Guest poem sent in by Frank O'Shea
(Poem #1188) The Mother
I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge My two strong sons that I have seen go out To break their strength and die, they and a few, In bloody protest for a glorious thing, They shall be spoken of among their people, The generations shall remember them, And call them blessed; But I will speak their names to my own heart In the long nights; The little names that were familiar once Round my dead hearth. Lord, thou art hard on mothers: We suffer in their coming and their going; And tho' I grudge them not, I weary, weary Of the long sorrow--And yet I have my joy: My sons were faithful, and they fought.
(1879-1916) In any war, people are killed; soldiers are killed. Right now, there are American and British and Australian mothers who wonder if they will see their sons again. This poem is from a different war and a different time, but the sentiments outlive time and place. The poem was written the night before Pearse's execution by firing squad; his brother was executed some days later. It is customary now to decry the kind of patriotism which Pearse represented. His sincere love for his country has been corrupted by the savagery of the IRA, just as his idea of the necessity of blood sacrifice (cf Yeats "There's nothing but our own red blood / Can make a right Rose Tree.") has been corrupted by suicide bombers. Yet he was a young man of great piety, a poet of some substance and an educator before that word was properly understood. His oration over the grave of the old Fenian O'Donovan Rossa bears comparison with any example of oratory anywhere. His sense of fierce love of Ireland he inherited from his Irish mother; his sensitivity to any form of injustice came from his English artisan father; if it is possible to imagine the best of both nations, it might be P H Pearse. Any search engine will list dozens of sites devoted to Pearse and his writings. Frank O'Shea Links: Biography: http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~jdana/pearsehist.html And a picture: [broken link] http://indigo.ie/~1916/pic_pearse.html Another poem written on the eve of the poet's execution is Poem #144, which makes an interesting companion to today's