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The Awakening Of The Fires
by [?]

When twilight flutters the mountains over
The faery lights from the earth unfold,
And over the hills enchanted hover
The giant heroes and gods of old:
The bird of aether its flaming pinions
Waves over earth the whole night long:
The stars drop down in their blue dominions
To hymn together their choral song:
The child of earth in his heart grows burning
Mad for the night and the deep unknown;
His alien flame in a dream returning
Seats itself on the ancient throne.
When twilight over the mountains fluttered
And night with its starry millions came,
I too had dreams; the thoughts I have uttered.
Come from my heart that was touched by the flame

I thought over the attempts made time after time to gain our freedom; how failure had followed failure until at last it seemed that we must write over hero and chieftain of our cause the memorial spoken of the warriors of old, “They went forth to the battle but they always fell;” and it seemed to me that these efforts resulted in failure because the ideals put forward were not in the plan of nature for us; that it was not in our destiny that we should attempt a civilization like that of other lands. Though the cry of nationality rings for ever in our ears, the word here has embodied to most no other hope than this, that we should when free be able to enter with more energy upon pursuits already adopted by the people of other countries. Our leaders have erected no nobler standard than theirs, and we who, as a race, are the forlorn hope of idealism in Europe, sink day by day into apathy and forget what a past was ours and what a destiny awaits us if we will but rise responsive to it. Though so old in tradition this Ireland of today is a child among the nations of the world; and what a child, and with what a strain of genius in it! There is all the superstition, the timidity and lack of judgment, the unthought recklessness of childhood, but combined with what generosity and devotion, and what an unfathomable love for its heroes. Who can forget that memorable day when its last great chief was laid to rest? He was not the prophet of our spiritual future; he was not the hero of our highest ideals; but he was the only hero we knew. The very air was penetrated with the sobbing and passion of unutterable regret. Ah, Eri, in other lands there is strength and mind and the massive culmination of ordered power, but in thee alone is there such love as the big heart of childhood can feel. It is this which maketh all thy exiles turn with longing thoughts to thee.

Before trying her to indicate a direction for the future, guessed from brooding on the far past and by touching on the secret springs in the heart of the present, it may make that future seem easier of access if I point out what we have escaped and also show that we have already a freedom which, though but half recognized, is yet our most precious heritage. We are not yet involved in a social knot which only red revolution can sever: our humanity, the ancient gift of nature to us, is still fresh in our veins: our force is not merely the reverberation of a past, an inevitable momentum started in the long ago, but is free for newer life to do what we will with in the coming time.

I know there are some who regret this, who associate national greatness with the whirr and buzz of many wheels, the smoke of factories and with large dividends; and others, again, who wish that our simple minds were illuminated by the culture and wisdom of our neighbours. But I raise the standard of idealism, to try everything by it, every custom, every thought before we make it our own, and every sentiment before it finds a place in our hearts. Are these conditions, social and mental, which some would have us strive for really so admirable as we are assured they are? Are they worth having at all? What of the heroic best of man; how does that show? His spirituality, beauty and tenderness, are these fostered in the civilizations of today? I say if questions like these bearing upon that inner life wherein is the real greatness of nations cannot be answered satisfactorily, that it is our duty to maintain our struggle, to remain aloof, lest by accepting a delusive prosperity we shut ourselves from our primitive sources of power. For this spirit of the modern, with which we are so little in touch, is one which tends to lead man further and further from nature. She is no more to him the Great Mother so reverently named long ago, but merely an adjunct to his life, the distant supplier of his needs. What to the average dweller in cities are stars and skies and mountains? They pay no dividends to him, no wages. Why should he care about them indeed. And no longer concerning himself about nature what wonder is it that nature ebbs out of him. She has her revenge, for from whatever standpoint of idealism considered the average man shows but of pigmy stature. For him there is no before or after. In his material life he has forgotten or never heard of the heroic traditions of his race, their aspirations to godlike state. One wonders what will happen to him when death ushers him out from the great visible life to the loneliness amid the stars. To what hearth or home shall he flee who never raised the veil of nature while living, nor saw it waver tremulous with the hidden glory before his eyes? The Holy Breath from the past communes no more with him, and if he is oblivious of these things, though a thousand workman call him master, within he is bankrupt, his effects sequestered, a poor shadow, an outcast from the Kingdom of Light.