Patrick Pearse: Quotations


‘Colmcille suggested what that inspiration was when he said, “if I die, it shall be from the excess of love that I bear the Gael.” A love and a service so excessive that one must give all, must be willing always to make the ultimate sacrifice - this is the inspiration alike of the story of Cuchulainn and the story of Colmcille, the inspiration that made one a hero and the other a saint.’ (Political Writings and Speeches, 1922, p.38.)
 
‘Here be ghosts that I have raised this Christmastide, ghosts of dead men that have bequeathed a trust to us living men. Ghosts are troublesome things, in a house or in a family, as we knew even before Ibsen taught us. There is only one way to appease a ghost. You must do the thing it asks you. The ghosts of a nation sometimes ask very big things and they must be appeased whatever the cost.’ ([Speech,] Christmas Day 1915)
 
‘Nationhood declaring and establishing and defending itself by the good smithy sword [...] I assert the forgotten truth, and ask all who accept it to testify to it with our blood.’ (Collected Works: Political Writings and Speeches, 1924 Edn., pp.371-72.)
 
‘Not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well’ (O’Donovan Rossa Graveside Oration, printed in P. H. Pearse, Collected Works, Political Writings and Speeches, p.135 [see infra.]
 

Pearse called University College, Dublin, “an intellectual headquarters for the Gael.” (See Conor Brady, ‘Side by Side into the Light’, in UCD News - An Irish Times Special Report, 21 June 2005, p.2 - in Ricorso Library, Reviews - via index or attached.)

 
‘Oh King that was born / To set bondsmen free / In the coming battle / Help the Gael’ (Collected Works: Plays, Stories, Poems, 1924, p.340.)
 
‘I see my role in part as sacrifice for what my mother’s people have suffered, atonement for what my father’s people have done.’ (Selected Poems: Rogha Dánta, ed. Eugene McCabe, Dublin: New Island Press, 1993, p.9; cited in Callum Boyle, Essay, MA Diss., UU 2004.)
 
Dock speech, May 1916: ‘We seem to have lost; We have not lost. To refuse to fight would have been to lose; to fight is to win. We have kept faith with the past, and handed on a tradition to the future.’ (Quoted in Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce [1962], Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972, p.121.)

The Murder Machine (1912): ‘If one may regard Ireland as a nation in penal servitude, the schools and colleges and universities may be looked upon as the symbol of her penal servitude.’ ‘And is it not the precise aim of education to “foster”? Not to inform, to indoctrinate, to conduct through a course of studies [...] but, first and last to “foster” the elements of character native to a soul, to help to bring these to their full perfection rather than to implant exotic excellences.’ (Political Writings and Speeches, Talbot Press [n.d.], pp.21, 22; both quoted in Joseph Lynch, MA Dip, UU 2003.)

Further: ‘A French writer has paid the English a very well-deserved compliment. He says that they never commit a useless crime. When they hire a man to assassinate an Irish patriot, when they blow a Sepoy from the mouth of a cannon, when they produce a famine in one of their dependencies, they have always an ulterior motive. They do not do it for fun. Humorous as these crimes are, it is not the humour of them, but their utility, that appeals to the English. Unlike Gilbert's Mikado, they would see nothing humorous in boiling oil. If they retained boiling oil in their penal code, they would retain it, as they retain flogging before execution in Egypt, strictly because it has been found useful." ("The Murder Machine’, Pádraic H. Pearse; posted on Facebook by Neil Patrick Doherty, 26.10.2020.)

The Coming Revolution’ (Nov. 1913): ‘A thing that stands demonstrable is that nationhood is not achieved otherwise than in arms […]. The vital work to be done in the new Ireland will not be done so much by the Gaelic League itself as by men and movement that have sprung from the Gaelic League or have received from the Gaelic League a new baptism and a new life and grace. We must accustom ourselves to the thought of arms, to the use of arms. We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people, but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing, and a nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. There are many things more horrible than bloodshed; and slavery is one of them.’ (Quoted largely in Peter Costello, op. cit. 1977, p.76; also in part in Patricia Bourden, The Modern World in Evidence, Dublin: Folens 1986, p.47; also in Joseph Lee, Ireland 1912-1985, Cambridge 1989, p.27, and Vivian Mercier, ‘Irish Literary Revival’, in W. E. Vaughan, ed., A New History of Ireland: Ireland under the Union II, 1870-1921, Vol. VI, Clarendon Press 1996 [Chap. XIII], p.377, with ref. to Pearse, Plays, Stories, Poems, Dublin 1924, p.44.)

