Requiem for the Croppies

Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley . . .
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp . . .
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching. . . on the hike . . .
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until. . . on Vinegar Hill . . . the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August. . . the barley grew up out of our grave.

NOTE: This recalls the massacre of rebellious Irishmen and their fate in 1798.