President publishes May Day poem
Date: Fri 1st May, 2020 | 17:39
President Michael D. Higgins today, 1 May 2020, published a new poem for May Day, or International Workers’ Day.
The poem is dedicated to Mary McPartlan, folk singer and trade union activist. Published on the day that the President addressed a virtual May Day event hosted by SIPTU, the poem pays tribute to the trade union movement.
An audio recording of the President reading the poem is available here.
Of Saturdays Made Holy
(In Memory of Mary McPartlan, Folk Singer & Trade Union Activist)
The night is long and I awake
Recall the making of the march,
On those Saturdays made holy,
The beat of feet behind banners,
That bore the glory of the words,
The call for a life made equal,
Banners held steady for the speech,
Gold threaded, fringed, eyeleted
With care, for the carrying,
To defeat the opposing breeze,
Borne by arms made strong,
From work of mind, of heart and hand.
Those words, sent out to cheers
I search for now,
They are not gone,
Nor is the memory,
Of how they danced, without restraint,
Skipping back and forth to cheers,
In joyful subversion
Of the ordinary.
The echo of that beat of feet behind banners,
On Saturdays made holy
Is slow to come.
Can it be that it is lost,
Surely not so.
For in the long sweep of history,
In the stories that will be told,
Others will hear of how behind banners
They marched, women and men
And children too, on Saturdays made holy,
It will be told of how they sometimes won,
And often lost, if never defeated
It will matter that they sometimes wept
On folding, for another day, those banners
That carried words, emancipatory
The night though long
And dawn so slow in breaking
Yet morning light, glorious,
Reveals how from those arrows fledged in history,
That missed their mark in darkness
Have sprung in light some frail fruit trees,
In other times, an old planet weary finds new life,
Renewal, from the music of the heart.
And now a new song emerges,
From behind banners gold threaded, again made sacred,
On Saturdays made holy, with words emancipatory,
As voices rise in unison,
And sing of love,
And a new day,
For all humanity.
MDH May Day, 2020