Séamus Heaney: The Road to Derry

Along Glenshane and Foreglen
and the cold woods of Hillhead:
A wet wind in the hedges and a dark cloud on the mountain
And flags like black frost
mourning that the thirteen men were dead
The Roe wept at Dungiven and the Foyle cried out to heaven,
Burntollet’s old wound opened and again the Bogside bled;
By Shipquay Gate I shivered and by Lone Moor I enquired
Where I might find the coffins where the thirteen men lay dead.
My heart besieged by anger, my mind a gap of danger.
I walked among their old haunts.
the home ground where they bled;
And in the dirt lay justice like an acorn in the winter
Till its oak would sprout in Derry
where the thirteen men lay dead.

This is a poem on ‘Bloody Sunday’, an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. Twenty-six unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders are shot by soldiers of the British Army. The incident occurs during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march; the soldiers involved are the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (1 Para).

Thirteen males, seven of whom are teenagers, die immediately or soon after, while the death of another man four and a half months later is attributed to the injuries he received on that day.


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