'The Six Who Were Hanged'

by Thomas MacGreevy

The sky turns limpid green.
The stars go silver white.
They must be stirring in their cells now —

Unspeaking likely!

Waiting for an attack
With death uncertain
One said little.

For these there is no uncertainty.

The sun will come soon,
All gold.

‘Tis you shall have the golden throne

It will come ere its time.
It will not be time,
Oh, it will not be time,
Not for silver and gold,
Not with green,
Till they all have dropped home,
Till gaol bells all have clanged,
Till all six have been hanged.

And after?
Will it be time?

There are two to be hanged at six o’clock,
Two others at seven,
And the others,
The epilogue two,
At eight.
The sun will have risen
And two will be hanging
In green, white and gold,
In a premature Easter.

The white-faced stars are silent,
Silent the pale sky;
Up on his iron car
The small conqueror’s robot
Sits quiet.
But Hail Mary! Hail Mary!
They say it and say it,
These hundreds of lamenting women and girls
Holding Crucified Christs.

Daughters of Jerusalem…

Perhaps women have Easters.

There are very few men.
Why am I here?

At the hour of our death
At this hour of youth’s death,
Hail Mary! Hail Mary!
Now young bodies swing up
Young souls
Slip after the stars.
Hail Mary! Hail Mary!

Alas! I am not their Saint John —

Tired of sorrow,
My sorrow, their sorrow, all sorrow,
I go from the hanged,
From the women,
I go from the hanging;
Scarcely moved by thought of the two to be hanged,
I go from the epilogue.

Morning Star, Pray for us!

What, these seven hundred years,
Has Ireland had to do
With the morning star?

And still, I too say,
Pray for us.

Mountjoy, March, 1921

Reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holders.