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Thomas Michael Kettle (b. ?? 1880 - d. Sept. 9, 1916)

...born Co. Dublin; he was a nationalist, economist and poet. He was the first president of the Young Ireland Branch of United Irish League (Home Rule), associated with W. P. Ryan in the attempt to bring ‘a fresh greenness to the trunk of obstructionism’. He was elected Nationalist MP for East Tyrone, 25th Aug. 1906, increasing his majority in the second election, 1910. He joined the board of the Theatre of Ireland with Edward Martyn, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and others.
He resigned from Parliament, 1910, for whole-time professorship, ‘to formulate an economic idea fitted to express the self-realisation of a nation which is resolute to realise itself’. He established and chaired the Peace Committee during the Lock-Out Strike of 1913, with Joseph Plunkett and Tom Dillon as co-secretaries.
Co-founding the Irish Volunteers in 1913, he purchased guns for Volunteers in Belgium. In explaining the seeming contradiction between his nationalism and serving in the British army, he said that England ‘could not fight for liberty in Europe and Junkerdom in Ireland’. He was a war correspondent for the Daily News then joined the Dublin Fusiliers in 1914 (‘Army of Freedom’). Returning from the front in 1914 he toured Ireland and made 200 recruiting speeches appearing in uniform at an anti-recruitment meeting in Dublin he was booed by the audience (as Yeats noted). Shortly after he requested to be sent to the front; feeling his usefulness as a recruiter was over. He died with conspicuous gallantry in the attack on Ginchy at the battle of the Somme.
A memorial bust by Francis W. Doyle-Jones (d.1938) in St. Stephen’s Green bears the last lines from To My Daughter Betty..:
‘Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,
But for a dream born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret scripture of the poor.’

Tom Kettle wrote a poem neglected in the anthologies and ignored by his biographer J. B. Lyons. It was called Reason in Rhyme, composed in answer to an English plea to forget the past. According to Tom Kettle's friend, Robert Lynd, writing on hearing of Kettle's death at Ginchy on the Somme in 1916, the poem represents Kettle's testament to England, and expressed his mood to the last.
Source: Wikipedia

Reason in Rhyme
by Thomas Michael Kettle

"Bond from the toil of bate we may not cease:
Free we are to be your friend.
And when you make your banquet, and we come,
soldier with equal soldier must we sit
Closing a battle, not forgetting it.
With not a name to hide
This mate and mother of valiant "rebels" dead
Must come with all her history on her head.
We keep the past for pride:
No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb
No rawest squad of all Death’s volunteers
No rudest man who died
To tear your flag down in the bitter years
But shall have praise and three times thrice again
When at that table men shall drink with men’.

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God
by Thomas Michael Kettle
dated ‘In the field, before Guillemont, Somme, Sept. 4, 1916’.

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother's prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You'll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they'll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

For more Poetry Click the Poetry Index.


Thu, Jul 9, 2015
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Pádraic Pearse, who played a prominent part in the 1916 rebellion, declared Ireland a Republic from the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin. He was executed, along with the other leaders, for his part in the Rising. But he was a gentle warrior at heart. These five stories show us that Pearse was a man of deep understanding with immense human awareness of the way of life of the average person. He analyses the sorrows and joys of the Irish people of his time, and writes of the tragedies of life and death from which they could never escape.
Review from Mercier Press
Click for Stories of P. Pearse.

Field Work
Seamus Heaney

After Bridget finished her recent article about After the Harvest (Putting out the Hare...) we were prompted to look for other references to Harvest Knots. We weren't too surprised to find a poem by Seamus Heaney from his book Field Work.

1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Amazon states this is out of stock. They still have used copies for almost nothing (except shipping - chuckle). If you would like a new edition, it was available at Powell's. We can't promise it's still there. Click here for Powell's 1000 Years.
Click here for used at Amazon.


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