Prophets are Weeping - President releases his first poem since 2011
THE turmoil in the Middle East and the displacement of millions of people through war and fighting has inspired President Michael D Higgins to pen his first poem since taking office.
Mr Higgins released the text of his latest work, 'The Prophets Are Weeping' after putting his career as a poet and writer on hold.
It is understood Mr Higgins had been working on the piece for a long time and completed it in October last year.
The President had referred to the poem and included the stanzas in his annual Christmas card message - but it has only become publicly available now.
The poem is believed to be a commentary on the social and political upheaval in the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq, where terrorist group Isis has killed and displaced millions of people.
"To those on the road it is reported that the Prophets are weeping, at the abuse, Of their words, Scattered to sow an evil seed," the poem opens.
He also highlights the devastating impact the fighting is having on children and their parents.
"The sun burns down, on the children who are crying, on the long journeys repeated, their questions not answered.
"Mothers and Fathers hide their faces.
"Unable to explain, why they must endlessly, no end in sight,
"Move for shelter, for food, for safety, for hope."
The President spoke about the poem to a group of young people last week, where he voiced concerns that high unemployment levels could lead young people to pursue extremism.
Prior to his election, the former Labour Party TD and minister was a prolific writer. However this is his first work since moving into Áras an Uachtaráin in 2011.
The last book of poetry published and released by President Higgins was 'New and Selected Poems' in 2011.
He has also written and compiled poetry in 'The Betrayal' (1990), 'The Season of Fire' (1993), and 'An Arid Season' (2004)
The poem was written before the terrorist attacks by radical Islamic fundamentalists on the offices of the 'Charlie Hebdo' magazine in Paris last month.
Mr Higgins expressed his solidarity with the people of France following the attacks and signed a book of condolences in Dublin for the victims of the attacks.
Continuing the poetic theme, the President and his wife Sabina celebrated the life and works of WB Yeats with schoolchildren at Saint Brigid's National School in Castleknock yesterday.
The Dublin school is celebrating its 150th anniversary after opening in 1865 - the same year Yeats was born.
The President also inspected a montage of drawings by pupils which were exhibited on a cloth tapestry.
During the visit Mr Higgins also admired poems written by the children.
The Prophets are Weeping:
To those on the road it is reported that
The Prophets are weeping,
At the abuse
Of their words,
Scattered to sow an evil seed.
Rumour has it that,
The prophets are weeping.
At their texts distorted,
The death and destruction,
Imposed in their name.
The sun burns down,
On the children who are crying,
On the long journeys repeated,
Their questions not answered.
Mothers and Fathers hide their faces,
Unable to explain,
Why they must endlessly,
No end in sight,
Move for shelter,
for food, for safety, for hope.
The Prophets are weeping,
For the words that have been stolen,
From texts that once offered,
To reveal in ancient times,
A shared space,
Of love and care,
Above all for the stranger.