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Today is Poetry Day 2016, when we recognise the contribution of the poetic arts to our history and culture. This year, in keeping with the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the theme is Revolution. To celebrate Headstuff are sharing poems from our Revolution NOW series which draw their inspiration from the events and aftermath of 1916.
Down the straight lane of Ahamlish cemetery,
Where slow tyres crackle on gravel,
Cold wind squeezes between headstones,
Ruffling ivy like a gadfly.
I know these names: Feeney, Gallagher,
Wymbs, Leonard, McHugh –
The names of lads I knew in school.
I see the names of my relations, too.
Two rifles crossed, engraved in gold
On glossy black stone.
“Willie, Irish Republican Army”.
Some words in a language I barely understand.
The streets are clogged with chanting masses,
Broken men in lichened suits.
I’ve nothing to say – I’m not that man.
Maybe I need a gun in my face.
Plans were laid in Lang’s barn,
Over fattening words of an old man’s murder
And the burning of a creamery,
Thirty men chosen for the deed.
Willie lay in wait near here
With a shotgun and a can of tea.
Bullets echoed over Moneygold fields,
And four men never stood again.
He went forty-two prison days without food,
But we all live with our mythologies.
When asked if he ever killed, he said:
“Let the man above be the judge of that.”
You can join in the celebrations at one of the hundreds of poetry events happening around the country today – find a Poetry Day event near you.