WELLINGTON by Charles Harpur
Great captain if you will! great Duke! great Slave!
Great minion of the crown! - but a great man
He was not! He? the iron instrument
Of mere authority! the atheist
Of a conventional and most earthy duty!
To whom the powers that be were simply not
Of God - but in His stead! Shall we belie
All righteous instinct and profane all truth,
By calling great a man without a soul?
One who, apart from the despotic wills
Of crowned oppressors, knew no right, no wrong.
No faith, no country, and no brotherhood?
If such a man were great, may God most High
Spare henceforth to our universal race
All greatness, seeing it may sometimes be
A rigid, kindness battlement of Power
Self throned and sanctioned only by the sword.
And if, as Englishmen are proud to boast,
He was their greatest countryman - alas!
For England's national sterility!
But they who thus belaud him, lie, as all
True patriots most feelingly perceive.
Besides, he was not England's son at all:
He was an Irishman, with whom the name
Of Ireland was a scoff! An Irishman,
Who for a hireling's meed and ministry,
Could tear away from his inhuman heart
The pleading image of his native land.
Return to the Charles Harpur page.
Return to the Charles Harpur: Selected Poetry and Prose page.