Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poetry - I see his Blood upon the Rose by Joseph Mary Plunkett

A huge amount has been written of the Great War Poets over the years and many of these individuals were inspired to write by the horrors of the Great War from 1914 to 1918, in which they played so tragic a part. They are immortalised for their contribution to literature, and rightfully so.

During this same period, Ireland also had academics and scholars who were drawn into an armed struggle in pursuit of a cause they passionately believed in. The 1916 Rising saw the execution of two such men, Padraig Pearse and Joseph Mary Plunkett. Our national school education led us to believe that Plunkett composed the following poem the evening before his execution in Kilmainham Jail (and also that he married on the same day). Whether this is true or not, the piece of poetry is one of the educational remnants of my time in "primary education" and it remains as powerful now as on the day I first read it, short pants and all.

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.