HISTORY

 

 

ADVICE TO A PRINCE

by TEIGE MacDAIRE (BORN 1570 - DIED 1650)

Teige MacDaire, son of Daire MacBrody, was born about the year 1570. He was principal poet to Donough O'Brien, fourth Earl of Thomond, and as his appanage possessed the castle of Dunogan , with adjoining lands, in the west of Clare. MacDaire was an elegant and elaborate poet, as may be seen by his longest effort, from which we quote - Advice to a Prince. This poem was written in accordance with the ancient custom, which not only allowed but almost compelled the presentation of an ode of advice to the chieftain on his appointment, and was to be read before him when he was being enthroned.

MacDaire, in order to "elevate the house of O'Brien above the tribes descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, such as the O'Neils, O'Donnells, &c." attacked the works of Torna Eigeas, the last of the heathen bards. This brought forth an answer from O'Clery, who defended Torna, to which MacDaire replied, and reply and answer following reply and answer almost all the bards of north and south got mixed up in the poetic strife. The poems written on the subject, which were called the Contention of the Bards, are mostly still extant, and are very valuable for the light they throw on ancient Irish history. Of course the discussion ended as do all such discussions, by the parties to it becoming silent through exhaustion and weariness - neither side being convinced that it was in the wrong. MacDaire was assassinated by a marauding soldier of Cromwell's army some time about 1650. This soldier was most likely an Irishman, though serving the Cromwellians; for, as he treacherously flung MacDaire down a precipice, he cried out in Irish with exultant mockery, "Say your verses now, my little man!"

ADVICE TO A PRINCE

How serious is the task, how vastly great,
To teach a prince his duty to the state!
'Tis his each blessing on the land to bring,
And (what becomes a good and patriot king),
To draw his glory from such order'd sway,
That all may love and cheerfully obey-
To raise his country to a prosp'rous height,
Or plunge it deep in dark disastrous night!
Since by his deeds the state must rise or fall,
He should incline to hear th' advice of all. . . .
A king, as many a sage hath truly told,
If he his pow'r by tyranny uphold,
Must blast the public welfare and his own;
He sacrifices not himself alone!
Death, want, and famine ghastly stalk around
And rapine's voice is herad with horrid sound,
Plague, war and blood, disaster and defeat,
The rage of elements, the crash of fate,
The bane of anarchy - destructive train -
Sprung from the monarch's crimes, assume th' imperial reign.
Not so the king who rules with lawful sway,
No gloomy evil clouds his peaceful day!
Abundance spreads her joys, with copious hand.
Throughout great Feilims's fair-inclining land.
Propitious plenty spreads her wide domain
Through Erin's fields when rightful princes reign.
The land teems wealth, and all the harbours round
Productive prove; with fish the streams abound;
The seasons genial fruit abundant bring;
May all these blessings fair await my king!
And numerous fleets, if so his will ordain,
With richest treasures, crowding from the main.
Shall fill his harbours - for the fav'ring tides
Waft them in safety where just rule abides.

Thou mighty king of Lumnia's fertile plain,
Let not thy poet's warning voice be vain;
Most bounteous Hand of all the world's domain!
Oh ne'er forgetful from him turn astray,
From whom thou hold'st but delegated sway.
Monarch, his dreadful might and power attend,
Before whose throne the nations trembling bend:
To him resign thyself, - thy service whole, -
Let him completely occupy thy soul:
Forsake not ever, or the love, or fear,
Of him who rules the universal sphere.
The fear of God on man impress'd with force,
Of all true wisdom is the first great source!
Oh! daily let thy supplications rise
To him whom glory veils above the skies,
Though nothing 'scapes his all-beholding eyes.
If anxious cares disturb thy noble mind,
With him alone a sure redress you'll find.
Run not thy wayward will's inord'nate race;
It leads to fell disorder and disgrace;
Daily attend, my prince, thy people's cause,
For 'tis thy duty to dispense the laws.
No easy task, with justice to decide,
The tedious office yet you must abide. . . .
With calm deliberation judge the cause,
And justly dispensate to all the laws,
Thy mind not sinking or to awe or fear,
Or love or hate, - to keep the right severe.
For sordid bribes of silver or of gold,
Be not thy judgment basely bought and sold. . .
In wood-crown'd Fodla 'tis a law supreme,
That just decisions permanency claim:
If friends oppose, then firm resistance show
Till, humbled, to thy majesty they bow.
And should thy foe to supplication bend,
Forgive, and treat him as a new-made friend.
Thou mighty prop of Brian's race renown'd,
When war destructive breathes the plains around,
Furious be thy look and stern thy mien. . . .
Son of my soul, be then thy spirit prov'd,
And in the battle's rage persist unmov'd. . .
To man of violence intrust no pow'r,
Or else thy country rues the fatal hour;
Attempt not, sovereign of Tumonia's plain,
T'engage in war that justice won't maintain;
Nor e'er resign thy right for dubious peace,
If thou wouldst guard thy pow'r against disgrace.
Restrain thy will, nor to extremes proceed;
Admit, sometimes, that thou be disobey'd;
Yet sooner will the land thy rule abide:
Oppose strong patience to thy wrath's full tide,
Slow to engage, but certain to maintain
His plighted faith, oppressors to restrain;
To shield the weak, the turbulent chastise,
To stablish peace, both lasting, just, and wise,
A mighty monarch's reign immortalize.
Though numerous precepts still I could unfold,
For thy sure guidance, yet will I withhold,
Reserv'd my further counsel: - for, imprest
Be this just maxim deep upon thy breast,
Instruction briefly given is the best.

I will not, till my footsteps you pursue,
Praise thy fair limbs, or frame of fulgent hue;
Nor round, strong knee, torso, well form'd and fair,
Nor tap'ring active foot, alert as air,
Nor lib'ral soul, majestic, great, and good,
Prompt, fearless, brave, impetuous as the flood;
Undaunted, firm, with native valour fir'd;
For prowess, might, and steadiness admir'd;
Facetious, - mild, as zephyrs gentle blow,
Nor ever furious, but against the foe.

Yet will I praise, nor will my voice alone
Be rais'd to celebrate thy great renown. . . .
If thou fulfil the purport of my lays,
From letter'd source derive'd of wisdom's ways;
The glorious sun shall spread thy praises round,
And feather'd songsters warble the sweet sound;
Each element beneath high heav'n's expanse,
Earth, water, air, will in full choir advance,
To sing in strain sublime, that ne'er will die,
Thy beaming, sprightly, animated eye.
The hum of bees will murmur o'er the woods,
And sportive trouts will wanton through the floods,
And e'en the sea-calves their deep tones will raise,
At once with me to celebrate thy praise.
The king, the warrior, the poetic sage,
Who live to see the blessings of thine age,
Shall praise thy name, thy great wise deeds avow,
And none thine equal, virtuous prince, allow!

Copyright 1998 by Andrew J. Morris -- http://www.genealogy.org/~ajmorris/