Around me the images of thirty years:
an ambush; pilgrims at the water-side;
casement upon trial, half hidden by the bars,
guarded; Griffith staring in hysterical pride;
kevin O'Higgins' countenance that wears
a gentle questioning look that cannot hide
a soul incapable of remorse or rest;
a revolutionary soldier kneeling to be blessed;
an Abbot or Archbishop with an upraised hand
blessing the Tricolour. "This is not,' I say,
"the dead Ireland of my youth, but an Ireland
the poets have imagined, terrible and gay.'
before a woman's portrait suddenly I stand,
beautiful and gentle in her venetian way.
I met her all but fifty years ago
for twenty minutes in some studio.
Heart-smitten with emotion I sink down,
my heart recovering with covered eyes;
wherever I had looked I had looked upon
my permanent or impermanent images:
Augusta Gregory's son; her sister's son,
Hugh Lane, "onlie begetter' of all these;
Hazel Lavery living and dying, that tale
as though some ballad-singer had sung it all;
Mancini's portrait of Augusta Gregory,
"greatest since Rembrandt,' according to John Synge;
a great ebullient portrait certainly;
but where is the brush that could show anything
of all that pride and that humility?
And I am in despair that time may bring
approved patterns of women or of men
but not that selfsame excellence again.
My mediaeval knees lack health until they bend,
but in that woman, in that household where
honour had lived so long, all lacking found.
Childless I thought, "My children may find here
deep-rooted things,' but never foresaw its end,
and now that end has come I have not wept;
no fox can foul the lair the badger swept