No spot of earth where men have so fiercely for ages of time
Fought and survived and cancelled each other,
Pict and Gael and Dane, McQuillan, Clandonnel, O'Neill,
Savages, the Scot, the Norman, the English,
Here in the narrow passage and the pitiless north, perpetual
Betrayals, relentless resultless fighting.
A random fury of dirks in the dark: a struggle for survival
Of hungry blind cells of life in the womb.
But now the womb has grown old, her strength has gone forth;
a few red carts in a fog creak flax to the dubs,
And sheep in the high heather cry hungrily that life is hard; a
plaintive peace; shepherds and peasants.
We have felt the blades meet in the flesh in a hundred ambushes
And the groaning blood bubble in the throat;
In a hundred battles the heavy axes bite the deep bone,
The mountain suddenly stagger and be darkened.
Generation on generation we have seen the blood of boys
And heard the moaning of women massacred,
The passionate flesh and nerves have flamed like pitch-pine and
And lain in the earth softly dissolving.
I have lain and been humbled in all these graves, and mixed new
flesh with the old and filled the hollow of my mouth
With maggots and rotten dust and ages of repose. I lie here and
plot the agony of resurrection.
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