Jump to content
Poetry Magnum Opus

The Rising (pls. go to the rewrite 1916)


Recommended Posts

All is changed, changed utterly,

A terrible beauty is born

-- W.B. Yeats


Idiots, really,

drunk on oratory and illusions:

a poet's rebellion with real bullets.


Christ is crucified.

Christ is risen.

Christ will live again.


I love how they went to the tailors,

taking fittings for fine new uniforms,

tunics and belts to be buried in.


It was the style of the thing --

sauntering out, sartorially splendid,

at lunchtime on a public holiday.


A sidelong smirk, a furtive wave,

Jayzus, Jim, and what’s the craic?

Can’t talk, Joe, I’m on Parade!


The GPO. Left Wheel! Attack!

Look here, young fella, do you mind,

amn’t I next in the queue for stamps!


Kindly leave the premises, madam.

Volunteer Muldoon! On yer bike, missus,

G’wan, get away on out of it.


Run up the flag, the Plough and Stars,

Read out the lengthy Proclamation!

Wha’? The hell’s that fella after sayin’?


Jayz, look, here come the bloody Lancers!

Clippety-clopping along the cobblestones:

Volunteers! Five rounds rapid … Fire!


O God, dey do be dead!

Bear up, Muldoon, there is the enemy.

Feck the sojers, sorr, dem lubbly horses!


Agnus Dei

qui tollis peccata mundi:


The English are capitalists, says Connolly,

they would never destroy public property!

The shells rain down on the central city.


Machine guns, snipers, rake the roadsteads,

and in little heaps, in shapeless huddled rags,

gawking civilians go down in the crossfire.


Explosions, the zing and ring and ping

of bullets caroming off the stonework:

Get away, ya hoor, ya feckin missed!


Fires take hold, walls glow, they grow white-hot,

as the ceiling burns, sags, starts to collapse:

ammunition low, the lads keep banging away.


Jayz, Muldoon, yeh shoulda stopped in the pub!

We must charge the barricades, cries Connolly,

Eh, could we not, like, crawl behind them, sorr?


Hippety-hop, out one of the side doors,

the bullets spark on the flags of Henry Street:

a skip and a jump and it’s into Moore Lane.


Fires all around, bullets at every crossroad,

sandbag redoubts at the end of each street:

The O’Rahilly leaps up and leads a charge


but they’re all knocked over, bowled like skittles,

bleeding, groaning, beside upturned market barrows

among the cabbage leaves and cauliflowers.


It’s then that a bemused Commandant Pearse,

after seven days of ceaseless noise and slaughter,

decides the time has come to pack things in.


But how to get the English to stop firing?

White flags have been no help to dead civilians,

nor even the sad appeasement of Union Jacks.


The Army over time has gone wild and feral,

and enraged by the sting of unheard-of losses,

means to impose revenge on this rebel City.


Let me try, says the nurse, Elizabeth O’Farrell,

and with a bold wave of her Red Cross flag,

she steps out into the bullet-swept street …


And the English hold their fire.

Silence: Christ on the Cross.


What follows is a tale of the times:

General Lowe, the British Officer Commanding,

cannot accept surrender from a woman!


Cluck, cluck, dither, dither, woof, woof!

We smile with delight and say Only in Ireland,

but the English surely helped us along.


Three hours later, the whole thing’s over,

and we can see the blurred but famous photo:

Pearse surrenders to General Lowe.


It’s over, so quixotic, so silly,

such a desperate hopeless military fling

in the face of a furious Empire


who were none too bloody pleased

at this stab in the back, as they saw it,

in the midst of a War they were losing!


Comes the question of retribution,

and with it comes the turning point,

when England loses Ireland forever.


Our city has been thrown into flaming ruins,

and the populace is enraged, not with the English,

but with these home-grown fanatical bastards!


When the prisoners are led to the docks

the whole city turns out to jeer and pelt them:

Look at yez now, yeh bleedin’ bowsies!


England has only to be calm and cool,

to be reassuring, play on the prevailing mood,

but opts instead for savage executions.


First there is silent and stunned disbelief,

whispered murmurings, a stirring of anger,

and then the first photographs begin to appear.


Images of the executed leaders proliferate,

first in private homes, then in gathering places,

then in public places throughout the land.


