This weeks top Irish poem comes in at number 25 and is a very sad poem.
But although sad a truly timeless poem. The back story is that on May 3rd 1916, Pádraig Pearse (1879-1916) was executed for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916 along with his brother, Willie.
This poem was in the final letter that he sent to his mother before being executed. Pearse’s love for his mother also resonates in the words he chose to share in his last and final letter to her.
An emotional one for sure! 😢
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.
The letter that was attached to the poem:
May 3rd, 1916.
My Dearest Mother,
I have been hoping up to now it would be possible to see you again, but it does not seem possible. Good-bye dear, dear, mother. Through you I say good-bye to Wow Wow, M.B., Willie, Miss Byrne,. Michael, cousin Maggie and everyone at St. Enda’s. I hope and believe Willie and the St. Enda boys will be all safe.
I have written two papers about financial affairs and one about my books which I want you to get. With them are a few poems which I want added to the poems in MS in my bookcase. You asked me to write a little poem which would seem to be said by you about me.
I have written it, and a copy is in Arbour Hill Barracks with other papers and Father Aloysius is taking care of another copy of it.
I have just received Holy Communion. I am happy, except for the great grief of parting from you. This is the death I should have asked for if God had given me the choice of all deaths – to die a soldier’s death for Ireland and for freedom. We have done right. People will say hard things of us now, but later on they will praise us. Do not grieve for all this but think of it as a sacrifice which God has asked of me and of you.
Good-bye again, dear mother. May God bless you for your great love for me and for your great faith, and may He remember all you have so bravely suffered. I hope soon to see papa, and in a little while we shall all be together again. I have not words to tell you of my love for you and how my heart yearns to you all. I will call to you in my heart at the last moment.
Your son Pat.”
Source: Letters of 1916