Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
My Native Land
John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)
 
IT chanced to me upon a time to sail
  Across the Southern ocean to and fro;
And, landing at fair isles, by stream and vale
  Of sensuous blessing did we ofttimes go.
And months of dreamy joys, like joys in sleep,        5
  Or like a clear, calm stream o’er mossy stone,
Unnoted passed our hearts with voiceless sweep,
  And left us yearning still for lands unknown.
 
And when we found one,—for ’t is soon to find
  In thousand-isled Cathay another isle,—        10
For one short noon its treasures filled the mind,
  And then again we yearned, and ceased to smile.
And so it was from isle to isle we passed,
  Like wanton bees or boys on flowers or lips;
And when that all was tasted, then at last        15
  We thirsted still for draughts instead of sips.
 
I learned from this there is no Southern land
  Can fill with love the hearts of Northern men.
Sick minds need change; but, when in health they stand
  ’Neath foreign skies, their love flies home agen.        20
And thus with me it was: the yearning turned
  From laden airs of cinnamon away,
And stretched far westward, while the full heart burned
  With love for Ireland, looking on Cathay!
 
My first dear love, all dearer for thy grief!        25
  My land, that has no peer in all the sea
For verdure, vale, or river, flower or leaf,—
  If first to no man else, thou ’rt first to me.
New loves may come with duties, but the first
  Is deepest yet,—the mother’s breath and smiles;        30
Like that kind face and breast where I was nursed
  Is my poor land, the Niobe of isles.
 
 
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