Requiem For The Croppies:
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching…on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We`d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown..
Until…on Vinegar Hill…the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August…the barley grew up out of our grave.
~~ Seamus Heaney ~~
Seamus Heaney has died, age 74, a Catholic in a Protestant dominated Northern Ireland: published on the 50th anniversary of the 1917 Easter Uprising, Requiem for the Poppies is a poem which commemorates the Irish rebels of 1798; the Catholic Irish have always seen themselves as a second class, occupied citizenry in their own land. This is the poem he read to a 1960`s Protestant audience which listened to it in frosty, glacial silence. It`s a romanticised vision of Irish rebellion but it`s aim is clear and simple…..listen to the history of the words: they don`t need to be full of raucous, heroic bluster; sit in silence and allow the heart to feel a thousand years of Irish pain.