Monday 22 April 2019

Rising Poems: 'Comrades' by Eva Gore-Booth


The peaceful night that round me flows,
Breaks through your iron prison doors,
Free through the world your spirit goes,
Forbidden hands are clasping yours.
The wind is our confederate,
The night has left her doors ajar,
We meet beyond earth’s barred gate,
Where all the world’s wild Rebels are.

An Assessment of 'Comrades' by Dr Lucy Collins

Eva Gore-Booth, poet and activist, was the sister of Constance Markievicz. Both women rejected their privileged upbringing in different ways: Constance became a revolutionary nationalist while Eva chose pacifism and social reform.

Though the sisters disagreed on the subject of violent rebellion, ‘Comrades’ powerfully expresses their deep personal bond – its simplicity reflects the poet’s need to speak of feelings unfettered by the descriptive detail of everyday life.

Night, traditionally a time for poetic reflection on mortality, offers release; single syllable words aptly express the flow of emotion across all obstacles and the convergence of these two lives.

The sisters were convinced of their power to communicate telepathically since childhood, and here their instinctive closeness finds poetic form.

In the spirit of love and solidarity the poem charts a move beyond earthly states towards spiritual transcendence – the place of pure feeling where idealists unite. 

Dr Lucy Collins is a lecturer in English at University College Dublin (UCD). She is the curator of 'Reading 1916', a forthcoming exhibition at UCD Special Collections.

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