In this piece of inspired verse, Thomas Davis calls to all those born on the island of Ireland to stand together as Irish people, in opposition to the yoke of English colonialism. He believed that the Irish identity did not depend on bloodlines but on feelings of the heart. His hope was that those of Saxon descent would become comfortable with an Irish identity if they would only give themselves fully to the idea.
Davis was born in Mallow, Co. Cork, in 1814. He was one of the chief organisers of the Young Ireland movement and was fundamentally opposed to Daniel O’Connell’s ill-fated moves to separate the Catholic Irish from the rest. Davis was a Republican. O’Connell was a vain-glorious fool.
Thomas Davis contributed much to the literature of rebel Ireland. He died in 1845 from scarlet fever, at the age of 30. He is buried at Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin.
Celts and Saxons
We hate the Saxon and the Dane,
We hate the Norman men-
We cursed their greed for blood and gain,
We curse them now again.
Yet start not, Irish-born man!
If you’re to Ireland true,
We heed not blood, nor creed, nor clan
We have no curse for you.
We have no curse for you or yours,
But Friendship’s ready grasp,
And Faith to stand by you and yours
Unto our latest gasp-
To stand by you against all foes,
Howe’er, or whence they come,
With traitor arts, or bribes, or blows,
From England, France, or Rome.
What matter that at different shrines
We pray unto one God?
What matter that at different times
Your fathers won this sod?
In fortune and in name we’re bound
By stronger links than steel;
And neither can be safe nor sound
But in the other’s weal.
As Nubian rocks, and Ethiop sand
Long drifting down the Nile,
Built up old Egypt’s fertile land
For many a hundred mile,
So Pagan clans to Ireland came,
And clans of Christendom,
Yet joined their wisdom and their fame
To build a nation from.
Here came the brown Phoenician,
The man of trade and toil-
Here came the proud Milesian,
A hungering for spoil;
And the Firbolg and the Cymry,
And the hard, enduring Dane,
And the iron Lords of Normandy,
With the Saxons in their train.
And oh! it were a gallant deed
To show before mankind,
How every race and every creed
Might be by love combined-
Might be combined, yet not forget
The fountains whence they rose,
As, filled by many a rivulet,
The stately Shannon flows.
Nor would we wreak our ancient feud
On Belgian or on Dane,
Nor visit in a hostile mood
The hearths of Gaul or Spain;
But long as on our country lies
The Anglo-Norman yoke,
Their tyranny we’ll stigmatize,
And God’s revenge invoke.
We do not hate, we never cursed,
Nor spoke a foeman’s word
Against a man in Ireland nursed,
Howe’er we thought he erred;
So start not, Irish-born man,
If you’re to Ireland true,
We heed not race, nor creed, nor clan,
We’ve hearts and hands for you.