The Rebel

Pádraic Pearse

I am come of the seed of the people
The people that sorrow
That have no treasure but hope
No riches laid up
But a memory of an Ancient glory
My mother bore me in bondage
In bondage me mother was born
I’m of the blood of serfs
The children with whom I have played
The men and women with whom I have eaten
Have had masters over them
Have been under the lash of masters
And, though gentle, have served churls
The hands that have touched mine
The dear hands, whose touch is familiar to me
Have worn shameful manacles
Have been bitten at the wrist by manacles
Have grown hard with manacles
And the task-work of strangers
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly
I am bone of their bone
I, that have never submitted
I, that have a soul
Greater than the souls of my people’s masters
I, that have vision and prophecy
And the gift of fiery speech
I, that have spoken with God
On the top of his holy hill

And because I am of the people
I understand the people
I am sorrowful with their sorrow
I am hungry with their desire
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children
I have yearned with old wistful men
And laughed or cursed with young men
Their shame is my shame
And I’ve reddened for it
Reddened for that they have served
They who should be free
Reddened for that they have gone in want
While others have been full
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers
And of their jailers
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs
Men mean and cruel
I could have borne stripes on my body
Rather than this shame of my 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 people
For whom he died naked, suffering shame
And I say to my people’s masters: “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

This poem was written by one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, Pádraic Pearse. He was the first president of the provisional government of the Irish Republic proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916.