A Requiem for the Croppies

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley—

No kitchens on the run, no striking camp—

We moved quick and sudden in our own country.

The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.

A people, hardly marching—on the hike—

We found new tactics happening each day:

We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike

And stampede cattle into infantry,

Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.

Until, on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave.

Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.

The hillside blushed, soked in our broken wave.

They buried us without shroud or coffin

And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.

– Seamus Heaney