Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter (1916)

"Here's to the Irish
The Men that God made mad
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad."
- G.K.Chesterton.


The words of William Butler Yeats can say far more than I could ever dream of accomplishing.

I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.


These are pictures of some of those men.



Michael, The O'Rahilly. Killed in action. He crawled to his doorstep and had enough strength to scrawl a note to his wife and three children. It said It was a good fight anyhow.




Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. Arrested easter tuesday, 1916. Shot without trial at the Portobello Barracks May 3, 1916. A pacifist who argued passionately against any form of armed rebellion even in self-defense. Founder of Sinn Fein.



Eoin MacNeill, B.A. Sentenced by Court Martial to Penal Servitude for Life. Co-founder of the Gaelic League. President of the Irish Volunteers. When he learned that a shipment of arms from Germany had been intercepted by the English he tried to stop the rising from proceeding. He took out an ad in the Sunday Independent cancelling "scheduled manoeuvers."



√Čamon de Valera. Sentenced to death. Commuted to Penal Servitude for life. Released in 1917. President of the Republic of Ireland 1959 to 1973. Died 1975, age 92. When questioned by a New York Times reporter on the Irish neutrality during World War II, he remarked "Mr. Hitler is bombing London? La."



Sean Connelly, playwright. Killed in action while attempting to raise a green flag with a golden harp atop the dome of City Hall. He had used that same flag in a play he wrote where the main character deserts the British army carrying a green flag, saying "Under this flag only will I serve. Under this flag, if need be, I will die."



Thomas Ashe. Sentenced to death upon surrender. Commuted to Penal Servitude for Life. Died 25 September, 1917 from complications due to forced feeding in the prison at Mountjoy. He had begun his hunger strike demanding he and other Republicans be treated as prisoners of war.



Michael O'Hanrahan. Executed by firing squad before trial at Kilmainham Prison May 4, 1916. Author of "The Swordsman of the Brigade."




Thomas J. Clarke. The first man to sign the Easter Proclamation. Upon surrender taken to Kilmainham Prison, shot by a firing squad without trial May 3, 1917.











Tune to "Down By the Glenside"
by Paedar Kearny

'Twas down by the glenside, I met an old woman
She was picking young nettles and she scarce saw me coming
I listened a while to the song she was humming
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men

'Tis fifty long years since I saw the moon beaming
On strong manly forms and their eyes with hope gleaming
I see them again, sure, in all my daydreaming
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.

When I was a young girl, their marching and drilling
Awoke in the glenside sounds awesome and thrilling
They loved poor old Ireland and to die they were willing
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.

Some died on the glenside, some died near a stranger
And wise men have told us that their cause was a failure
They fought for old Ireland and they never feared danger
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men

I passed on my way, God be praised that I met her
Be life long or short, sure I'll never forget her
We may have brave men, but we'll never have better
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men


Tomorrow, music from the Chieftains and Sinead O'Connor.

3B's

4 Comments:

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very prescient camera. . .

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