Brian from the crags and trees of Banba
Came to the throne of his long-dead fathers
After years of struggle with the Northmen,
Defeating ringed armor and sharp helms
With uncertain, steady force of valor,
Was at last defeated by hunger, hollow
Of belly and unsteady of hand
Though his mind burned with freedom like a fever.
Burned the dream of freedom, the vision
Of days long past, when the land was ruled
By men who rose as the sun rose and set as
The moon falls among rushes. These shadows
Are as firm as courage, as strong as the will.
No matter that pain and death follow this,
that the flesh can not endure what the mind
demands day upon day, year upon dreary year.
The River Shannon flows with dark water
to the sea, runs with rippled stirrings among
the pools of mirror-still motion, reflecting
the sky darkly, as if day were night. Pale
musings of the shadow of thought, of the
stirrings of desire, wait. Men, too, sleep
until the dawn rises and the sun appears.
Many years and many men will die at the hands
of conquerors, killed in battle or hanged
in their garden trees, left to rot like fish
on the shore until dry, dead eyes stare aimlessly.
But the dream never slackens, the hope never wanders,
for the old ones are with us, their shadows remember
the summer with green hills and free winds,
for the time of the future and the time of the past are one.
Copyright 2004 by David King.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.