He met some friends in a village street,
Who urged him away to join their “treat”,
In the public house. I chanced to be
Where I could hear it all, and see.
He was only a lad; and my hopes were small
That he would resist the tempting call.
He loved not whiskey, beer, or wine,
But his love for his friends was genuine.
Comradeship, custom, and human pride
Are powerful allies side by side;
And young lads are loth to be counted mean,
And like to be classed with “the decent,” I ween.
To join his friends in a drink or two
Would be no great crime. What would he do?
Would he view the case with worldly eyes?
Or soar aloft to the sacrifice?
For a little while he did not speak;
Then a blush, like a girl’s suffused his cheek:
He thought of some words of his mother dead –
Then sadly but firmly, “No,” he said.
I thought of Cassabianca then;
I thought of Pearse, and Pearse-like men.
And afterwards oft’ my thoughts would go
To the hero lad who answered “No.”
A trusted man with an honoured name,
In his native land well known to fame;
Nobility stamped on his ample brow –
A man among men that lad is now.
MICHAEL MULLIN, ‘The Bard of Foremass’,
Foremass Lower, Sixmilecross, Co. Tyrone.