Padraic Colum

(8 December 1881 – 11 January 1972 / County Longford)

Odysseus: In Memory Of Arthur Griffith - Poem by Padraic Colum

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You had the prose of logic and of scorn,
And words to sledge an iron argument,
And yet you could draw down the outland birds
To perch beside the ravens of your thought
The dreams whereby a people challenges
Its dooms, its bounds. You were the one who knew
What sacred resistance is in men
That are almost broken; how, from resistance used,
A strength is born, a stormy, bright-eyed strength
Like Homer's Iris, messenger of the gods,
Coming before the ships the enemy
Has flung the fire upon. Our own, our native strength
You mustered up. But I will never say this,
Walking beside you, or looking on you,
With your strong brow, and chin was like a targe,
And eyes that were so kindly of us all.

And sorrow comes as on that August day,
With our ship cleaving through the seas for home,
And that news coming sparkling through the air,
That you were dead, and that we'd never see you
Looking upon the state that you had builded.

The news that came was like that weight of waters
Poured on our hopes! Our navies yet unbuilded,
Our city left inglorious on its site,
Our fields uncleared, and over
Our ancient house the ancient curse of war!
And could we pray, touching the island-homeland,
Other than this: 'Odysseus, you who laboured
So long upon the barren outer sea;

Odysseus, Odysseus, you who made
The plan that drove the wasters from the house,
And bent the bow that none could bend but you:
Be with us still:
Your memory be the watcher in our house,
Your memory be the flame upon our hills.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010



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