The Wayfarer, by Padraig Pearse

The Wayfarer

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way

The Wayfarer was written by Pearse in his cell as he awaited execution along with Thomas Clarke and Thomas MacDonagh, on this day in 1916.

Clarke, with a revolutionary career spanning back to the 1870s where his activism brought him into contact with the likes of Robert Johnson and others who had, in their youth, met United Irishmen. The emotional resonances of this connection with a historical tradition in republicanism was likely a significant factor in motivating their political activity. Clarke was imprisoned for 15 years, a period on incarceration that was not experienced again by republicans until the 1930s-1940s. In that regard, analogies between Clarke’s career and later republican activists in the renewed IRA campaigns after 1969, works on a few different levels.

You can read more about those individuals and 1969 elsewhere on this blog.


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