Easter


Introduction: From the liner notes of Six Of One, Steve Hogarth said: "It was February '89. I had been with the band for about three weeks. We were at the Music Farm, near Brighton, Sussex. I had this red plastic bucket full of cassettes and tambourines. In the evenings, we would listen to any half-formed musical ideas we had written during the days. If we were stuck for inspiration, Mark would ask me if there was anything in the bucket... I'd written this song about a year before, in early '88, but never got beyond chorus 2 until the band got hold of it...

The song originated as a How We Live song.




I was thinking of the The Skye Boat Song and I wanted Easter to be like that, but like an anthem for Ireland. It's not a political song, it's a love song - a tribute to the warmth of the Irish spirit, a message of hope and support to the great majority of people who want nothing to do with the gunmen (all the gunmen) but must, nonetheless, raise their children amidst a climate of potential violence. I referred to Yeats' poem Easter 1916... more out of reverence to his genius than out of plagiarism... honest!" 

From the July 1992 (no. 155) issue of Record Collector by Linda La Ban
: "'I was trying to rewrite the Skye Boat Song,' Hogarth smiles, humming that folk song. 'I'm not Irish but I had been at college with a guy who had grown up on the Falls Road, and living with him hammered home the reality of the Irish situation. I wanted to write a song for the Irish people, 99% of whom hate the struggle and want nothing to do with it. They are quite happy to live in peace together, and yet there are these terrorists who perpetuate violence, and I sometimes wonder to what extent it's about money rather than freedom. I just wanted to write a song of hope, a little love song for the people who are stuck in the middle of it. It is, after all, real people getting murdered.'" 
 
Paul Hughes sent the following through: "The poem is Easter 1916 by William Butler Yeats, taken from his anthology Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), a lot of which is about the euphemistically-titled 'troubles'." 



EASTER 1916 - W.B. Yeats
I have met them at close of day
Coming from vivid faces
That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And road our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is heaven's part, our part
To murmer name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born. 

September 1916



The names mentioned towards the end are prominent figure in the Republican uprising, including James Connolly, who came from Edinburgh and in whose name there is still a march through the city every year. 

Pears Cyclopedia: "William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish lyric poet and playwright, born near Dublin, a leader of the Irish literary revival." 

‘The grey and the green’
This particular phrase appears to have troubled many people, myself included. It seems that many people on Freaks were convinced (particularly since New Model Army have a song entitled The Valleys of The Green and The Grey), that the phrase means something other than the simple mist/ field symbolism. P. T. McNiff posted about the symbolism of the Tricolour colours in the explanations for Forgotten Sons, so many of us imagined that the ‘green’ was the same here (Catholic), but didn’t know what the grey referred to. 

The general opinion about the NMA song, was that it was about old Yorkshire industrial towns, like Huddersfield or Halifax, and the effect of people leaving the rural villages to work in these depressing towns; certainly not an image that could be associated with Easter. It seems that maybe it was just a simple image of the fog on the field. 

‘Mary Dunoon’
Dunoon is a typical Irish name one might find in all kinds of religion and political parties, and is probably a symbol for the line that was drawn is Ireland, which caused the death of so many Irish sons, so Mary Dunoon is a fictitious name, a symbol for all the mothers in Ireland. 

Robert Maitland added, "Dunoon is a town on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll, Scotland.  It is not an Irish surname. It means fort on the green hill.  The Scots (or Gaels) originally came from the north of Ireland and their Kingdom in what is now Scotland, was Dalriada.  

"The modern name for Dalriada is Argyll (in Gaelic, Earra Ghaidheal meaning land of the Gael). All this makes it more puzzling as why a song about Ireland should include someone with a Scottish place name for a surname. I suspect that being English they assumed it was Irish.  There are a lot of place names and surnames that are similar in both Ireland and Western Scotland. "

Of course, Mark is Irish, not English.

Steve Ross posted an article from The Web USA - Issue # 8 - November 1994, pg.44 (Itself a reprint of an Interview with Steve Hogarth by Martin Jansen and Patrick van der Splinter, The Web Holland - July 13, 1994/Rotterdam): 

"Web: And does the line "...where the border runs between/where Mary Dunoon's boy fell" refer to the division of Ireland?

"Hogarth: Yes, and it's fiction. I mean I deliberately didn't use an actual case of someone having lost a son, but I'm referring to the grief of a mother who loses a son as a result of the troubles over there."

‘Out of the port of Liverpool, Bound for the North of Ireland’
Liverpool being the usual port for the North, Holyhead in Wales being the one for Dublin. 

‘What will you do. . .’
This is a direct allusion to the poem. Martijn Buijs sent the following from the Grolier CD Encyclopedia: "Easter Rising: The Easter Rising, an Irish insurrection against British rule, took place in Dublin in April 1916. (actually April 24 - Ed) It was led by members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (earlier known as Fenians). Most of the participants were members of the Irish Volunteers, a paramilitary force formed during the crisis over the home rule bill of 1912 and sustained by disappointment over the postponement of home rule for the duration of World War I. The rising was unpopular and was suppressed within a week, although subsequent executions of 15 of its leaders, including the writer Patrick Pearse, evoked widespread sympathy, which worked to the political benefit of the Irish nationalist movement Sinn Fein."

Among those who survived was Michael Collins, the man who went on to invent urban terrorism, and the first leader of the IRA, and who features in the eponymous film with Liam Neeson. However - beware; a few parts bear no more relation to actual history than does most of Braveheart

‘Plough and the Stars alight?’
Phil 'Amerillo' Rotherham
said: "This was a flag used to represent the Irish Citizens Army during the 1916 uprising. (It is also referred to the Starry Plough)." 

I then found some info at a now defunct Geocities website from which the following was  adapted: 

"In 1913 police attacked striking workers who were demonstrating in Dublin, killing two. Trade union leaders decided to establish a paramilitary organisation - the 'Irish Citizen Army' - to protect the workers. Although the ICA was initially armed only with batons it soon acquired firearms and munitions.

"The Starry Plough (the original version right) was adopted as the army's flag in 1914: the plough and the stars symbolising the present and the future of the working class respectively. The ICA participated in the 1916 rising at which time the British army captured the flag. It was returned to Ireland in 1966 and is now preserved in the National Museum of Ireland.
"In 1934 a simplified version of the Starry Plough was designed for use by the country's largest trade union, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (now SIPTU), and this came to be generally accepted as the flag of the Irish trade union and labour movement as a whole."

Gareth Foy said: "The Plough and the Stars was also a political/ social play, possibly a satire, written around the time of the uprising in the 1920s by a wonderful Dublin playwright called, I think, Se├ín O'Casey." 

Chris Ashby said: "Also the plough is another name for the star constellation commonly known as the big dipper or whatever." (Or The Great Bear. It is this constellation which is marked over the lilies on the water panel inside the gatefold- Ed)

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