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This article is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

W.B Yeats, the British Empire, James Joyce and Mother Grogan Thomas Kinsella

DESPITE THE transformation and the powerful rhetoric in 'Easter 1916', there is a suggestion of the rebels' unreadiness for the responsible world:
       
… our part
To murmur name upon name
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.1


The image of exhausted children turns the rebellion into child's play, an imitation of real warfare.

But Pearse had dealt with adult matters. He had studied the mechanisms of British colonial exploitation in Ireland and identified the system of education as a powerful device, a 'murder machine' doing what Swift had recommended: teaching the English tradition in the English language in Irish schools. Pearse established his own school to present the Irish tradition in the Irish language. The logic was clear and direct, whatever about the chances of success. And the emotion was high. Pearse put forward as 'the thing most needful in education: an adequate inspiration … A love and a service so excessive as to annihilate all thought of self, a recognition that one must give all, must be willing always to make the ultimate sacrifice.2

On the subject of sacrifice and renunciation Pearse wrote:
       
Fornocht do chonnac thú,
A áillne na háillne,
Is do dhallas mo shúl
Ar eagla go stánfhainn …


Naked I saw thee,
O beauty of beauty,
And I ...


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