3766. Robert Southey to William Shield, [18 December 1821]

3766. Robert Southey to William Shield, [18 December 1821] ⁠* 

Ode [1] 

1

Green Island of the West, thy shores
Rung far & wide of late,
When grateful Dublin first beheld her King; [2] 
First of thy Sovereigns he
Who visited thy shores in peace & joy.
And not in vain
Was that benignant presence; for the soul
Of Ireland in that hour
Partook the feeling of his liberal heart;
And with benevolence & love
And impulses of generous loyalty
Expanding, overflow’d.

2

In loud huzzas prolongd
Surge after surge, the tide
Of popular welcome rose.
From every tower the merry bells rung round
Peal hurrying upon peal,
Till with the still-reverberating din,
The walls & solid pavement seemd to shake
And every bosom with the tremulous air
Inhaled a dizzy joy.

3

Were then the feelings of that generous time
Ephemeral as the joy?
Past they away like summer clouds
Which leave no trace behind?
Not so: rich harvest Ireland yet shall reap
From the good seed then sown.
Nor long shall frantic Anarchy impede
The perfect union that from thence shall date.
For Mercy will go forth
To stablish Order with an armd right hand,
And strong Authority
With its all-present power controul the bad,
And with its all sufficient shield
Protect the innocent.

Ode

——

1

How long, O Ireland, from thy guilty ground
Shall innocent blood
Arraign the inefficient arm of Power!
How long shall Murder there
Leading his banded ruffians thro the land
Walk unrepressd?
How long shall Night
Bring to thy harmless dwellers in the stead
Of due repose
Midnight alarms, fear, insecurity
Horrible dreams, & worse realities?
How long shall Darkness cover, & the eye
Of Morning open upon deeds of death?

2

In vain art thou by liberal Natures dower
Exuberantly blest;
The seasons in their course
Shed oer thy hills & vales
The bounties of their genial clime, in vain;
Heaven hath in vain bestowed
Well-temperd liberty
Its last and largest boon to social man,
If the brute multitude from age to age,
Go irreclaimed the
Wild as their savage ancestors,
Go irreclaimed the while,
Inheriting in undisturbed descent
Their errors & their crimes.

3

Green Island of the West!
Thy Sister Kingdom feard not this
When thy exulting shores
Rung far & wide of late
And grateful Dublin first beheld her King,
First of thy sovereigns he
Who visited thy shores in peace & joy.

4

But not in vain
Was that benignant presence; for the soul
Of Ireland in that hour
Partook the feeling of his liberal heart,
And with benevolence & love
And impulses of generous loyalty
Expanding, overflowd.

5

Oh what a joy was there!
In loud huzzahs prolongd,
Surge after surge, the tide
Of popular welcome rose;
And in the intervals alone
Of that tumultuous sound of glad acclaim,
Could the deep cannons voice
Of duteous gratulation, tho it spake
In thunder, reach the ear.
From all the <every> towers the merry bells rung round
Peal hurrying upon peal;
Till with the still reverberating din
The walls & solid pavement seemd to shake,
And every bosom with the tremulous air
Inhaled a dizzy joy

6

Age that came forth to gaze
That memorable day
Felt in its quickend veins a pulse like youth;
And lisping babes were taught
And grandsires bade the children treasure up
A sight; the tale of which
In times to come should make
Their childrens children gather round
Intent, all ears to hear.

7

Were then the feelings of that generous time
Ephemeral as the joy?
Past they away like summer clouds,
Like dreams of infancy,
Like glories of an evening sky,
Which leave no trace behind?
<Not so.> Rich harvest Ireland yet shall reap
From the good seed then sown;
From that auspicious day
Shall perfect union date,
And prosperous ages thence
Their better course begin.

8

Green Island of the West,
Not long shall frantic violence delay
That happier order all too long delayd!
Oh not for ever thus shalt thou remain,
To thy reproach & ours,
In thine own baleful darkness wrapt
While all around is light!
Not always shalt thou be
A theatre for fiends to act
Unutterable deeds,
As if the Eye divine,
That which beholdeth all, from thee alone
In wrath had turnd away.
For Mercy shall go forth
To stablish Order with an armd right hand
And strong Authority
With its all-present strength controul the bad,
And with its all-sufficient shield
Protect the innocent.

9

O thou fair Island, with thy Sister Isle
Indissolubly linkd for weal or woe,
Partaker of her present power,
Her everlasting fame, . .
Dear pledges hast thou renderd and received
Of that eternal union! Bedel’s grave [3] 
Is in thy keeping; & in thee
Doth Taylor’s holy dust [4] 
Await the Archangels call.
O Land profuse of genius & of worth,
Largely hast thou received, & largely given!
Green Island of the West,
We owe to thee unspotted Ormonds [5]  faith,
Boyles [6]  venerable name,
Berkeley [7]  the wise, the good,
And that great Orator [8]  who first
Unmaxskd the harlot Sorceress Anarchy
What time, in Freedom’s form assum’d
She to the nations round
Her cup of witchcrafts gave;
And him who in the field
Oerthrew her Giant Offspring [9]  in his strength
And brake his iron rod.
Proud of such debt,
Rich to be thus indebted, these
Fair Island, Sister Queen
Of Ocean, Ireland, these to thee we owe.

Notes

* Address: To/ Wm Shield Esqre/ &c &c &c/ Berners Street/ Oxford Street
Endorsement: In Lr of 18 Dec1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished.
Note on MS: The letter contains two versions of Southey’s New Year’s ode and was sent via Bedford; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 December 1821, Letter 3765. BACK

[1] MS has ‘for 1 Jany 1822’ inserted in another hand after ‘Ode’. The poem that follows is Southey’s New Year’s Ode for 1822, as Poet Laureate: ‘Ireland’, published in Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, 2 vols (London, 1829), I, pp. [295]–302. BACK

[2] George IV paid a state visit to Ireland on 12 August–3 September 1821. He formally entered the city on 17 August. BACK

[3] William Bedell (1571–1642; DNB), English clergyman, Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore 1629–1642. He is buried at Kilmore Cathedral. BACK

[4] Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667; DNB), English clergyman and writer, Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor and Down and of Dromore 1661–1667. BACK

[5] James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde (1610–1688; DNB), Royalist commander in Ireland during the civil war and Lord Lieutenant 1643–1646, 1648–1649, 1662–1668, 1677–1685. BACK

[6] Robert Boyle (1627–1691; DNB), Anglo-Irish chemist. BACK

[7] George Berkeley (1685–1753; DNB), Irish philosopher and Church of Ireland Bishop of Cloyne 1734–1753. BACK

[8] Edmund Burke (1729–1797; DNB), Irish politician and opponent of the French Revolution. BACK

[9] Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; Emperor of the French, 1804–1814, 1815). BACK

People mentioned

George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 3 times)
Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852) (mentioned 1 time)

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