On the Ulster gun-running: ‘One great source of misunderstanding has now disappeared; it has become clear within the last few years that the Orangeman is no more loyal to England than we are. He wants the Union because he imagines it secures his prosperity, but he is ready to fire on the Union flag the moment it threatens his prosperity.... The case might be put thus: Hitherto England has governed Ireland through the Orange Lodges - she now proposes to govern Ireland through the Ancient Order of Hibernians. You object: so do we. Why not unite and get rid of the English? They are the real difficulty; their presence here the real incongruity.’ (In Irish Freedom - presum. 1913; quoted in D. D. Sheehan, Ireland Since Parnell (1921), with the remark: ‘summed up the situation rather neatly [...].’ (See full-text version of Sheehan’s book > these remarks - as attached.)

The Gael: ‘The Gael is not like other men; the spade, and the loom, and the sword are not for him. But a destiny more glorious than that of Rome, more glorious than that of Britain awaits him, to become the saviour of idealism in modern intellectual and social life, the regenerator and rejuvenator of the literature of the world, the instructor of nations, the preacher of the gospel of nature-worship, God-worship - such, Mr. Chairman, is the destiny of the Gael.’ (Address before to Literary and Historical Society [L&H], Univ. College, Dublin [UCD], in Desmond Ryan, ed., Collected Works, Political Writings and Speeches, Dublin 1924, p. 221; quoted in George Watson, Irish Identity and the Literary Revival, London: Croom Helm 1979, p.98.)

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Gaelic literature: ‘The rediscovery of this buried [Irish] literature [...] will make it necessary for us to re-write literary history. And it will mean not only a re-writing of literary history, but a general readjustment of literary values, a general raising of literary standards. the world has had a richer dream of beauty than we had dreamed it had. Men here saw certain gracious things more clearly and felt certain music more acutely and heard certain deep music more perfectly than did men in ancient Greece. And it is from Greece that we have received our standards. / How curiously might one speculate if one were to imagine that when the delvers of the fifteenth century unearthed the buried literatures of Greece and Rome they had stumbled instead upon that other buried literature which was to remain in the dust of the libraries for four centuries longer! Then instead of the classical revival we should have had the Celtic revival; or rather the Celtic would have become the classic and the Gael would have given laws to Europe. I do not say positively that literature would have gained, but I am not sure that it would have lost. Something would have been lost: the Greek ideal of perfection in form, the wise calm Greek scrutiny. Yet something it would have gained: a more piercing vision, a nobler, because a more humane, inspiration, above all a deeper spirituality. One other result would have followed: the goodly culture and the fine mysticism of the Middle Ages would not have so utterly been lost [.../] Now I claim for Irish literature, at its best, these excellences: a clear than Greek vision, a more generous than Greek humanity, a deeper than Greek spirituality. And I claim that Irish literature has never lost these excellences: that they are of the essence of Irish nature and are characteristic of modern Irish poetry even as they are of ancient Irish epic and of medieval Irish hymns.’ (“Some Aspects of Irish Literature”, in Collected Works: Songs of Irish Rebels, Dublin, Cork, Belfast 1916, pp.132-33; quoted in The Celtic Consciousness, ed. Robert O’Driscoll [Symposium at Toronto, 1978] Dublin: Dolmen Press; Edinburgh: Canongate Publ. 1982, xviii-xix; also in O’Driscoll, ‘Foundations of the Literary and Musical Revival’, Talamh an Eisc: Canadian and Irish Essays, ed. Cyril J. Byrne & Margaret Harry, Halifax Canada: Nimbus Publ. Co. 1986, pp.48-70, p.51-52.)

