Jane Wilde

27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896

Work While It Is Called To-Day

“No man hath hired us”—strong hands drooping,
Listless, falling in idleness down;
Men in the silent market‐place grouping
Round Christ’s cross of silent stone.

“No man hath hired us”—pale hands twining,
Stalwart forms bowed down to sue.
“The red dawn is passed, the noon is shining,
But no man hath given us work to do.”
Then a voice pealed down from the heights of Heaven:
Men, it said, of the Irish soil!
I gave you a land as a Garden of Eden,
Where you and your sons should till and toil;
I set your throne by the glorious waters,
Where ocean flung round you her mighty bands,
That your sails, like those of your Tyrian fathers,
Might sweep the shores of a hundred lands.
Power I gave to the hands of your leaders,
Wisdom I gave to the lips of the wise,
And your children grew as the stately cedars,
That shadowed the rivers of Paradise.
What have ye done with my land of beauty
Has the spoiler bereft her of robe and crown?
Have my people failed in a people’s duty?
Has the wild boar trampled my vineyard down?
True, they answered, faint in replying
Our vines are rent by the wild boar’s tusks;
The corn on our golden slopes is lying,
But our children feed on the remnant husks.
Our strong men lavish their blood for others;
Our prophets and wise men are heard no more;
Our young men give a last kiss to their mothers,
Then sail away for a foreign shore.
From wooded valleys and mountain gorges,
Emerald meadow and purple glen,
Across the foam of the wild sea surges,
They flee away like exiled men.
Yet, the chant we hear of the new Evangels,
Rising like incense from earth’s green sod;

We—we alone, before worshipping Angels,
Idly stand in the Garden of God.
Then the Lord came down from the heights of Heaven,
Came down that garden fair to view,
Where the weary men waited from morn till even,
For some one to give them work to do.
Ye have sinned, He said, and the angel lustre
Darkened slowly as summer clouds may;
Weeds are growing where fruit should cluster,
Yet, ye stand idle all the day.
Have ye trod in the furrows, and worked as truly
As men who knew they should reap as they sow?
Have ye flung in the seed and watched it duly,
Day and night, lest the tares should grow?
Have ye tended the vine my hand hath planted,
Pruned and guided its tendrils fair;
Ready with life‐blood, if it were wanted,
To strengthen the fruit its branches bear?
Have ye striven in earnest, working solely
To guard my flock in their native fold?
Are your hands as pure, and your hearts as holy,
As the saints who walk in the City of Gold?
Go! work in my vineyard, let none deceive ye,
Each for himself his work must do;
And whatever is right shall my Angels give ye,
The work and the workman shall have their due.
Who knoweth the times of the new dispensations?
Go on in faith, and the light will come;
The last may yet be the first amongst nations,
Wait till the end for the final doom.
The last may be first! Shall our Country’s glory
Ever flash light on the path we have trod?
Who knows?—who knows?—for our future story
Lies hid in the great sealed Book of God.
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