‘Blood Upon The Rose’: Poet's Universal Easter Contemplation

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice -- and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.
    -- Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poet and revolutionary Joseph Mary Plunkett was born in 1887, a scion of wealth, in Dublin. He received a Catholic education, with his post-primary education coming at two renowned Jesuit institutions. He contracted tuberculosis as a child and spent much of his childhood in the more temperate climes of the Mediterranean, including Algiers. Plunkett became an ardent supporter of Irish nationalism and the Irish language, as well as drama and poetry. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War 1, and traveled to Germany in a successful bid to gain German support for a planned rising against British rule of Ireland.

Above, Joseph Mary Plunkett circa 1910. Wikimedia Commons

Plunkett was one of the chief architects of the strategy employed in the Easter Rising, which was launched Easter Monday, April 23, 1916. The rising began a day after his planned wedding to Grace Gifford, which was interrupted by events, including surgery a few weeks prior and the swirl of uncertainty that led up to the fateful call to arms on Easter Sunday. After the Rising’s collapse in six days, he was tried and executed for his role by British military authorities on May 4, 1916. Only seven hours previous, he and Gifford were married in the prison chapel.

Writing about “I See His Blood Upon the Rose” in the Irish Independent in 2015, Lucy Collins, a professor of English at University College Dublin, states: “These simple verses testify to the presence of the divine in the world, reading in nature the iconography of the crucifixion. At the centre of the poem lies the conviction that Christ's suffering will never be forgotten, as long as God's word remains the bedrock of existence.”

Of course, one could argue, the ultimate beauty of Plunkett’s work is its invitation for each and every one of us to consider the constancy --  and legacy -- of Christ’s sacrifice.

Related Resources:

Rising Poems: 'I See His Blood Upon the Rose' (By Lucy Collins, Irish Independent, Oct. 29, 1915)

* Great Irish Romances: Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford (By Susan McWilliams Lev-Yadun, TheWildGeese.irish, Feb. 7, 2014)

* Remembering the Easter Rising, TheWildGeese.irish

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Tags: Easter Rising, Faith, Irish Freedom Struggle, Revolution, poetry

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