The remarkably short life of John Keegan Casey was full of lyrical rebellion and inspiring, seditious poetry. His pen was at least as dangerous as the sword, if not more so and it made him a warrior and a target at a remarkably young age. His best known work is “The Rising of the Moon“, which he reportedly penned at the tender age of just fifteen and it is still in heavy rotation to this day.
On this day in 1854, a young baby by the name of Oscar Fingel O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin. Given the length of the name it is no wonder why it was eventually shortened to the simple (and now famous) Oscar Wilde.
On May 3rd, 1916, Grace Gifford walked into a jewelry store in Dublin. Her eyes were red and she had obviously been crying. She bought her own ring and left with it in hand. Grace was on her way to Kilmainham Gaol to marry Joseph Plunkett, the love of her life. She knew that her family didn’t approve and that she’d be a widow just a few hours after the wedding but she chose to marry him anyway. The executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising had begun that same day. Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke, and Thomas MacDonagh were executed for their roles in the Easter Rising and her beloved would soon join them.
On this day in 1939, poet and patriot William Butler Yeats said farewell to the world from the south of France. Yeats spent many of his winters in France and in Italy due to life-long health issues but he always left his heart in Ireland, even after death. He told his wife George to bury him quietly in the hills above Monaco but “to dig me up and plant me in Sligo” a year later when he thought everyone would have forgotten about him. That idea is laughable given that he is still revered and remembered today.
Now I know there’s been a lot of hullabaloo about people re-writing the Irish Proclamation—rightfully, in my opinion—so I’m aware that I could be messing around in holy ground with this one. Still, I was immensely impressed with this new take on Joseph Mary Plunkett’s “I See His Blood Upon the Rose“. Since it is still National Poetry Month here in the United States and I posted the original over on the Facebook page during Easter Week, I thought I’d share this new one here.
Raise a dram or two of your favorite Scotch and throw some pipes on for a few this evening in honor of Mr. Robert Burns. It’s Burns night – and even if you think you don’t know who he is, I guarantee you’ve drunkenly slurred out his poetry on at least one New Year’s Eve in your life. (Here’s a hint: Among many other things, he also wrote Auld Lang Syne)
On Burns Night, the poetry should flow freely, the pipes should play loudly, and there should be at least one Ode to a Haggis. You can blame the Scotch for that. If you can find a Burns Supper where you are, I recommend going at least once.
In lieu of a Burns Supper, get to know some of his poetry. It is one of Scotland’s greatest exports. Here’s another quick verse of another great poem of his that I love to bits:
“Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met — or never parted —
we had ne’er been broken-hearted”
Happy Burns Night!