Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wishes For a Son

 

Thomas McDonagh was not only an accomplished poet but a playwright also, as well as teacher and lecturer of English Literature at UCD. An unlikely revolutionary and Rising leader to say the least. He was an amicable person by all accounts, perhaps the most personable of all the Rising leaders,  as well as an effective rebellion planner and leader. His poems are lyrical pieces that focus mainly on his family and generally relating to life and love. This poem however, also hints at the reasons why he was partaking in the Rising - for the good of the children of Ireland, the generations to come.

Perhaps it is McDonagh's epitaph that speaks the truest of him. The British soldiers who carried out the executions said that although all the leaders died well, McDonagh died 'like a prince.' 


#1916EasterRisingPoets



'Wishes For My Son, Born On St Cecilia's Day, 1912' - Thomas McDonagh
 
Now, my son, is life for you,
And I wish you joy of it,-
Joy of power in all you do,
Deeper passion, better wit
Than I had who had enough,
Quicker life and length thereof,
More of every gift but love.

Love I have beyond all men,
Love that now you share with me-
What have I to wish you then
But that you be good and free,
And that God to you may give
Grace in stronger days to live?

For I wish you more than I
Ever knew of glorious deed,
Though no rapture passed me by
That an eager heart could heed,
Though I followed heights and sought
Things the sequel never brought.

Wild and perilous holy things
Flaming with a martyr's blood,
And the joy that laughs and sings
Where a foe must be withstood,
Joy of headlong happy chance
Leading on the battle dance.

But I found no enemy,
No man in a world of wrong,
That Christ's word of charity
Did not render clean and strong-
Who was I to judge my kind,
Blindest groper of the blind?

God to you may give the sight
And the clear, undoubting strength
Wars to knit for single right,
Freedom's war to knit at length,
And to win through wrath and strife,
To the sequel of my life.

But for you, so small and young,
Born on Saint Cecilia's Day,
I in more harmonious song
Now for nearer joys should pray-
Simpler joys: the natural growth
Of your childhood and your youth,
Courage, innocence, and truth:

These for you, so small and young,
In your hand and heart and tongue.

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