The following is a poem penned by Irish nationalist Thomas Davis, diligently brought back to life through the devoted team at An Cartlann.


Though savage force and subtle schemes,

And alien rule, through ages lasting,

Have swept your land like lava streams,

Its wealth and name and nature blasting;

Rot not, therefore, in dull despair,

Nor moan at destiny in far lands!

Face not your foe with bosom bare,

Nor hide your chains in pleasure’s garlands.

The wise man arms to combat wrong,

The brave man clears a den of lions,

The true man spurns the Helot’s song;

The freeman’s friend is Self-Reliance!


Though France that gave your exiles bread,

Your priests a home, your hopes a station,

Or that young land where first was spread

The starry flag of Liberation,—

Should heed your wrongs some future day,

And send you voice or sword to plead ’em,

With helpful love their help repay,

But trust not even to them for Freedom.

A Nation freed by foreign aid

Is but a corpse by wanton science

Convulsed like life, then flung to fade—

The life itself is Self-Reliance!


Oh! see your quailing tyrant run

To courteous lies, and Roman agents,

His terror, lest Dungannon’s sun

Should rise again with riper radiance.

Oh! hark the Freeman’s welcome cheer,

And hark your brother sufferers sobbing

Oh! mark the universe grow clear,

Oh! mark your spirit’s royal throbbing—

‘Tis Freedom’s God that sends such signs,

As pledges of his blest alliance;

He gives bright hopes to brave designs,

And lends his bolts to Self-Reliance!


Then, flung alone, or hand in hand,

In mirthful hour, or spirit solemn;

In lowly toil, or high command,

In social hall, or charging column:

In tempting wealth, and trying woe,

In struggling with a mob’s dictation;

In bearing back a foreign foe,

In training up a troubled nation:

Still hold to Truth, abound in Love,

Refusing every base compliance—

Your Praise within, your Prize above,

And live and die in Self-Reliance!

Posted by The Burkean


  1. Mary Stasia Concannon 25/10/2021 at 12:18 am

    He was ahead of his time, and we need him now – desperately.


  2. ‘The true man spurns the Helots song’. Not in the Ireland of today they don’t. The serf mentality dominates .


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