This is yet another stirring piece of verse from the poet laureate of Irish Republicanism, Thomas Davis. In this poem, Davis laments the falling of Irish martyrs in battle, and looks hopefully to the day when the servants of Irish freedom will eventually triumph over their colonial oppressors. Remember that such writings could have seen Davis exiled, imprisoned or killed.
The Green Above The Red
Full often when our fathers saw the Red above the Green,
They rose in rude but fierce array, with sabre, pike and scian,
And over many a noble town, and many a field of dead,
They proudly set the Irish Green above the English Red.
But in the end throughout the land, the shameful sight was seen-
The English Red in triumph high above the Irish Green;
But well they died in breach and field, who, as their spirits fled,
Still saw the Green maintain its place above the English Red.
And they who saw, in after times, the Red above the Green
Were withered as the grass that dies beneath a forest screen;
Yet often by this healthy hope their sinking hearts were fed,
That, in some day to come, the Green should flutter o’er the Red.
Sure ’twas for this Lord Edward died, and Wolfe Tone sunk serene-
Because they could not bear to leave the Red above the Green;
And ’twas for this that Owen fought, and Sarsfield nobly bled-
Because their eyes were hot to see the Green above the Red.
So when the strife began again, our darling Irish Green
Was down upon the earth, while high the English Red was seen;
Yet still we held our fearless course, for something in us said,
‘Before the strife is o’er you’ll see the Green above the Red.’
And ’tis for this we think and toil, and knowledge strive to glean,
That we may pull the English Red below the Irish Green,
And leave our sons sweet Liberty, and smiling plenty spread
Above the land once dark with blood-the Green above the Red!
The jealous English tyrant now has banned the Irish Green,
And forced us to conceal it like a something foul and mean;
But yet, by Heavens! he’ll sooner raise his victims from the dead
Than force our hearts to leave the Green, and cotton to the Red!
We’ll trust ourselves, for God is good, and blesses those who lean
On their brave hearts, and not upon an earthly king or queen;
And, freely as we lift our hands, we vow our blood to shed
Once and for evermore to raise the Green above the Red.