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A Voice of Encouragement—A New Year's Lay (Author: James Clarence Mangan)


  1. Youths! Compatriots! Friends! Men for the time that is nearing!
    Spirits appointed by Heaven to front the storm and the trouble!
    You, who in seasons of peril, unfaltering still and unfearing,
    Calmly have held on your course, the course of the Just and the Noble!
    You, young men, would a man unworthy to rank in your number,
    Yet with a heart that bleeds for his country's wrongs and affliction,
    Fain raise a voice to, in song, albeit his music and diction
    Rather be fitted, alas! to lull to, than startle from, slumber.
  2. Friends! the gloom in our land, in our once bright land, grows deeper.
    Suffering, even to death, in its horriblest forms, aboundeth;
    Thro' our black harvestless fields, the peasants' faint wail resoundeth.
    Hark to it, even now! . . . The nightmare oppressèd sleeper
    Gasping and struggling for life, beneath his hideous bestrider,
    Sëeth not, drëeth not, sight or terror more fearful or ghastly
    Than that poor paralysed slave! Want, Houselessness, Famine, and lastly
    Death in a thousand-corpsed grave, that momently waxeth wider.
  3. Worse! The great heart of the country is thrilled and throbbeth but faintly!


    Apathy palsieth here—and there, a panic misgiving:
    Even the Trustful and Firm, even the Sage and the Saintly,
    Seem to believe that the Dead but foreshow the doom of the Living.
    Men of the faithfullest souls all but broken-hearted
    O'er the dishonoured tombs of the glorious dreams that have perished—
    Dreams that almost outshone Realities while they were cherished—
    All, they exclaim, is gone! The Vision and Hope have departed!
  4. Worst and saddest! As under Milton's lowermost Tophet
    Yawned another yet lower1, so for the mourning Million
    Still is there deeper woe! Patriot, Orator, Prophet,
    Some who a few years agone stood proudly in the Pavilion
    Of their land's rights and liberties, gazing abroad thro' its casement
    On the fair Future they fondly deemed at hand for their nation,
    Now not alone succumb to the change and the Degradation,
    But have ceased even to feel them! God! this indeed is abasement!
  5. Is the last hope then gone? Must we lie down despairing?
    No! there is always hope for all who will dare and suffer;
    Hope for all who surmount the Hill of Exertion, uncaring
    Whether their path be brighter or darker, smoother or rougher;
    No! there is always hope for those who, relying with earnest
    Souls on God and themselves, take for their motto, ‘Labour’.


    Such see the rainbow's glory where Heaven looms darkest and sternest;
    Such in the storm-wind hear but the music of pipe and tabor.
  6. Follow your destiny up! Work! Write! Preach to arouse and
    Warn, and watch, and encourage! Dangers, no doubt, surround you—
    But for Ten threatening you now, you will soon be appalled by a Thousand
    If you forsake the course to which Virtue and Honour have bound you!
    Oh, persevere! persevere! Falter not!—faint not!—shrink not!
    Hate and Hostility serve but as spurs to the will of the Zealous—
    Tho' your foes flourish awhile, and you seem to decline, be not jealous,
    ‘Help from the Son of Man cometh in such an hour as you think not!’
  7. Slavery debases the soul; yea! reverses its primal nature;
    Long were our fathers bowed to the earth with fetters of iron—
    And, alas! we inherit the failings and ills that environ
    Slaves like a dungeon wall and dwarf their original stature.
    Look on your countrymen's failings with less of anger than pity;
    Even with the faults of the evil deal in a manner half tender;
    And like an army encamped before a beleaguered city,
    Earlier or later you must compel your foes to surrender!

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  9. Lo, a new year! A year into whose bosom Time gathers
    All the past lessons of ages—a mournful but truth-teaching muster;
    All the rich thoughts and deeds, and the marvellous lore of our fathers;
    All the sunlike experience that makes men wiser and juster.
    Hail it with steadfast resolve—thankfully, if it befriend you;
    Guardedly, lest it betray—without either Despair or Elation,
    Panoplied inly against the sharpest ills it may send you,
    But with a high hope still for yourselves and the Rise of your Nation.
  10. Omen full, archèd with gloom and laden with many a presage,
    Many a portent of woe, looms the Impending Era
    Not as of old, by comet—sword2, Gorgon, or ghastly Chimera,
    Scarcely by lightning and thunder, Heaven to-day sends its message.
    Into the secret heart—down thro' the caves of the spirit,
    Pierces the silent shaft—sinks the invisible token—
    Cloaked in the Hall, the Envoy stands, his mission unspoken,
    While the pale, banquetless guests await in trembling to hear it.