When the British go angrily tearing them down,

the well-known stubborn streak comes out,

and the mood of the whole country changes.


The lads fought a fair fight, stood up to them,

and were good clean-living boys, the most of them.

No need to go shooting them down like animals!


Christ is Crucified.

Christ is Risen.

Christ Will Live Again.

1916 was the blood sacrifice,

a purity of belief that stayed in our minds

and gave rise to Irish freedom.


When I think of the men of 1916

I wish I had been one among them,

racing down to the barricades


and fighting for Ireland, not actually dying,

(Muldoon muddled through, very glad to hear it)

just dodging the bullets, having the craic


and then boring the pants off people in the pub,

cadging drinks on the strength of a '16 Medal

for ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen.


Slideshow link: http://picasaweb.google.com/dedalus07/1916...feat=directlink

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bren, (Notice how I am careful not to mispell your name? :icon_redface: The truth is I am not really sure what your name is.) You don't have to be Irish to know the name Michael Collins and a bit of the struggles of the Irish. But I think you captured more than an "Irish thing" in this piece. That call to arms, a willingness to fight and die, a spirit of patriotism wells up inside when reading your words. This is a historical piece but it is also an emotional piece and I felt it and loved it.



~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Tinker, Brendan. The patriotism is apparent and ever-present in this poem. Also, as I've said in the past, I can appreciate the intellectual honesty one must be capable of if he's to look critically at his own culture. Many people are too blind or unwilling to do that.


As my legacy, I can stroll through the world

not with a UK but with an Irish passport

and get waved through all the dodgy borders:


Gach Aon Tír, it says, all countries,

because we have had no foreign enemies

apart from Sassenachs and hoary Vikings.

That's a big deal. Sounds good, but is it really? It's not enemies from afar, rather it's the neighbors who are the enemies! With Estonia, there were invaders from afar (Germans, Swedes, Danes), but always there was the threat close to home, the big neighbor next door.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When God was creating various countries he gave Ireland green fields, a romantic coastline, comely maidens, the gift of the gab and a love of literature, a unique and expressive music, and then He said to Himself, hold on, I'm giving these people too many good things. Wait, God thought, I know ... I'll put the English next door! (An old Irish joke). Nevertheless, The Big Neighbor Next Door -- the nightmare of all small nations, Tony!


I wouldn't say I'm patriotic, Tink, not in the sense of flags, anthems and uniforms and the usual oul' bombast. I'm just very very grateful to the guys who stuck their necks out over the centuries and finally won our independence -- and not all that long ago, come to think of it, compared to the USA. I couldn't imagine living as a second-class citizen in the UK ... 'Ewww, Aym toold yore Ahrish?' ... well, I could but don't want to. One has to be English, preferably London or Home Counties born and bred, or else a a scion of some wealthy family, to have true and genuine affection for the UK and look upon it as a Rather Good Thing. Even the neo-fascist National Front confine their loyalty to Ingerland -- and bedamned to the Scots and Welsh. These lads on the so-called Celtic Fringe have an awful chip on their shoulders vis-a-vis the English but have got themselves so entangled in the warp and woof of the myriad social, political and economic strands that there seems little chance of any clean break. Had Ireland received Home Rule in 1886 (or even in 1893, the Second Home Rule Bill) there's a good chance we might have settled for Dominion status, like Australia, Canada and New Zealand today. But the uncontrolled fury of the Tory Party, threatening civil war against the duly elected (Liberal ) government after the Third Home Rule Bill passed in 1912, made such an outcome impossible. Outright rebellion followed. There's really no point adhering to a foreign Parliament if they dither and backtrack on their own decisions.


The Old IRA (1916-22) are almost respectable these days whereas the IRA of the Northern Troubles (1969-98) are still viewed with horror and distaste. In their motivation and in their methods, historically speaking, they are two manifestations of the same organisation three generations removed. Both were only partially successful in what they set out to do. But in the fullness of time the Free State of 1922 became the Republic of 1949. If this margin is anything to go by, we need to wait another 20 years or so to see what becomes of Northern Ireland. There won't be any further wars, nor will there be any more interventions by British troops. It might take longer than twenty years but I dare say re-unification of the island into a single political entity will occur peacefully enough within the lifetime of our family's children ... maybe the grandchildren. But it will happen.


Slán anois,


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.