Poems, — July 11, 2011 11:24 — 0 Comments

Stars Sang in God’s Garden

Many today listen to the song “Grace” without a thought for Joseph Mary Plunkett, the 1916 Easter Rising leader and martyr, yet he is the hero of that dirgeful ballad (though not, of course, its author).  It is still sung at almost every Irish wedding and weekly in Singing Lounges throughout the length and breadth of the country.  Even as I type, the tune runs through my head.  

“Grace” Gifford, a beautiful Dublin socialite, married Joseph Plunkett in his prison cell, just hours before his execution. 
As we gather in the chapel here in old Kilmainham Jail
I think about these past few weeks, oh will they say we’ve failed?
From our school days they have told us we must yearn for liberty
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me …
Oh Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love I place this wedding ring upon your finger
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye
Now I know it’s hard for you my love to ever understand
The love I shared for these brave men, the love for my dear land
But when glory called me to his side down in the GPO
I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go
Oh, Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye
Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too
On this May morn as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you
And I’ll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know
I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose.
Oh, Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die
With all my love I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye.
No.  Plunkett’s contribution to the Ireland of the future is much more worthy and more lasting.  Below is printed his “The Stars Sang in God’s Garden” and herein you can also find his “I see His face upon the Rose”.
Plunkett, of course, constructed the strategic plan of the Easter Rising, which would have had a much greater chance of success had the rebels not been shorn of numbers of volunteers by McNeill’s countermanding order.
The Stars Sang in God’s Garden
The stars sang in God’s garden,
The stars are the birds of God;
The night-time is God’s harvest,
It’s fruits are the words of God.
God ploughed his fields in the morning,
God sowed his seed at noon,
God reaped and gathered in his corn
With the rising of the moon.
The sun rose up at midnight,
The sun rose red as blood,
It showed the Reaper, the dead Christ,
Upon his cross of wood.
For many live that one may die,
And one must die that many live –
The stars are silent in the sky
Lest my poor songs be fugitive. …
Less well known is that Plunkett made the first colour photograph in Ireland and built a wireless transmitter to broadcast news of the Rising in the United States. 
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