This episode of The Green Flame is a group discussion of the 2006 Ken Loach film “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.”

We recommend watching the film before listening to this episode to better understand the discussion. You can view the film for free on

The title of the film “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” comes from an Irish ballad written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836–1883), a Limerick-born poet and professor of English literature. The song is written from the perspective of a doomed young Wexford rebel who is about to sacrifice his relationship with his loved one and plunge into the cauldron of violence associated with the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. The references to barley in the song derive from the fact that the rebels often carried barley or oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march. This gave rise to the post-rebellion phenomenon of barley growing and marking the “croppy-holes,” mass unmarked graves into which slain rebels were thrown, symbolizing the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule. As the barley will grow every year in the spring this is said to symbolize Irish resistance to British oppression and that Ireland will never yield and will always oppose British rule on the island.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

I sat within a valley green, I sat there with my true love, My sad heart strove the two between, The old love and the new love, – The old for her, the new that made Me think of Ireland dearly, While soft the wind blew down the glade And shook the golden barley

‘Twas hard the woeful words to frame To break the ties that bound us ‘Twas harder still to bear the shame Of foreign chains around us And so I said, “The mountain glen I’ll seek next morning early And join the brave United Men!” While soft winds shook the barley

While sad I kissed away her tears, My fond arms ’round her flinging, The foeman’s shot burst on our ears, From out the wildwood ringing, – A bullet pierced my true love’s side, In life’s young spring so early, And on my breast in blood she died While soft winds shook the barley!

I bore her to the wildwood screen, And many a summer blossom I placed with branches thick and green Above her gore-stain’d bosom:- I wept and kissed her pale, pale cheek, Then rushed o’er vale and far lea, My vengeance on the foe to wreak, While soft winds shook the barley!

But blood for blood without remorse, I’ve ta’en at Oulart Hollow And placed my true love’s clay-cold corpse Where I full soon will follow; And ’round her grave I wander drear, Noon, night, and morning early, With breaking heart whene’er I hear The wind that shakes the barley!

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The Green Flame is a Deep Green Resistance podcast offering revolutionary analysis, skill sharing, and inspiration for the movement to save the planet by any means necessary. Our hosts are Max Wilbert and Jennifer Murnan.

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