We Irish Our mothers and fathers and brothers Left the ash corner deserted the shamrock The emblem of wit and beauty Never to see old Erins isle once more The Queen of England was guilty she destroyed Massacred and murdered their forefathers Pulling their toe and finger nails rolling them downhill In spiked barrels they were persecuted massacred Thrown into martyrdom and tortured beyond The ideas of the present generation more was transported To Van Diemand’s Land were doomed to Port Macquarie Toweringabbie and Norfolk Island and Emu Plains Those places of tyranny and condemnation And every torture imaginable or fled to America Or other countries to bloom again another day But there never was such a thing as Justice In the English laws my own brothers What would England do if America declared war And hoisted a green flag as its all Irishmen That has got command of her armies forts and batteries Even her very life guards and beef tasters are Irish. Many a blooming Irishman rather than subdue To the Saxon yoke were flogged to death and bravely died In servile chains murdered on their own soil
NB: The poem above was composed using only the words that appear in the following texts attributed to Ned Kelly: The Jerilderie Letter, The Cameron Letter, The Babington Letter, and The O’Loghlen Letter. The poem uses Kelly’s spelling and echo his punctuation and capitalization.
BIO: Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet residing in Texas. His books include Boulevard (Beir Bua Press, 2021); (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); BLUE (above/ground press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). His poetry, published in fourteen countries, appears in journals and anthologies including Anthropocene, Beir Bua Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, The Elevation Review, In Parentheses: New Modernism, New World Writing, Mascara Literary Review, Ponder Review, Skylight 47 and Westerly. He is poetry editor for Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature.