The Simple Violence of the Gun

by Donagh MacDonagh

The simple violence of the gun

Solved problems of ‘21,

But ’22 demanded thought

Years of action had not bought.


The blindfolded figure with the scales

Turned her back and filled the gaols;

Right and wrong had equal weight,

Poised above Dublin Castle gate.


Some sold for the immediate good

Imperious dictates of the blood;

Others could not forget an oath

The scales hung equally for both.


The Four Courts taken, shelled and burned,

Proved what diplomats have learned,

That the divided race is ruled

By those whom centuries have schooled.


Seen from a pinnacle of time

All that violence is but mime,

The issue simple – liberty

Or a prolonged dependency –


An issue simple as the choice

Between the grim, deterrent voice

And that which urged man to be free,

Un-fruiting the forbidden tree.

Ernie O’Malley Collection, NYU

Reproduced in  Moylan, Terry, The Indignant Muse: Poetry and Songs of the Irish Revolution 1887-1926. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 2016.p.637