Another offering today from the Victorian popular religious press as we continue the series of posts in honour of Saint Brigid. The following poem originated in 'The Irish Catholic', but was syndicated in the Australian press, in this case the Advocate, a weekly Catholic newspaper published in Melbourne. Our patroness is here depicted in her role as an intercessor for Ireland and its people. Verses two and three ask that she cast her mantle over the people as a protecting shield from unspecified dangers which threaten, just as she sheltered their ancestors from 'cruel foes' in days of yore. Verse four asks that the youth of Ireland be preserved from falling away from the way 'of loyal faith and stern duty', a peculiarly Victorian way of appealing to the young. In verse five Saint Brigid's intercession is also sought for the dying, with the hope that in the struggle to leave this life she will banish their fears. But it is the final two verses which really reflect the era of the nineteenth-century national revival in which this tribute was written. The penultimate verse, with its naive hope that 'soon' the praises of God and Saint Brigid would be sung in our own dear language, reminds us that the revival of the Irish language was a part of the national movement. In what is presumably an allusion to the shamrock, the poem ends with a soaring statement of the Irish nationalist vision in a request that Ireland will never sever the 'triple leaf' of faith, in prayer and love and duty, to God and country unto death:
To Dear St. Brigid, Ireland's Patroness.
Soft as an angel's whisper
Comes the thought of thee, sweet Saint,
Erin's bride, and gentle guardian,
Free from evil, and its taint.
Come, and with thy mantle shelter
The children of our Isle,
Dangers threaten, O protect them
From the demon's treacherous smile.
'Neath that shield no dart shall pierce them.
Oft of yore it screened from foes
Those who claimed its truthful succour,
In the midst of cruel foes.
Save the youth; the tempter's watching
To beguile them from the way
Of loyal faith and stern duty,
Oh! dear saint, we humbly pray.
Come to those who claim thy succour,
The evening of whose life draws near.
Stay, uphold them in the struggle;
Near thy heart they need not fear.
Soon our "Gaelic tongue" will echo
Thoughts of thee and all thy ways,
In our own dear Irish language
God and thee we all shall praise.
Ask that Ireland ne'er may sever
The 'Triple leaf' of Faith,
Faith in prayer, in love, in duty,
To God and country unto death.
To Dear St. Brigid, Ireland’s Patroness, Advocate, ( March 16, 1901), p. 2.
Content Copyright © Trias Thaumaturga 2012-2023. All rights reserved.