Saturday, 23 May 2015

Citizen Proud

Rest easy, O'Leary, they came home on planes
so that romantic Ireland could rise from the grave.
Car pools and foot passengers on ferry boats,
they joined in to exercise their right to vote.
As you, I'm against religion and state
being married together to govern our fate.
But today, oh today, I'm a citizen proud:
No straight or gay marriage, we're one civil crowd.
I'm so grateful this nation, for my children, affirms
sexual orientation as an irrelevant term.
Mind you, I believe it should never have been
that an election was needed to make people free.

(Meanwhile, in Palmyra, a rampage ensues
death and destruction all freedom removes,
erasure of origins, autonomy, humans.
No polls or ballots or civil rights movements.)

Let's not forget Fairview Park and its like
and let's celebrate long into this night.
Love is the law now, no longer unwritten.
This is a country for all men and women.

(Explanation: Yesterday, 22nd May 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to vote for marriage equality by popular vote. I think it is sad that we had to vote on it at all because marriage rights should have always been for all. I also think this is such a great day, not just for all the people I know who will be directly and immediately positively affected by this but also for my children and their children. The "O'Leary" in my poem is John O'Leary, referred to repeatedly in W.B. Yeats' poem September 1913. The last line references Yeats' poem Sailing To Byzantium

When I wrote Wave The Thistle in October last year I remember how struck I was by the wonderful display of democracy and dialogue in the run up to the Scottish vote on independence in the middle of the violence and devastation occurring in other parts of the world. The Scots were such a good example of how civil society should work and I feel Ireland shone in the same way yesterday. However, I think it is so devastatingly sad that while we were exercising our right to vote people who share our world were, and still are, being murdered for being in their homeplace.)