Both Sides of the Divide: Poem 

A great deal is written about the qualities and virtues of brave men and women who fight in wars but one side does not have a monopoly on such qualities. Both sides share the same talents and weaknesses. Both sides contain good and bad people. One individual is aimless, another finds purpose – winners and losers on both sides. One person’s power means another person’s weakness or submission – in the end gain cannot be measured. Death and loss affects everyone. We all share the same human emotions, no matter what our cause. We can all understand our own point of view but what about the opposite point of view? We keep telling the stories but there comes a time when we need to consign history to the past and move forward. I wrote this poem for us all to remember. To be proud. To give and accept forgiveness and be reconciled. 



Poets and musicians,

Traitors and dreamers,

Saints and sinners,

All existed

On both sides of the divide.


Brave men and cowards,

Heroes and heroines,

Scoundrels and lords,

All were fighting

On both sides of the divide.


Aimlessness and purpose,

Glory and honour,

Victory and defeat,

All were present

On both sides of the divide.


Pride and shame,

Guilt and regret,

Love and hatred,

All were felt

On both sides of the divide.


Power and weakness,

Gain and loss,

Man and boy

Fought side by side

On both sides of the divide.


Widows and widowers,

Parents and children,

Sadness and tears

Flowed so bitterly

On both sides of the divide.


Now I see clearly, so clearly.

For healing time has intervened.

Our cause was noble, even divine

Everyone said so!

On our side of the divide.


Tell your children,

Speak of valour.

Hide the blood soaked bodies

Deep in the earth you love

On our side of the divide.


Honour your dead.

Uphold their memory.

Let freedom endure.

Gun shots reverberate

On our side of the divide.


Change the text of Revolution

To a softer sound.

Hearts and minds seek resolution

Hands at last unbound

On our side of the divide.


Put grief in a box and

Place it gently in the grave.

Accept what has passed

Seek reconciliation

On our side of the divide.


Forgive your enemies.

Forgive your brothers.

Move forward in accord.

Embrace true peace and gain true freedom

On ALL sides of the divide.


The text used in this post is © Martha Ashwell and the images are © E.M. Powell.

Martha wrote ‘Both Sides of the Divide’ for Manchester Irish Writers’ commemorative event, ‘1916 – The Risen Word’, which was performed at the Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester on March 10 2016. MIW received the generous support of the Embassy of Ireland for this event.

Welcome to Manchester Irish Writers!