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Your voice learning to soothe

Your new child

Was the first home-sound

We hear before we could see.

Your young eyes

Gazing on us

Was the first mirror

Where we glimpsed

What to be seen

Could mean.


Your nearness tilled the air,

An umbilical garden for the seeds

Of thought that stirred in our infant hearts.

You nurtured and fostered this space

To root all our quietly gathering intensity

That could grow nowhere else.


Formed from the depths beneath your heart,

You know us from the inside out.

No deeds or seas or others

Could ever erase that.


By John O'Donohue


My gift to you hath been the gift of sorrow,

My one return for your rich gifts to me,

Your gift of life, your gift of love and pity,

Your gift of sanity, your gift of faith

(For who hath had such faith as yours

Since the old time, and what were my poor faith

Without your strong belief to found upon?)

For all these precious things my gift to you

Is sorrow. I have seen

Your dear face line, your face soft to my touch,

Familiar to my hands and to my lips

Since I was little:

I have seen

How you have battled with your tears for me,

And with a proud glad look, although your heart

Was breaking. O Mother (for you know me)

You must have known, when I was silent,

That some strange thing within me kept me dumb,

Some strange deep thing, when I should shout my love?

I have sobbed in secret

For that reserve which yet I could not master.

I would have brought royal gifts, and I have brought you

Sorrow and tears: and yet, it may be

That I have brought you something else besides—

The memory of my deed and of my name

A splendid thing which shall not pass away.

When men speak of me, in praise or in dispraise,

You will not heed, but treasure your own memory

Of your first son.


My Dearest Mother,

I have been hoping up to now it would be possible to see you again, but it does not seem possible. Goodbye, dear mother. Through you I say good-bye to "Wow Wow" (a sister), Mary Brigid, Willie, Miss B. Michael, Cousin Margine and every one at St. Enda's. I hope and believe Willie and St. Enda boys will be all safe. I have written two papers about financial affairs and one about my books which I want you to get. With them are a few poems which I want added to the poems in MS. in my bookcase. You asked me to write a little poem which would seem to be said by you about me. I have written it, and a copy is in Arbor Hill barracks with other papers. I just received Holy Communion. I am happy, except for the great grief of parting from you. This is the death I should have asked if God had given me the choice of all deaths—to die a soldier's death for Ireland and for freedom. We have done right. People will say hard things of us now, but later on will praise us. Do not grieve for all this, but think of it as a sacrifice which God asked of me and of you. Good-bye again, dear mother. May God bless you for your great love for me and for your great faith, and may He remember all you have so bravely suffered. I hope soon to see papa, and in a little while we shall be all together again. I have not words to tell you of my love for you and how my heart yearns to you all. I will call to you in my heart at the last moment.

Your son, Pat.

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