Táin Bó Cuailgne: ‘The story Cuchulainn I take to be the finest epic stuff in the world. [...] the story itself is greater than any Greek story [...] the theme is as great as Milton’s Paradise Lost: Milton’s theme is a fall, but the Irish theme is a redemption. For the story of Cuchullainn symbolizes the redemption of man by a sinless God [...] it is like a retelling (or is it a foretelling?) of the story of Calvary.‘ (Collected Writings, 1917 & Edns., p.156; quoted in Fr. Francis Shaw, SJ, ‘The Canon of Irish History - A Challenge’, in Studies: An Irish Qaurterly Review, Summer 1972, p.124.)

Yeats & Co. (1): [Pearse asperses] ‘“Irish” nationalist politicians who in heart and soul are as un-Irish as Professor Mahaffy; we have a “national” literary society which is anti-national without being so out-spoken as Trinity College. [...] the heresy that there can be an Ireland, that there can be an Irish literature, and Irish social life whilst the language of Ireland is English. [...] And lo! just as the country is beginning to see through the newspapers and the literary societies, here we have the Anglo-Irish heresy springing up in new form, the Irish Literary Theatre. Save the mark! [...] literature written in English cannot be Irish. Is Timon of Athens Greek literature? Is Romeo and Juliet Italian literature? [...] When Greece, Italy [...] claim these works as their respective properties, then may Ireland claim The Countess Cathleen and The Heather Field as her own. The Irish Literary Theatre is, in my opinion, more dangerous, more glaringly anti-national, than Trinity College [... and will] give the Gaelic League more trouble than the Atkinson-Mahaffy combination. Let us strangle it at its birth. Against Mr. Yeats we personally we have nothing to object. He is a mere English poet of the third or fourth rank, and as such he is harmless. But when he attempts to run an “Irish Literary Theatre” it is time for him to be crushed.’ (Letter to Editor of An Claidheamh Soluis, 13 May 1899, rep. in Seamus Ó Buachalla, ed., Pearse’s Letters, 1980; quoted in Declan Kiberd, ‘Writers in Quarantine?: The Case for Irish Studies’, in Crane Bag, 3, 1, 1979, pp.9-21; rep. in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, Dublin: Blackwater Press 1982, pp.341-53; p.341 [epigraph], and also in Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.602 [viz., ‘The Irish Literary Theatre .... &c.’], and Richard Kearney, Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy (London: Routledge 1997, p.114).

See further remarks in Seamus Ó Buachalla, ed., Pearse’s Letters (1980): ‘The association of such orthodox figures as O’Leary and Douglas Hyde with the Dublin [Irish Literary] Society did not diminish Pearse’s mistrust [of Yeats and the Literary Revival]; subsequent letters indicate that the twenty-year old student substantially modified his views on this question.’ (Ó Buachalla, op. cit., pp.8-9.) Ó Buachalla comments that Pearse was ‘concerned with the propriety of categorising literature written in English as Irish literature.’

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Yeats & Co. (2) - see Fintan O’Toole’s remark: ‘Yeats famously asked “Did that pay of mine send out / Certain men the English shot?” [...] Modern Irish history has indeed been influenced both by the images of Ireland invented by poets and playwrights and by the failure of reality to live up to those ages. Cathleen Ni Houlihan may not have sent Patrick Pearse into the GPO in 1916. Pearse himself wrote plays and imagined the Rising as a dramatic ritual, part religious sacrifice, part street theatre. And in the year of the Rising he wrote, as Nicholas Grene reminds us, that if he had seen Cathleen Ni Houlihan as a boy, he “should have taken it not as an allegory but as a representation of a thing that might happen any day my house”. The line between Irish theatre and Irish history is not so clear after all.’ [See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Review”, infra.]

Irish mysticism: ‘I have known old people who lived in familiar converse with the unseen; who knew as it were by sight and by the sound of their voices Christ and Mary and many familiar saints. Now that intimacy with spiritual things is very characteristic of Irish literature. One finds it in the mystical hymns of the Middle Ages; one finds it in the folk-tales of the Western countrysides; one finds it in the many exquisite folk-songs [...] Irish mysticism, the mysticism which recognises no real dividing line between the seen and the unseen, and to which the imagined experience is often more vivid than the real experience. A people so gifted must bring in their turn a very precious gift to literature; for is it not the function of literature by making known the real and the imagined experiences of souls to reveal to common men all the hidden splendours of the world and to make vocal its silent music?’ (“Some Aspects of Irish Literature”, Collected Works, 1924 [q.vol.], p.157-58; quoted in Una Kealy, diss. on George Fitzmaurice, UUC [in prep. 2002].)

