Lay His Sword By His Side

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Melody - "If the Sea Were Ink"
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Thomas Moore, from Irish Melodies, vol. 10

Lay his sword by his side - it hath served him too well*
Not to rest near his pillow below;
To the last moment true, from his hand ere it fell,
Its point was still turn'd to a flying foe.
Fellow-labourers in life, let them slumber in death,
Side by side, as becomes the reposing brave
That sword which he loved still unbroke in its sheath,
And himself unsubdued in his grave.

2. Yet pause - for, in fancy, a still voice I hear,
As if breathed from his brave heart's remains;
Faint echo of that which, in Slavery's ear,
Once sounded the war-word, "Burst your chains."
And it cries, from the grave where the hero lies deep,
"Though the day of your Chieftain for ever hath set,
Oh leave not his sword thus inglorious to sleep
It hath victory's life in it yet!

3. "Should some alien, unworthy such weapon to wield,
Dare to touch thee, my own gallant sword,
Then rest in thy sheath, like a talisman seal'd,
Or return to the grave of thy chainless lord.
But, if grasp'd by a hand that hath learn'd the proud use
Of a falchion, like thee, on the battle-plain,
Then, at Liberty's summons, like lightning let loose,
Leap forth from thy dark sheath again!"


* It was the custom of the ancient Irish, in the manner of the Scythians, to bury the favourite swords of their heroe along with them.

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