I had to learn this poem in school when I was around 14, and I fell in love. It's clung to me over the years and I find I say it quietly, internally, when I am confronted with great beauty or an unexpected delight. The tears spring to my eyes, happy tears, sad tears, mixed tears. Elephant's Child posted her beautiful Sunday Selections photographs and "my" poem, of course, came to mind and I thought to share it with her and now to share it with you too, my readers.
The poet, Patrick Pearse, was an Irish hero, teacher, writer, poet, rebel, fighter for Irish freedom, and wrote this poem in Kilmainham Gaol on the eve of his death by British firing squad for taking part in the 1916 Rebellion at the GPO in Dublin. He was 26 years old.
The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way