Irish language: ‘There is here an opposition of two things which are on totally different planes - nationality and political autonomy. The Irish language is an essential of Irish nationality. It is more, it is its chief depository and safeguard. When the Irish language disappears, Irish nationality will ipso facto disappear, and for ever. Political autonomy, on the other hand, can be lost and recovered, and lost again and recovered again. [...] Now, if Ireland were to lose her language - which is, remember, an essential of her nationality - there might concievably me a free state in Ireland at some future date; but that state would not be the Irish nation, for it would have parted from the body of traditions which constitute Irish nationality. The people which would give up its language in exchange for political autonomy would be like the prisoner who would sell his soul to the Evil One that he might be freed from his bodily chains.’ (In An Claideamh Soluis; quoted by Frederick Ryan, in ‘On Language and Political Ideals’, in Dana [late 1904], rep. in Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, gen. ed. Seamus Deane, Derry 1991, p.1000.).

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About Literature’, in An Claidheamh Soluis (26 May 1906): ‘We hold that folktale to be a beautiful and a gracious thing only in its own time and place - and its time and place are the winter fireside, or the spring sowing-time, or the summer hay-making, or the autumn harvesting, or the country road at any season. Thus, we lay down the proposition that a living modern literature cannot (and if it could, should not) be built on the folk-tale. The folk-tale is an echo of old mythologies, an unconscious stringing together of old memories and fancies: literature is a deliberate criticism of life [...] Irish literature, if it is to live and grow, must get into contact on the one hand with its own past and on the other hand with the mind of contemporary Europe. This is the twentieth century; and no literature can take root in the twentieth century which is not of the twentieth century. We want no Gothic Revival.’ (p.6-7; quoted [in part] in Declan Kiberd, ‘Story-Telling: The Gaelic Tradition’, in The Irish Short Story, ed. Terence Brown & Patrick Rafroidi, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979, p.18; also in Cathal Ó Hainle, ‘“The Inalienable Right of Trifles”: Tradition and Modernity in Gaelic Writing Since the Revival’, in Eire-Ireland (Winter 1984, p.63; cited in Emer Campbell, UU Diss., UUC 2001; also [in part in quoted by Fionntán de Brun, in ‘Temporality and Revivalism’ [UU Research Series, April 2011].)

Anglo-Irish: ‘If we once admit the Irish-literature-in-English idea, then the language movement is a mistake … Against Mr. Yeats personally [.. &c.]’ (quoted in Richard Kearney, Myth and Motherland [Field Day pamphlets, No. 5], Derry: Field Day Co. 1984, p.15).

Galling words: ‘One man can free a people as one Man redeemed the world. I will take no pike. I will go into battle with bare hands. I will stand up before the Gall [i.e., English foreigner] as Christ hung naked before men on the tree.’ (Collected Works, 1924 [q.p.], quoted in Patrick Sheeran, The Novels of Liam O’Flaherty, 1976, p.249.)

Irish Education (1; on the Palles Commission): ‘Surely it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole thing from top to bottom, is at once a colossal blunder and a colossal crime?’ (Feb. 1900 & seq.; Letters, ed., Ó Buachalla, p.9); ‘Yes, the [Palles] Commissioners do make a provision; they actually concede that, where a child fails to grasp the meaning of a lesson, the master - if he happens to be able - may explain the subject-matter in Irish.’ He goes on to characterise the result of the Anglicised system advocated for the West of Ireland as either ‘absolute illiteracy’. (p.13.) Further: ‘that worst of human monstrosities - the being who has a smattering of two languages, but knows neither sufficiently well to be able to adequately express himself in it.’ (p.14).

