The Stamp of a Patriot

Here are two men who put a stamp on their country’s history, one Chinese and one Irish.

And it was the Irishman who inspired the Chinese poet to write one of his more stirring works.

Guo Moruo (1892-1978) was a young journalist in Japan when he started following the story of Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, when he began his 74-day hunger strike in August 1920.

Shortly after MacSwiney’s death, Guo wrote a long poem, ‘with hot tears,’ entitled ‘Victory in Death.’ It became a source of hope for a generation of young Chinese despairing about the future of their country after the Japanese occupied their historic Shandong province. Guo went on to be one of the most influential poets at a crucial stage of Chinese history.

This is part of a series of poem on MacSwiney that he wrote:

‘Impartial God of Death! I am grateful to you,

You have saved MacSwiney for whom my love and reverence know no bounds,

MacSwiney, fighter for freedom, you have shown how great be the powers of the human will.

I am grateful to you, I extol you: freedom can henceforth never die.’

I got to know about this from a talk given by Dr Jerusha McCormick at the Ireland and China Symposium at the RIA in April.

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