Thomas MacDonagh

(1 February 1878 - 3 May 1916 / Cloughjordan / Ireland)

Introit : Iv. O Star Of Death -- Mortalem Vitam Mors Cum Immortalis Ademit - Poem by Thomas MacDonagh

The earth in its darkness spinning
Is a sign from the gate of horn
Of the dream that a life's beginning
Is in its end reborn--
Dark symbol of true dreaming,
The truth is beyond thy seeming
As the wide of infinitude
Is beyond the air of the earth!
Death is a change and a birth
For atoms in darkness spinning
And their immortal brood.

The wisdom of life and death
As a star leads to the gate
Which is not of heaven or hell;
And your mortal life is a breath
Of the life of all, and your state
Ends with your hail and farewell.

Wisdom's voice is the voice
Of a child who sings to a star
With a cry of, Hail and rejoice!
And farewell to the things that are,
And hail to the eternal peace,
And rejoice that the day is done,
For the night brings but release
And threatens no wakening sun.
Other suns that set may rise
As before your day they rose,
But when once your brief light dies
No dawn here breaks your repose.

I followed a morning star,
And it led to the gate of light,
And thence came forth to meet our night
A child and sang to the star.
The air of the earth and the night were withdrawn
And the star was the sign of an outworn dawn
That now in the aether was newly bright.
For sudden I saw where the air through space was gone
From the portal of light and the child and the sign o'er the portal--
The star of joy a mortal leading
In the clear stood holy and still,
And under it the child sang on.
I, who had followed of happy will,
Knew the dark of life receding--
One with the child and the star stood a mortal.

The child sang welcomes of the gate of light--
Welcome to the peace of perfect night
Everduring, unbeginning!
Now let the mornings of the earth bring grief
To other souls a while in darkness spinning,
To other souls that look for borrowed light,
Desiring alien joys with vain belief.
Welcome and hail to this beyond all good,
Joy of creation's new infinitude,

That never will the spirit use
Another time for life, and yet
That never will the spirit lose,
Although it pass, but takes its debt
To life and time, and sends endued
With gain of life each atom soul
New-fashioned to fulfil the whole.

O star of death! O sign that still hast shone
Out beyond the dark of the air!
Thou stand'st unseen by yearning eyes
Of mourneres tired with their vain prayer
For the little life that dies,--
Whether holding that it dies
That all life may still live on
In its death as in its birth,
Or believing things of earth
Destined ever to arise
To a new life in the skies.
Blinded with false fear, how man
Dreads this death which ends one span
That another may begin!--
Holding greatest truth a sin
And a sorrow, as not knowing
That when death has lost false hope
And false fear, begins the scope
Of true life, which is a going
At its end and not a coming,
That the heart shrinks from the numbing
Fall of death, but does not grope
Blindly to new joy or gloom--
Shrinks in vain, then yields in peace
To the pain that brings release
And the quiet of the tomb.

O star of death! I follow, till thou take
My days to cast them from these flake on flake,
My rose of life to scatter bloom on bloom,
Yet hold its essence in the phial rare
Of life that lives with fire and air,--
With air that knows no dark, with fire not to consume.

I followed a morning star
And I stand by the gate of Light,
And a child sings my farewell to-night
To the atom things that are.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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