‘Befitting Emblems of Adversity’ #bobbysands #Ireland

Bobby Sands, 9th March 1954 - 5th May 1981.

Bobby Sands, 9th March 1954 – 5th May 1981. 

On the anniversary of the death of Irish Republican, Bobby Sands in 1981, I found myself reading Seamus Heaney’s discussion on his own poem, ‘Requiem for the Croppies’ in an essay entitled ‘Feeling into Words’. He wrote the poem on the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising. 

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.

As Seamus Heaney wrote himself, the image of resurrection begins and ends the poem. The barley seeds that the ‘croppies’ carried in their pockets for food, sprouted and grew from their graves.

Heaney uses these seeds as a metaphor.  The seeds of rebellion being sown in 1798 and flowering during the Easter Rising of 1916 (‘Feeling Into Words’, S. Heaney, ‘Finders Keepers’, 2002).

Heaney observed;

Q   ‘How with all this rage shall beauty hold a plea?’

A    by offering, ‘befitting emblems of adversity’.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s