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Irish Education (2): ‘Take up the Irish problem at what point you may, you inevitably find yourself in the end back at the educational question. The prostitution of education in this land has led to many other prostitutions. Poisoned at its source, the whole stream of national life has stagnated and grown foul.’ (An Claidheamh Soluis, Apr. 1903; rep. in Seamus Ó Buachalla, A Significant Irish Educationalist, Mercier 1980, p.4; quoted in Dermot Moran, ‘Nationalism, Religion and the Education Question’, The Crane Bag, Vol. 7, No. 2 1983, p.77.)

Irish Education (3): ‘The new education system in Ireland has to do more than restore a national culture [...] Along with its inspiration it must therefore bring a certain hardening. I would bring back some of the starkness of the antique world. No dream is more foolish than the dream of some sentimentalists that the reign of force is past, or passing; that the world’s ancient battle laws have been repealed; that henceforth the first duty of the very man is to be dapper.’ (Ó Buachalla, op. cit., p.355; quoted in Moran, op. cit., p.82.)

High & sorrowful: ‘Such is the high and sorrowful destiny of the heroes to turn their backs to the pleasant paths and their faces to the hard paths, to blind their eyes to the fair things of life [...] and to follow only the far faint call that leads them into the battle or to the harder death at the foot of the gibbet.’ (Quoted by Katie Donovan, in ‘The Dying Hero and the Goddess’, in Letters from the New Island: 16 on 16, Raven Arts Press 1988, pp.45-57, p.47.

Fianna nua: ‘We must recreate and perpetuate in Ireland the knightly tradition of Cuchulain, the noble tradition of the Fianna, - “We, the Fianna, never told a lie, falsehood was never imputed to us”. “Strength in our hands, truth on our lips, cleanness in our hearts” - the Christ-like tradition of Columcille [...] “if I should die it shall be from the excess of love I bear the Gael”. (Collected Works, 191, p.38; cited in Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: The Irish Revolution in Literature from Parnell to the Death of W. B. Yeats, 1891-1939, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1977, p.77.)

Allegiance: ‘The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights an equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided the minority from the majority in the past.’ (From 1916 Proclamation.)

Language & nation: ‘The spiritual thing which is the essential thing in nationality would seem to reside chiefly in language (if by language we understand literature and folklore as well as sounds and idioms) and to be preserved chiefly by language; but it reveals itself in all the arts, all the institutions, all the inner life, all the actions and goings forth of the nation.’ (“The Spiritual Nation”; quoted in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, Pluto Press 1998, p.78.)

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J. M. Synge: ‘Ireland in our day as in the past has excommunicated some of those who have served her best, and has canonised some of those who have served her worst. [...] When a man like Synge, a man in whose sad heart there glowed a true love of Ireland, one of the two or three men who have in our time made Ireland considerable in the eyes of the world, use strange symbols which we do not understand, we cry out that he has blasphemed and we proceed to crucify him. When a sleek lawyer, rising step by step through the most ignoble of all professions, attains to a Lord Chancellorship or an Attorney Generalship, we confer upon him the freedom of our cities. This is really a very terrible symptom in contemporary Ireland.’ (“From a Hermitage”, 1913; quoted in Joseph Lee, The Modernisation of Ireland, 1973; also more extensively in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.168.)

Robert Emmet (‘Robert Emmet and the Ireland of Today’, speeches of 2 & 9 March 1914, at New York): ‘There is again in Ireland the murmur of a marching and talk of guns and tactics’. Further: ‘His task was just such a task as many of us have undertaken: he had to go through the same repellent routine work to deal with the heard, uncongenial details of correspondence and committee meetings; he had the same sordid difficulties that we have, yea, even the vulgar difficulty of want of funds.’ Further: ‘There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, hut there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter, and these are the salt of the generations, the heroes who stand midway between God and men’; ‘This man was faithful even unto the ignominy of the gallows dying that his people [111] might live, even as Christ died.’ (All cited in Jeanne A. Flood, ‘Joyce, Pearse and the Theme of Execution, in Drury, ed., Irish Studies, I, 1980, p.110-112; &c.)

