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Dora Maria Sigerson Shorter: Sixteen Dead Men

 

Sixteen Dead Men

Hark! in the still night. Who goes there?
⁠“Fifteen dead men” Why do they wait?
“Hasten, comrade, death is so fair.”
⁠Now comes their Captain through the dim gate.

Sixteen dead men! What on their sword?
⁠“A nation’s honour proud do they bear.”
What on their bent heads? “God’s holy word;
⁠All of their nation’s heart blended in prayer.”

Sixteen dead men! What makes their shroud?
⁠“All of their nation’s love wraps them around.”
Where do their bodies lie, brave and so proud?
⁠“Under the gallows-tree in prison ground.”

Sixteen dead men! Where do they go?
⁠“To join their regiment, where Sarsfield leads;
Wolfe Tone and Emmet, too, well do they know.
⁠There shall they bivouac, telling great deeds.”

Sixteen dead men! Shall they return?
⁠“Yea, they shall come again, breath of our breath.
They on our nation’s hearth made old fires burn.
⁠Guard her unconquered soul, strong in their death.”

Dora Maria Sigerson Shorter
(1866 – 1918)
Sixteen Dead Men
From The Tricolour: Poems of the Irish Revolution (1922)

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