THE BURIAL OF PARNELL
Originally published in The Echo on 12th October, 1891, ‘The Burial of Parnell’ was also issued as a broadside in Dublin, and was then reprinted in The Buchanan Ballads Old and New (London: John Haddon and Company, 1892) and in Volume 2 of the Complete Poetical Works (London: Chatto & Windus, 1901).
THE BURIAL OF PARNELL.
(SPOKEN IN THE PERSON OF ONE OF HIS FOLLOWERS).
“We come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.”'
WE come to bury Cæsar, not
To praise him!—yet our eyes
Grow dim above the holy spot
Where our dead Monarch lies;
The hungry millions, weeping too,
Mourn their lost Lord and Friend,
While here we stand, the faithful few
Who loved him till the end!
Cæsar lies dead!—yea, Cæsar! Tho’
His brows were never crown’d,
He reigned, until the assassin’s blow
First struck him to the ground;
He walk’d imperial in command,
While angry factions raved—
Sad Cæsar of the woeful Land
Which he redeemed and saved!
Cæsar is dead!—no golden throne
Or purple robes sought he,
But led, in darkness and alone,
Legions that would be free;
His armies were the famish’d throng
That rose and march’d by night,
A living Host that swept along
To some great Land of Light!
The dim Light grows, the Dawn is nigh!
But he who led us on,
Who held the fiery Cross on high
Thro’ the long night, is gone!
Full at his heart the cowards smote
With many a trait’rous thrust,
While Falsehood fasten’d on his throat
And dragg’d him to the dust! . . .
Ev’n as a Lion fixing eyes
On something far away,
He stood alone ’neath sunless skies
On his great triumph-day;
Then, while he march’d the battle-place,
His jackals gather’d in . . .
And now? The things which fear’d his face
Fight for the Lion’s skin!
What one of these shall put it on?
Thou, weakest of the weak,
Who, when thy Lord lay woe-begone,
First kiss’d, then smote, his cheek?
Or thou, who mock’d him in his fall
With foul and impious jest?
Or thou, the basest of them all,
Who gnaw’d the bleeding breast?
Jackals and cowards, mourn elsewhere!
Not near the mighty Dead!
Your breath pollutes the holy air
Around a Martyr’s bed.
Go! fatten with the Scribes and Priests
Who led your foul array,
Or crouch, with all the timorous beasts
Who follow’d him for prey!
Who slew this Man? The cruel Foe
That stab’d our Erin first;
Then Brutus, loth to strike the blow;
Then Casca, the accurst;
Then freedmen by his hands unbound,
And slaves his hands had fed,
Joining the throng that ring’d him round,
Stoned him till he was dead!
Lo, where the English Brutus stands,
With white and reverend hair,
Bloodstains upon the wrinkled hands
He calmly folds in prayer;
Facing all ways beneath the sky,
Strong still, tho’ worn and wan,
This Brutus is (so all men cry)
“An honourable man”!
Casca and Cassius haggard-eyed,
Their gaze on Brutus’ face,
Say, “Surely Cæsar had not died
If thou had given him grace!”
O thrice-bound Freeman, in whose name
They proved this dead Man base,
Still keep from unbelief and shame
Thy Marriage Market-place!
There, where the White Slave, Woman, stands,
Wearing her gyves of gold,
Soothe with the ointment of the creeds
The body ere ’tis sold;
Preach the high Law of Purity,
Find out all stains and slurs,
And keep the great Slave-market free
To righteous purchasers!
But, Brutus, thou who conjurest
In Freedom’s sacred name,
Back from this grave, mar not this rest,
Breathe not this Martyr’s name!
Priests on thy left hand and thy right
Stand up and prate of God,
While he thou didst betray and smite
Lies dead beneath the sod!
Still, where thou standest, bending o’er
Thy head, and blessing thee,
Broods the pale Babylonian Whore
They name “Morality”:
Making a noble spirit blind
With her polluting breath,
She found the means Hate could not find,
And plann’d the deed of Death!
Who slew this man? Thou, Christian Land,
Who sendest o’er the foam
Mammon and Murther hand in hand
To shame the Christ at home!
The Christ? His painted Image, nurst
By knaves who cast on men
The curse of Priestcraft—last and worst,
The Priestcraft of the Pen!
Not till our King lay bleeding there,
Crept forth with cruel eyne
The venom’d things which make their lair
Beneath the Seven-Hill’d Shrine:
Then, in the name of him they priced,
Degraded, and betrayed,
They poisoned, these false priests of Christ,
The wounds a Judas made!
We come to bury, not to praise
Our Cæsar—yet his knell
Joins with the cry of wrath we raise
’Gainst those thro’ whom he fell!
While Freemen pass from hand to hand
The Fiery Cross he waved,
His fame shall lighten thro’ the Land
Which he redeemed and saved!
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