O’Donovan Rossa (graveside oration, 1 Aug. 1915):

Patrick Pearse’ s Graveside Panegyric for O’pDonovan Rossa on 1 August 1915 at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin

It has seemed right, before we turn away from this place in which we have laid the mortal remains of O'Donovan Rossa, that one among us should, in the name of all, speak the praise of that valiant man, and endeavour to formulate the thought and the hope that are in us as we stand around his grave. And if there is anything that makes it fitting that I, rather than some other, rather than one of the grey-haired men who were young with him and shared in his labour and in his suffering, should speak here, it is perhaps that I may be taken as speaking on behalf of a new generation that has been re-baptised in the Fenian faith, and that has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the Fenian programme. I propose to you then that, here by the grave of this unrepentant Fenian, we renew our baptismal vows; that, here by the grave of this unconquered and unconquerable man, we ask of God, each one for himself, such unshakable purpose, such high and gallant courage, such unbreakable strength of soul as belonged to O'Donovan Rossa.

Deliberately here we avow ourselves, as he avowed himself in the dock, Irishmen of one allegiance only. We of the Irish Volunteers, and you others who are associated with us in to-day's task and duty, are bound together and must stand together henceforth in brotherly union for the achievement of the freedom of Ireland. And we know only one definition of freedom: it is Tone's definition, it is Mitchel's definition, it is Rossa's definition. Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name and definition than their name and their definition.

We stand at Rossa's grave not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael. Splendid and holy causes are served by men who are themselves splendid and holy. O'Donovan Rossa was splendid in the proud manhood of him, splendid in the heroic grace of him, splendid in the Gaelic strength and clarity and truth of him. And all that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to Ireland, to all that was olden and beautiful and Gaelic in Ireland, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of a Michael O'Clery or of an Eoghan O'Growney. The clear true eyes of this man almost alone in his day visioned Ireland as we of to-day would surely have her: not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well.

In a closer spiritual communion with him now than ever before or perhaps ever again, in a spiritual communion with those of his day, living and dead, who suffered with him in English prisons, in communion of spirit too with our own dear comrades who suffer in English prisons to-day, and speaking on their behalf as well as our own, we pledge to Ireland our love, and we pledge to English rule in Ireland our hate. This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and with all restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing, as O'Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seeds sown by the young men of '65 and '67 are coming to their miraculous ripening to-day. Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

(Quoted [in part] in Alice Curtayne, The Irish Story: A Survey of Irish History and Culture, Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds 1962, p.140; also [in part] Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal [... &c.], Gill & Macmillan, 1977, p.78.) [See in separate window - as attached.]

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Free Ireland: ‘A free Ireland would not, and could not, have hunger in her fertile vales and squalor in her cities. Ireland has resources to feed five times her population; a free Ireland will make those resources available. A free Ireland would drain the bogs, would harness the rivers, would plant the wastes, would improve the agriculture, would protect the fisheries, would foster industries, would promote commerce, would diminish extravagant expenditure (as on needless judges and policemen), would beautify the cities, would educate the workers (and also the non-workers, who stand in dire need of it), would, in short, govern herself as no external power - nay, not even a government of angels and archangels - could govern her.’ (Political Writings; quoted in J. J. Lee, The Modernisation of Ireland, Cambridge UP 1973, pp.141-48, rep. as ‘Patrick Pearse’ in Máirín Ní Donnchadha & Theo Dorgan, eds., Revising the Rising 1991.)

‘Ireland [...] Not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well’ (O’Donovan Rossa Graveside Oration, printed in P. H. Pearse, Collected Works, Political Writings and Speeches, p.135; quoted in F. S. L. Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine, ‘The Language Question’ [sect. I of Pt. 5, ‘Problems of Social Polity’], p.624; also [in part] in Conor Cruise O’Brien, ‘The Embers of Easter’, an essay of 1966 rep. in Conor: Anthology, ed. Donald Akenson, 1994.)

Free Ireland: ‘In a free Ireland, there will be work for all the men and women of the nation. Gracious and useful rural industries [...] an improved agriculture. The population will expand in a century to twenty million [...]. Town will be spacious and beautiful. (Quoted in Ruth Dudley Edwards, Triumph of Failure, p.338.)

Final settlement: ‘The Man who, in the [matter] of Ireland, accepts as a “final settlement”, anything less by one fraction of an iota than separation from England - is guilty of so immense an infidelity, so immense a crime - that it were better for than man - that he had not been born.’ (Political Writings, 1924, pp.231-32; quoted in J. H. Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland, 1991.)

