Thou are, in sooth, a lovely land,
As fair as ever fancy painted,
In virgin freshness calm and bland,
By shadows dark untainted.
But, ah! upon that bright expanse,
The glory of a clime Elysian,
'Tis but a cold and soulless glance
That meets the gazer's vision.
No poet fancies o'er thy skies
Spread tints that hallow live for ever;
No old tradition's magic lies
On mountain, vale and river;
There is no heart within thy breast,
No classic charm of memories hoary,
No footprint hath old Time imprest14
On thee of song or story.
O barren land! O blank, bright sky!
Methinks it were a noble duty
To kindle in that vacant eye
The light of spirit-beauty –
To fill with airy shapes divine
Thy lonely plains and mountains,
The orange grove, the bower of vine,
The silvery lakes and fountains.
To wake thy voiceless, silent air
To soft, melodious numbers;
To raise thy lifeless form, so fair,
From those deep, spell-bound slumbers.
Oh, whose shall be the potent hand
To give that touch informing,
And make thee rise, O southern land,
To life and poesy warming?
Eva Mary O'Doherty (1862)