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Anseo

by
 When the master was calling the roll
At the primary school in Collegelands,
You were meant to call back Anseo
And raise your hand 
As your name occurred.
Anseo, meaning here, here and now, All present and correct, Was the first word of Irish I spoke.
The last name on the ledger Belonged to Joseph Mary Plunkett Ward And was followed, as often as not, By silence, knowing looks, A nod and a wink, the master's droll 'And where's our little Ward-of-court?' I remember the first time he came back The master had sent him out Along the hedges To weigh up for himself and cut A stick with which he would be beaten.
After a while, nothing was spoken; He would arrive as a matter of course With an ash-plant, a salley-rod.
Or, finally, the hazel-wand He had whittled down to a whip-lash, Its twist of red and yellow lacquers Sanded and polished, And altogether so delicately wrought That he had engraved his initials on it.
I last met Joseph Mary Plunkett Ward In a pub just over the Irish border.
He was living in the open, in a secret camp On the other side of the mountain.
He was fighting for Ireland, Making things happen.
And he told me, Joe Ward, Of how he had risen through the ranks To Quartermaster, Commandant: How every morning at parade His volunteers would call back Anseo And raise their hands As their names occurred.

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