Saturday, 19 April 2014

EASTER SPIRIT OF PADRAIGH HENRY PEARSE




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bullet holes at the General Post Office, Dublin,



I spent hours rereading Irish history (from the Great Famine, aka the Potato Famine 1845-1852, through the Easter Rising 1916), and the poems of Padráig Pearse (Patrick Henry Pearse). He was gifted with words, and was chosen to be spokesman for theEaster Rising in 1916. He wrote of a mother’s heart awash in the blood of sons who fought for country in his poem "The Mother," something I can relate to, at least in part. (I have not had a son at war, but I have experienced childbirth, and a mother's heart.)

Padráig, his brother Willie and thirteen others were executed after the rebellion, after being held in the Kilmainham jail. Into our psyche all this bloody history 
About the photos: I took the photo at top in front of Dublin's General Post Office in 2007 to document the bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising. When I took the picture, I did not even see the man in the background. Later, someone pointed out the remarkable and eerie resemblance to Padráig Pearse (second photo), who proclaimed an Irish Republic practically on the same spot where the man in my photo stands.   
  BY RUTH MOWRY




Easter, 1916

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 wingèd 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.
FOOTNOTES: September 25, 1916

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
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