I Speak to you, brother, because you have spoken to me, or rather you have spoken for me. I am a native of Ulster. So far back as I can trace the faith of my forefathers they held the faith for whose free observance you are afraid.
I call you brother, for so far as I am known beyond the circle of my personal friends it is as a poet. We are not a numerous tribe, but the world has held us in honor, because on the whole in poetry is found the highest and sincerest utterance of man’s spirit. In this manner of speaking if a man is not sincere his speech betrayeth him, for all true poetry was written on the Mount of Transfiguration, and there is revelation in it and the mingling of heaven and earth. I am jealous of the honor of poetry, and I am jealous of the good name of my country, and I am impelled by both emotions to speak to you.
You have blood of our race in you, and you may, perhaps, have some knowledge of Irish sentiment. You have offended against one of our noblest literary traditions in the manner in which you have published your thoughts. You begin by quoting Scripture. You preface your verses on Ulster by words from the mysterious oracles of humanity as if you had been inflamed and inspired by the prophet of God; and you go on to sing of faith in peril and patriotism betrayed and the danger of death and oppression by those who do murder by night, which things, if one truly feels, he speaks of without consideration of commerce or what it shall profit him to speak. But you, brother, have withheld your fears for your country and mine until they could yield you a profit in two continents. After all this high speech about the Lord and the hour of national darkness it shocks me to find this following your verses: “Copyrighted in the United States of America by Rudyard Kipling.” You are not in want. You are the most successful man of letters of your time, and yet you are not above making profit out of the perils of your country. You ape the lordly speech of the prophets, and you conclude by warning everybody not to reprint your words at their peril. In Ireland every poet we honor has dedicated his genius to his country without gain, and has given without stint, without any niggardly withholding of his gift when his nation was dark and evil days. Not one of our writers, when deeply moved about Ireland, has tried to sell the gift of the spirit. You, brother, hurt me when you declare your principles, and declare a dividend to yourself out of your patriotism openly and at the same time.
I would not reason with you, but that I know there is something truly great and noble in you, and there have been hours when the immortal in you secured your immortality in literature, when you ceased to see life with that hard cinematograph eye of yours, and saw with the eyes of the spirit, and power and tenderness and insight were mixed in magical tales. But you were far from the innermost when you wrote of my countrymen us you did.
I have lived all my life in Ireland, holding a different faith from that held by the majority. I know Ireland as few Irishmen know it, county by county, for I traveled all over Ireland for years, and, Ulster man as I am, and proud of the Ulster people, I resent the crowning of Ulster with all the virtues and the dismissal of other Irishmen as thieves and robbers. I resent the cruelty with which you, a stranger, speak of the lovable and kindly people I know.