Aodh Ruadh O’Domhnaill

Juan de Juni the priest said,
Each J becoming H;

Berruguete, he said,
And the G was aspirate;
Ximenez, he said then
And aspirated first and last.

But he never said
And—it seemed odd—he
Never had heard
The aspirated name
Of the centuries-dead
Bright-haired young man
Whose grave I sought.

All day I passed
In greatly built gloom
From dusty gilt tomb
Marvellously wrought
To tomb
Rubbing
At mouldy inscriptions
With fingers whetted with spit
And asking
Where I might find it
And failing.

Yet when
Unhurried—
Not as at home
Where heroes, hanged, are buried
With non-commissioned officers’ bored maledictions
Quickly in the gaol yard—

They brought
His blackening body
Here
To rest
Princes came
Walking behind it
And all Valladolid knew
And out to Simancas all knew
Where they buried Red Hugh.

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