New Year, 1923

by Joseph Campbell

Lying awake at midnight in the prison,
I heard a sudden crash of chiming bells,
Bronze bass and silver tenor, tone on tone.
– ‘The church,’ thought I, ‘rings in another year.’
Then through the jangled bells the wail of horns
(Ship’s siren blowing from the river walls)
Smote, like a trumpet blast in sea-born ‘Tristan’.
– ‘Commerce,’ thought I, ‘rings in another year.’
And, as if stricken with the night’s wild fever,
The prison shook in peals of Fenian cheers;
Mugs rattled, chambers clanked, old songs were sung.
– ‘The Law’, thought I, ‘rings in another year.’
Ear-surfeited, I turned to sleep; but sleep
Fled fearfully before a Thompson gun
Making new music at the prison gate.
– ‘War,’ pondered I, ‘rings in another year!’

Poems of Joseph Campbell. Ed Austin Clarke. Dublin: Allen Figgis, 1963.