I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,.
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,
I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!
I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters ofmy people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains.
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgctting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people.
Who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held.
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Since the wise men have not spoken, I speak that am only a fool;
A fool that hath loved his folly,
Yea, more than the wise men their books or their counting houses, or their quiet homes,
Or their fame in men’s mouths;
A fool that in all his days hath done never a prudent thing,
Never hath counted the cost, nor recked if another reaped
The fruit of his mighty sowing, content to scatter the seed;
A fool that is unrepentant, and that soon at the end of all
Shall laugh in his lonely heart as the ripe ears fall to the reaping-hooks
And the poor are filled that were empty,
Tho’ he go hungry.
I have squandered the splendid years that the Lord God gave to my youth
In attempting impossible things, deeming them alone worth the toil.
Was it folly or grace? Not men shall iudge me, but God.
I have squandered the splendid years:
Lord, if I had the years I would squander them over again,
Aye, fling them from me!
For this I have heard in my heart, that a man shall scatter, not hoard,
Shall do the deed of to-day, nor take thought of to-morrow’s teen,
Shall not bargain or huxter with God; or was it a jest of Christ’s
And is this my sin before men, to have taken Him at His word?
The lawyers have sat in council, the men with the keen, long faces,
And said, “This man is a fool,” and others have said, “He blasphemeth;”
And the wise have pitied the fool that hath striven to give a life
In the world of time and space among the bulks of actual things,
To a dream that was dreamed in the heart, and that only the heart could hold.
O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?
Lord, I have staked my soul, I have staked the lives of my kin
On the truth of Thy dreadful word. Do not remember my failures,
But remember this my faith.
And so I speak.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
O people that I have loved shall we not answer together?
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Kathleen Lynn (1874–1955), a clergyman's daughter from Co. Mayo, was a medical doctor devoted to services for the poor, a woman's suffragist and separatist. Chief medical officer of the Irish Citizen Army, during the Easter Rising she supervised a first-aid station in Dublin City Hall until t he garrison's surrender. In 1919 she established St Ultan's Hospital for Infants, and in the 1930s pioneered BCG inoculations against tuberculosis.
Constance Markievicz (1868–1927) was born in London, the daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth of Lissadell, Co. Sligo. Breaking with her Ascendancy background. she joined Sinn Féin and Inghinidhe na hÉireann, and co-founded Na Fianna Éireann in 1909. During Easter week she served as second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army garrison in the College of Surgeons. Her death sentence was commuted and she was released from prison in June 1917. The first woman to be elected a Westminster MP in 1918, she was minister for labour in the Dáil cabinet (1919–21).
Helena Molony (1883–1967) was a grocer's daughter from Dublin's north city-centre market district. Active in the feminist and separatist movements, she was an Abbey Theatre actress, trade union official, secretary of the Irish Citizen Army women's group, and manager of the Liberty Hall women workers' co·operative which made uniforms and equipment in preparation for the Easter Rising. She served in the ICA City Hall garrison that surrendered on the evening of Easter Monday, and was interned in England until December 1916.
Elizabeth O'Farrell (1884–1957) was born in Dublin and worked as a midwife at Holles Street hospital. A committed trade unionist. she was also involved in nationalist and suffragist organisations. She served in the GPO during Easter week. delivering Pearse's offer of surrender to British forces, and his surrender order to other insurgent garrisons. After the Easter Rising, she remained a dedicated republican activist.
Mary Perolz (1874–1950) was born in Market Alley, Limerick city and raised in Tralee and Cork city, where her father worked on the Cork Examiner. Prominent in Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army, she was dispatched as a courier carrying the remobilisation orders from Patrick Pearse to the Cork city Volunteers. Elected acting president for the Irish Women Workers' Union in 1917. she remained an outspoken champion of the rights of women in industry and the labour movement.
Margaret Skinnider (1893–1971) was a Glasgow-born mathematics teacher of Co. Monaghan extraction. Joining the lrish Citizen Army on a Dublin visit, she returned to assist in preparations for the Easter Rising. During Easter week she cycled around Dublin carrying dispatches and also took sniper duty in military uniform in the College of Surgeons. Critically wounded in a sortie, she was the most serious female casualty among the rebels, and recovered after seven weeks in hospital.
Illustrations by David Rooney, from 1916: Portraits and Lives (Royal Irish Academy).
Also see: “Eight Women of the Easter Rising” by Sadhbh Walshe, New York Times, March 16, 2016