From the Irish

© By James Simmons

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Most terrible was our hero in battle blows:
hands without fingers, shorn heads and toes
were scattered. That day there flew and fell
from astonished victim eyebrow, bone and entrail,
like stars in the sky, like snowflakes, like nuts in May,
like a meadow of daisies, like butts from an ashtray.

Familiar things, you might brush against or tread
upon in the daily round, were glistening red
with the slaughter the hero caused, though he had gone.
By proxy his bomb exploded, his valour shone.

© James Simmons, From the Irish, 1985, complete text, Poems 1956-1986, 1986, The Gallery Press.

James Simmons connects the modern violence with the mythical violence of the distant Irish past in this description of the carnage caused by a bomb. His ironic description of the bomber as hero is contemptuous.

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