The Paschal Fire of Patrick

On Tara’s hill the daylight dies,
On Tara’s plain ‘tis dead.
“Til Baal’s enkindled fires shall rise
No fire must flame instead”.
‘Tis thus the king commanding speaks,
Commands and speaks in vain;
For lo! A fire defiant breaks
From out the woods of Slane.

For there in prayer is Patrick bent,
With Christ his soul is knit;
And there before his simple tent
The Paschal Fire is lit.
“What means this flame that through the night
Illumines all the vale?
What rebel hand a fire dare light
Before the fires of Baal?”

“O king! When Baal’s dark reign is o’er,
When thou thyself art gone,
This fire will light the Irish shore
And lead its people on;
Will lead them on full many a night
Through which they’re doomed to go,
Like that which led the Israelite
From bondage and from woe.
This fire, this sacred fire of God,
Young hearts shall bear afar
To lands no human foot has trod
Beneath the western star;
To lands where Faith’s bright flag unfurled
By those who here have knelt,
Shall give unto a newer world
The sceptre of the Celt”.

by Denis Florence Mc Carthy (1817 – 1882)

Memorial Ceremony, St. Patrick’s Day, Links

The Poetry of Things