Wednesday, March 11, 2015

With Thistles Growing Everywhere

The Thistle
(Dedicated to Thomas Somerville)
by John Alexander Joyce

Let England boast of ivy green,
Of beef and gold and gristle;
But still my soul shall always lean
To Scotland and its thistle.

Old Ireland may its shamrock praise,
Romantic airs still whistle;
Yet give me back my childhood days—
Dear Scotland and its thistle.

Gay France may boast the lily white,
Its slopes with vines may bristle,
Yet all its joys both day and night
Can't vie with Scotland's thistle.

Columbia, my adopted land,
Sweet liberty, thy story;
To thee I freely give my hand,
My heart for Scotland's glory.

The land of Wallace, Bruce, and Burns,
Refreshed by Highland misle,
To thee my throbbing heart still turns,
My Scotland and its thistle.

'Tis there the bonny Doon and Ayr
Reflect the evening shadow,
With thistles growing everywhere
'Mid mountain, marsh, and meadow.

John Alexander Joyce (1842-1915) himself was Irish by birth, although he spent much of his life as a lawyer in the United States. I don't know who the Thomas Somerville was to whom the poem was dedicated, but Somerville has been a Scottish name since the twelfth century. Joyce wrote an autobiography. I've only glanced over it, but it's a pretty full life: he was a soldier in the U. S. Civil War, went all over the United States, met Brigham Young, was put on trial for defrauding the revenue laws (as a scapegoat, he claims), and was pardoned by Rutherford B. Hayes.

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