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The Word and the Deed

John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 (Dowth) – 1890 (Boston)

THE Word was first, says the revelation:
Justice is older than error or strife;
The Word preceded the Incarnation
As symbol and type of law and life.
And always so are the mighty changes:
The word must be sown in the heart like seed;
Men's hands must tend it, their lives defend it,
Till it burst into flower as a deathless Deed.

The primal truth neither dies nor slumbers,
But lives as the test of the common right,
That the laws proclaimed by the sworded numbers
May stand arraigned in the people's sight.
The Word is great, and no Deed is greater,
When both are of God, to follow or lead;
But, alas, for the truth when the Word comes later,
With questioned steps, to sustain the Deed.
 
Not the noblest acts can be true solutions;
The soul must be sated before the eye,
Else the passionate glory of revolutions
Shall pass like the flames that flash and die.
But forever the gain when the heart's convictions,
Rooted in nature the masses lead;
The cries of rebellion are benedictions
When the Word has flowered in a perfect Deed.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilly was an Irish-born poet, journalist and fiction writer. more…

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