James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 20

John Mitchel

By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)

  • John Mitchel was an Irish revolutionist and a leader in the “Young Ireland” movement. In 1848 he was convicted as editor of “The United Irishman” and sentenced to fourteen years banishment. He escaped from Van Diemen’s Land and came to New York in 1854, and lived in the United States until 1874, when he returned to Ireland. He died on March 20, 1875.

  • DEAD, with his harness on him:

    Rigid and cold and white,

    Marking the place of the vanguard

    Still in the ancient fight.

    The climber dead on the hill-side,

    Before the height is won:

    The workman dead on the building,

    Before the work is done!

    O, for a tongue to utter

    The words that should be said—

    Of his worth that was silver, living,

    That is gold and jasper, dead!

    Dead—but the death was fitting:

    His life to the latest breath,

    Was poured like wax on the chart of right,

    And is sealed by the stamp of Death!

    Dead—but the end was fitting:

    First in the ranks he led;

    And he marks the height of his nation’s gain,

    As he lies in his harness—dead!