May 5th marked 40 years since Bobby Sands (Roibeárd Ó Seachnasaigh) was murdered by the British State. Sands was a Volunteer within the Provisional IRA and once he was imprisoned became the officer commanding for the PIRA prisoners.
After years of bitter struggles waged by the Irish prisoners, in an effort to further raise awareness of their struggle and demands he launched a campaign to become a member of Parliament for the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone doing so on an anti-H Block and political prisoner status platform. His campaign received mass support as part of a broader attempt by the revolutionary prisoners to politicize and disrupt all aspects of rule in not just the north of Ireland but the actual institutions of British occupation. He would win, only to die less than a month later. Sands was the first of ten Irish Republican revolutionaries who would commit themselves to hunger strike within the Maze/H Block prison. The British government refused to concede and the hunger strikers died. Sands was 27 years old.
Sands took to study and writing while in prison. He was prolific in his poetry, which spoke to both the unique Irish situation as well as to its place within a broader international struggle for justice, revolutionary self-determination and freedom.
The Rhythm of Time
There’s an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend?
It has withstood the blows of a million years,
And will do so to the end.
It was born when time did not exist,
And it grew up out of life,
It cut down evil’s strangling vines,
Like a slashing searing knife.
It lit fires when fires were not,
And burnt the mind of man,
Tempering leandened hearts to steel,
From the time that time began.
It wept by the waters of Babylon,
And when all men were a loss,
It screeched in writhing agony,
And it hung bleeding from the Cross.
It died in Rome by lion and sword,
And in defiant cruel array,
When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’
Along with Appian Way.
It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,
And frightened lord and king,
And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,
As e’er a living thing.
It smiled in holy innocence,
Before conquistadors of old,
So meek and tame and unaware,
Of the deathly power of gold.
It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
And stormed the old Bastille,
And marched upon the serpent’s head,
And crushed it ‘neath its heel.
It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,
And starved by moons of rain,
Its heart was buried in Wounded Knee,
But it will come to rise again.
It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,
As it was knelt upon the ground,
And it died in great defiance,
As they coldly shot it down.
It is found in every light of hope,
It knows no bounds nor space
It has risen in red and black and white,
It is there in every race.
It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,
It screams in tyrants’ eyes,
It has reached the peak of mountains high,
It comes searing ‘cross the skies.
It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
That thought that says ‘I’m right!’