North began: ‘I am glad then, that the North has begun. I am glad that the Orangemen have armed for it is a goodly thing to see arms in Irish hands. I would like to see the A. O. H. armed. I would like to see the Transport Workers armed. I would like to see any and every body of Irish citizens armed.’ Cf.: ‘I think the Orangeman with a rifle a much less ridiculous figure than the nationalist without a rifle.’ (“From a Hermitage”, Political Writings and Speeches, Dublin 1966, p.185; quoted in Joseph Lee, Ireland 1912-1985,1989, p.18.)

June 1913: ‘This generation of Irishmen will be called upon in the very near future to make a very passionate assertion of nationality. The form in which the assertion shall be made must depend upon many things, more especially upon the passage or non-passage of the present Home Rule Bill’ (Q. source [Lee?]).

Heroism [1916]: ‘The last sixteen months have been the most glorious in the history of Europe. Heroism has come back to the earth. On whichever side the men who rule the peoples have marshalled them, whether with England to uphold her tyranny of the seas, or with Germany to break that tyranny, the people themselves have gone into battle because to each the old voice that speaks of the soil of a nation has spoken anew. It is good for the world that such things should be done. The old heart of the earth needs to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields. Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives gladly given for love of country.’ (Cited in Liam de Paor, ‘The Great War’, in Landscape with Figures, Dublin: Four Court, 1996, p.147; de Paor further notes that James Connolly characterised these words as ‘blithering idiocy’ in The Irish Citizen.)

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National Messiah?: ‘I do not know if the Messiah has yet come, and I am not sure that there will be any visible and personal Messiah in this redemption. The people itself will perhaps be its own Messiah, the people labouring, scourged, crowned with thorns, agonising and dying, to rise again immortal and impassible […]’ (Quoted in William Irwin Thompson, The Imagination of an Insurrection, 1967, pp.120-21; cited in Edna Longley, The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1994, p.72.)

1916 Proclamation (presum. authored by Pearse): ‘In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to the flag and strikes for her freedom [...]’ (See also under Notes, infra.)

Beautiful death: ‘Sometimes rabbits come out and gambol under the trees in the evening; and they are happy, in the foolish way of rabbits, till one of the river rats wants his supper. So day and night there is red murder in the greenwood and in the world. It is murder and death that makes possible the terrible beautiful thing we call physical life. Life springs from death; life lives on death.’ (By Way of Comment, 1910; quoted [in part] in Barbara Brodman, ‘The Cult of Death in Irish (and Mexican) Myth and Literature: From Fatalism to Fire of the Mind’, in That Other World: The Supernatural and Fantastic in Irish Literature, Transactions of PGIL Conference (Monaco), Whitsun 1998 [pub. 2000].)

Dear Mother: ‘We are ready to die and shall die cheerfully and proudly. Personally I do not hope or even desire to live … You must not grieve for all of this. We have preserved ireland’s honour and our own. Our deeds of last week are the most splendid in Ireland’s history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations. You too will be blessed because you were my mother.’ (Quoted in Rebel Hearts: Journeys within the IRA’s Soul, London: Picador 1996, p.340.)

The Mother” [written before execution]: ‘The Mother: I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge/ My two strong sons that I have seen go out/ To break their strength and die, they and a few,/ In bloody protest for a glorious thing,/ They shall be spoken of among their people,/ The generations shall remember them,/ And call them blessed;/ But I will speak their names to my own heart/ In the long nights;/ The little names that were familiar once/ Round my dead hearth./ Lord, thou art hard on mothers:/ We suffer in their coming and their going;/ And tho’ I grudge them not, I weary, weary/ Of the long sorrow - And yet I have my joy:/ My sons were faithful, and they fought.’ (Coll. Works, p.333; quoted in part in Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal [... &c.], 1977, p.79.)

