To My Eldest Child
My little firstborn daughter sweet—
My child, yet half of alien race—
England and Ireland surely meet,
Their feuds forgotten, in thy face.
To both these lands I'd have thee give
Thy maiden heart, surrendered free;
For both alike I'd have thee live,
Since both alike do live in thee.
In thee they lay their strife aside,
That were so worn with dire unrest,
These whom the waters parted wide,
But who commingle in thy breast.
These will I teach thee to revere,
To love, and serve, and understand;
Nor chide thee if thou hold more dear
Thy mother's than thy father's land.
The English fields, in sun and rain,
Were round about thee at thy birth;
But thou shalt ache with Ireland's pain,
And thou shalt laugh with Ireland's mirth.
Thou shalt be taught her noble songs,
And thou shalt grieve whene'er is told
The story of her ancient wrongs,
The story of her sorrows old.
And often, in thy English home,
Her voice will call, and thou obey.
Thy heart will cross the sundering foam,
Thy soul to Ireland sail away
Ah, little flower! in Irish ground
Thy roots are deeper than the sea,
Though English woodlands murmured round
The house of thy nativity.
Of both these peoples thou wert born,
Of both these lands thou art the child;
A symbol of the radiant morn
That shall behold them reconciled.
William Watson. Retrogression and Other Poems. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1917.