Posted by: cosmicgarden | March 17, 2011

THE ENIGMA

By Speranza

 

Pale victims, where is your Fatherland?
Where oppression is law from age to age,
Where the death-plague, and hunger, and misery rage,
And tyrants a godless warfare wage
‘Gainst the holiest rights of an ancient land

Where the corn waves green on the fair hillside,

But each sheaf by the serfs and slavelings tied

Is taken to pamper a foreigner’s pride—

There is our suffering Fatherland.

Where broad rivers flow ‘neath a glorious sky,

And the valleys like gems of emerald lie;

Yet, the young men, and strong men, starve and die,

For want of bread in their own rich land.

And we pile up their corses, heap on heap,
While the pale mothers faint, and the children weep;
Yet, the living might envy the dead their sleep,
So bitter is life in that mourning land.

Oh! Heaven ne’er looked on a sadder scene;
Earth shuddered to hear that such woe had been;
Then we prayed, in despair, to a foreign queen,
For leave to live on our own fair land.

We have wept till our faces are pale and wan;
We have knelt to a throne till our strength is gone;
We prayed to our masters, but, one by one,
They laughed to scorn our suffering land;

And sent forth their minions, with cannon and steel,
Swearing with fierce, unholy zeal,
To trample us down with an iron heel,
If we dared but to murmur our just demand.—
Know ye not now our Fatherland?

What! are there no men in your Fatherland,
To confront the tyrant’s stormy glare,
With a scorn as deep as the wrongs ye bear,
With defiance as fierce as the oaths they sware,
With vengeance as wild as the cries of despair,
That rise from your suffering Fatherland?

Are there no swords in your Fatherland,
To smite down the proud, insulting foe,
With the strength of dispair give blow for blow
Till the blood of the baffled murderers flow
On the trampled soil of your outraged land?

Are your right arms weak in that land of slaves,
That ye stand by your murdered brothers’ graves,
Yet tremble like coward and crouching knaves,
To strike for freedom and Fatherland?

Oh! had ye faith in your Fatherland,
In God, your Cause, and your own right hand,
Ye would go forth as saints to the holy fight,
Go in the strength of eternal right,
Go in the conquering Godhead’s might—
And save or avenge your Fatherland!

—–

 

This reminds me of us now, praying to the almighty corporations, owned by who knows?

For permission to live in our own rich land.

This was written by Oscar Wilde’s mother who wrote of Ireland and anarchy under the pen name Speranza.

 

Poverty was still rife throughout Ireland due to the system of land-leasing and this led many influential figures calling for reform. This reform took the shape of the ‘poor law’. Each of the administrative areas in the country had a ‘workhouse’ to provide relief for the poor. These workhouses were often seen as the ‘last resort of the desperate’, due to the conditions within. They provided only the basic necessities and were designed to be unattractive so that only the most destitute souls would turn to them. The workhouses were pushed to breaking point with the onset of the Great Famine.
Much of the hardship caused by the Famine was due to the nature of land holding in Ireland at this time. Land was owned by and rented from Protestant Clergy and plantation settlers, rent was paid in the form of corn which was then sold abroad. This left the Irish farmers with small amounts of land with which to feed their families- the answer to this was the potato. The potato was capable of feeding a family for a year on just one acre of land. The potato crop had allowed Ireland’s population to flourish to 8 million in 1841. The problem came when the potato crop repeatedly failed between 1844 and 1849. One million people dies over these five years and a further one million emigrated. It is important to note that Ireland could have fed itself despite the failure of the potato, had the landlords had the compassion to let their tenants keep the corn which they paid as rents.

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