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Poetry

Little lad of the tricks”: ‘Little lad of the tricks, / Full well I know / That you have been in mischief: / Confess your fault truly. // I forgive you, child / Of the soft red mouth: / I will not condemn anyone / For a sin not understood. // Raise your comely head / Till I kiss your mouth: / If either of us is the better of that / I am the better of it. // There is a fragrance in your kiss / That I have not found yet / In the kisses of women / Or in the honey of their bodies // Lad of the grey eyes, / That flush in they cheek / would be white with dread of me / Could you read my secrets. // He who has my secrets / Is not fit to touch you; / Is not that a pitiful thing, / Little lad of the tricks?’ (Quoted in Elaine Sisson, Pearse’s Patriots: St. Enda’s and the Cult of Boyhood, Dublin: Four Court’s Press 2004, pp.142-43 - noting that the last two stanzas are omitted in Ruth Dudley Edwards’s life of Pearse, and that these are the most damning in being ‘startlingly sexual and disturbingly pederastic’.)

This death I shall die: ‘Naked I saw thee, / O beauty of beauties, / And I blinded my eyes / For fear of my failing [... //] I blinded my eyes / And I closed my ears / I have hardened my heart / And smothered my desires [...] / I have turned my face / To this road before me / To this deed that I see / And this death I shall die.’ (Coll. Works: Plays, Stories, Poems, 1917, p.335; cited in Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal, 1977, pp.78-79; see also Irish version in Kiberd, supra).

Fornocht do chonac thú (Naked I saw thee)

Fornocht do chonac thú,
a áille na háille,
is do dhallas mo shúil
ar eagla go stánfainn.

Do chualas do cheol,
a bhinne na binne,
is do dhúnas mo chluas
ar eagla go gclisfinn.

Do bhlaiseas do bhéal
a mhilse na milse,
is do chruas mo chroí
ar eagla mo mhillte.

Do dhallas mo shúil,
is mo chluas do dhúnas;
do chruas mo chroí,
is mo mhian do mhúchas.

Do thugas mo chúl
ar an aisling do chumas,
's ar an ród so romham
m'aighaidh do thugas.

Do thugas mo ghnúis
ar an ród so romham,
ar an ngníomh do-chim,
's ar an mbás do gheobhad.

Naked I saw thee,
O beauty of beauty,
And I blinded my eyes
For fear I should fail.

I heard thy music,
O melody of melody,
And I closed my ears
For fear I should falter.

I tasted thy mouth,
O sweetness of sweetness,
And I hardened my heart
For fear of my slaying.

I blinded my eyes,
And I closed my ears,
I hardened my heart
And I smothered my desire.

I turned my back
On the vision I had shaped,
And to this road before me
I turned my face.

I have turned my face
To this road before me,
To the deed that I see
And the death I shall die.

Translated by the poet; quoted by Neil Patrick Doherty on Facebook - 12-03-2020.

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The Risen People: ‘And now I speak being full of vision; / I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people. / I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains, / That they are greater than those that hold them and stronger and purer, / That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God, / God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples / For whom He died naked, suffering shame. / And I say to my people’s master’s: beware / Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people, / Who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people, / Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free? / We will try it out with you ye that have harried and held, / Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!’ (‘The Rebel’; Works, 1917, p.337; quoted [in part] in Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal, 1977, p.84; also in Eugene McCabe, Introduction, Rogha Dánta: Selected Poems of Patrick Pearse, New Island Books, 1993, Intro., p.11; Collected Works, p.339.)

‘‘O wise men riddle me this, What if the dream come true? / What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell / In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought? / Lord, I have staked my soul, I have staked the lives of my kin / On the truth of they dreadful word. Do not remember my failures / But remember this my faith.’ (Quoted Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal, 1977, p.78; also in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, 1995.)

The Singer [drama]: ‘I shiver when I think of them all going out to fight. They will go out laughing: I see them with their cheeks flushed and their red lips apart. And then they will lie very still on the hillside - so still and white, with no red in their cheeks, but maybe a red wound in their white breasts, or on their white foreheads.’ (Collected Works, ed Desmond Ryan, Phoenix Press [Maunsel] 1917, Vol. 1 [p.109]; quoted in John McGovern, MA Diss UUC 2002; also Collected Works, 1924, p.9, quoted in Joseph Lynch, MA Diss., UU 2003.) Further, Dara: ‘One man can free a people as one man redeemed the world.’ (“The Singer”, in Collected Works, 1924, p.44; quoted in Joseph Lynch, MA Dip., UU 2003.)

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