt the dauntless Meagher.
Lo! flag and sword together pressed,
By all their eyes caressed.
Then like a breath of prayer
They melted on the air.

Learn we from these our dead
The meaning of this day,
And be not lightly led
From our fathers' way.
Not what our hands may hold —
Few threads of green and gold
And storied steel —
Not by these tokens may we feel
Sons of our laurelled sires,
Save that the same pure fires
Burn all our souls within,
And heart to heart, the quick heart to the dead, be kin.
Keep we the Faith sword-bright
By day, by night,
Our fathers' meed shall never suffer loss
But know increase.
The sword itself is likened to the cross
That is our peace.
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