A Poem for Memorial Day


Air: “Oh! a rare old plant is the ivy green.”

Och! a rare ould flag was the flag we bore,
‘Twas a bully ould flag, an’ nice;
It had sthripes in plenty, an’ shtars galore—
‘Twas the broth of a purty device.
Faix, we carried it South, an’ we carried it far,
An’ around it our bivouacs made;
An’ we swore by the shamrock that never a shtar
From its azure field should fade.
Ay, this was the oath, I tell you thrue,
That was sworn in the sowls of our Boys in Blue.

The fight it grows thick, an’ our boys they fall,
An’ the shells like a banshee scream;
An’ the flag—it is torn by many a ball,
But to yield it we flever dhream.
Though pierced by bullets, yet still it bears
All the shtars in its tatthered field,
An’ again the brigade, like to one man swears,
“Not a shtar from the flag we yield!”
‘Twas the deep, hot oath, I tell you thrue,
That lay close to the hearts of our Boys in Blue.

Shure, the fight it was won, afther many a year.
But two thirds of the boys who bore
That flag from their wives and sweethearts dear
Returned to their homes no more.
They died by the bulled—disease had power.
An’ to death they were rudely tossed;
But the thought came warm in their dying hour.
“Not a shtar from the flag is lost!”
Then they said their pathers and aves through,
An’, like Irishmen, died—did our Boys in Blue.

But now they tell us some shtars are gone,
Torn out by the rebel gale;
That the shtars we fought for, the states we won,
Are still out of the Union’s pale.
May their sowls in the dioul’s hot kitchen glow
Who sing such a lyin’ shtrain;
By the dead in their graves, it shall not be so—
They shall have what they died to gain!
All the shtars in our flag shall still shine through
The grass growing soft o’er our Dead in Blue!

Robert B. Roosevelt, ed., The Poetical Works of Charles G. Halpine (Myles O’Reilly) (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1869), 119.

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About Pat McNamara