Thomas Kettle

(1880-1916 / Ireland)

Parnell - Poem by Thomas Kettle

Tears will betray all pride, but when ye mourn him,
Be it in soldier wise;
As for a captain who hath greatly borne him,
And in the midnight dies.

Fewness of words is best; he was too great
For ours or any phrase.
Love could not guess, nor the slipped hound of hate
Track his soul’s secret ways.

Signed with a sign, unbroken, unrevealed,
His Calvary he trod;
So let him keep, where all world-wounds are healed
The silences of God.

Yet is he Ireland’s, too: a flaming coal
Lit at the stars, and sent
To burn the sin of patience from her soul
The scandal of content.

A name to be a trumpet of attack;
And, in the evil stress,
For England’s iron No! to fling her back
A grim, granatic Yes.

He taught us more, this best as it was last:
When comrades go apart
They shall go greatly, cancelling the past,
Slaying the kindlier heart.

Friendship and love, all clean things and unclean,
Shall be as drifted leaves,
Spurned by our Ireland’s feet, that queenliest Queen
Who gives not, but receives.

So freedom comes, and comes no other wise;
He gave—”The Chief” gave well;
Limned in his blood across your clearing skies
Look up and read: Parnell!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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