This is a humble tribute to a kindred spirit, poet, musician, soldier and far, far braver man than I could ever hope to be. While adhering to the ancient Gaelic ‘Brehon Law of Fasting,’ Bobby took no food or water for sixty-six days in pursuit of his quest for freedom, equality, honor and justice for all.
He took his last breath on May 5th 1981. He was just 27 years old.
The writer, when the compulsion to write gnaws at his very marrow, and invades his senses with that unforgiving, ruthless relentlessness, will write. Nothing or no-one will deter him. He will retreat and seek solitude in the forest shadows or he will climb the summit of the nearest crag or he will huddle, cold and wet, in a stone hut on the bleak moor. No matter what his immediate surroundings be, he will write. He must write. He can’t not write. Even confinement in a prison cell, wrapped in nothing but a blanket, will not stop him. He will write on anything available to him; walls, slate, clay tablets, animal skin, and the palm of his own hand. Bobby Sands used cigarette papers as his parchment, then smuggled them out of prison for the world to read.
A cold stone slab bruised hungry bones
as he lay on the floor all alone.
His life ebbed nigh, but his spirit held high
for soon he would feast with his own.
The visions he saw, the hope that he felt
would never be taken by force.
His will was complete, his heart one last beat
now the way He would lead to the source.
Asked, “Why, Oh Why did you have to die
on this accursed foreigner’s floor?”
Answered, “It has to be Me, so it will not be you,
now I’ll go and throw open the door.”
A piper’s lament was heard in wide space
as the warrior was laid in his grave.
The lark soared high in a sorrowful sky
when Bobby left us and joined with the brave.
From "Don't Die With Regrets: Ireland and the Lessons my Father Taught Me."
Available at: https://www.amazon.com/author/johnabrennan