You Knew A Man Was Surely There

by Nigel Quinlan

The bodies lie along the ditch,
Enfields sheltered from morning rain,
Dripping through the hawthorn hedge,
Engines growling on the bend.

There was a cottage burnt that week,
There was a grand house set alight,
There was a man shot in the back,
There was a landlord’s daughter in borrowed coat.

These were the incidents and many more,
Rearrange them as you will,
Write the poetry of this fight,
Spark the myth in every mouth.

Of the morning ambush at the cross,
Of the high church steeple in the sky,
Of the fathers, cousins, neighbours, friends,
Of the moment of their bloody myth;

Then add the incident to the rest,
Recite the epic to suit the room,
Remember the heroes as they fought,
And their faceless enemies fell in droves.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at the Thomas MacDonagh Museum on 20th and 21st of September, 2023. The workshops were led by poet Thomas McCarthy.

Cover Image: St George (C. of I.), Hardwicke Place : spire (upper stage). Civic and Ecclesiastical Architecture of Georgian Dublin Collection. UCD Digital Library.