Vigil at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour’s Altar

by Lily O'Brennan

Mountjoy – 1922 (November)

A little altar in the flickering light

Beneath your picture in the quiet night.

Without, the crack of fire from bitter gun

Another life perchance its course has run.

Many a soul within the prison gloom

Keeps watch awake, the morn mayhap his doom.

And in the world outside the fight for right.

I kneel beneath your holy face and see

The Infinite in His sweet infancy.

He turns aside from the dread cross of pain

He must endure, His Kingdom to maintain

I pray you intercede for one dear life

– This brilliant torch amid the crimson strife –

Flashing its rays that Eire safe may see

At last her dream – unfettered liberty

But when my eyes fall on your Infant King

In peace I see the cross dim shadowing

I know, victoriously, he too must die

And tread for Ireland his own Calvary

This poem concerns the execution of Erskine Childers

Source: National Library of Ireland, Ceannt and O’Brennan Papers, 1851-1953. MS 41, 501/ 2/ 6

Cover image: THE WORLD, New York City, November 25, 1922