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I want to be Robin to Bush's Batman.

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I Want...

I want to be brave,
Like Superman and Batman.

I want to be strong,
Like Wonderwoman and The Hulk.

I want to have courage,
And Not be afraid.

I also want to,
Control my rage.

I want to be gorgous,
I want to have beauty.

I want to be accepted,
I want to be known.

I want my art,
To change a life.

I want my life,
To be known.

I want to know,
Who I am.

Cause right now,
I am lost.

I know nothing of my past,
Or what is to come.

I count on luck,
To get me out of trouble.

I want to be heard,
I want to be seen.

I want people,
To stop ignoring me.

I am not begging or pleading,
I am just wishing.

Please someone help me,
Cause I feel like dying.

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Down And Out

Its good to be here! howve you been?
Check my bags, boy! wheres my room?
I sit on the phone, thats my game,
Keep up the pressure all the way!
I dont want to beat about the bush
But none of us are getting any younger.
Theres people out there who could take your place.
A more commercial view! a fresher face!
I need a shower, take a nap
Ill meet you in the bar, we must have a rap.
Theres a lot on the line, a lot to say.
Theres something I must tell you today.
You and I both know the score,
You cant go on like this forever.
So its with regret that I tell you now
That from this moment on,
Youre on your own!
I dont talk round corners, its right between the eyes
If youre slow theyll run past you,
Stand tall, see them falling over.
I walk a straight line, its right between the eyes.
Well show me the door, show me someone wholl do it better.
The drinks are on me, be my guest.
Smoke a cigar? take the best.
Dont hedge your bets, we can make a deal,
You got it in your pocket, how do you feel?
So glad thats over, now you know,
But Im only acting under orders.
And looking down on you from way up here.
Youve got to sink or swim, get off the floor!
I dont talk round corners, its right between the eyes
If youre slow theyll run past you,
Stand tall, see them falling over,
I walk a straight line, right between the eyes.
Well show me the door, show me someone wholl do it better.

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Down & Out

Its good to be here! howve you been?
Check my bags, boy! wheres my room?
I sit on the phone, thats my game,
Keep up the pressure all the way!
I dont want to beat about the bush
But none of us are getting any younger.
Theres people out there who could take your place.
A more commercial view! a fresher face!
I need a shower, take a nap
Ill meet you in the bar, we must have a rap.
Theres a lot on the line, a lot to say.
Theres something I must tell you today.
You and I both know the score,
You cant go on like this forever.
So its with regret that I tell you now
That from this moment on,
Youre on your own!
I dont talk round corners, its right between the eyes
If youre slow theyll run past you,
Stand tall, see them falling over.
I walk a straight line, its right between the eyes.
Well show me the door, show me someone wholl do it better.
The drinks are on me, be my guest.
Smoke a cigar? take the best.
Dont hedge your bets, we can make a deal,
You got it in your pocket, how do you feel?
So glad thats over, now you know,
But Im only acting under orders.
And looking down on you from way up here.
Youve got to sink or swim, get off the floor!
I dont talk round corners, its right between the eyes
If youre slow theyll run past you,
Stand tall, see them falling over,
I walk a straight line, right between the eyes.
Well show me the door, show me someone wholl do it better.

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I want to know what you want.
This beating around the bush skit,
Has played out.
From your lips to my ears...
I want to hear what this is about!
Come out with it!

You're gay?
Is that what you want to say?
Or is it,
You are cruiser friendly?

Don't claim you are a freak.
You'd be walking on the wrong turf,
In my territory.
On my streets.

What is it?
You're a lesbian in a borrowed body?
And you want to confess this to Oprah.
While the camera pans the audience...
To zoom and focus upon me,
Exposing my complete humiliation!
Has that been scheduled?
You know I need advance notification.
When is it?
Is that what this is?

And I am NOT delusional.
So don't look at me like that!
As if we are playing 'Jeopardy'...
And I haven't responded with the right question.
To deliver you from your game of 'Hide and Seek'.

Very soon you can STAY 'hidden'.
To play cat and mouse in an empty house.

I want to know what you want.
This beating around the bush skit,
Has played out.
From your lips to my ears...
I want to hear what this is about!
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.

Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.

You're gay?
Is that what you want to say?
Or is it,
You are cruiser friendly?

Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.

Don't claim you are a freak.
You'd be walking on the wrong turf,
In my territory.
And on my streets.
And that kind of competition,
Is beyond my seeking.

Come out with it!
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!
Come out with it!
Or be left to pout.
Come out with it!

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Sugar bush I want you

Sugar bush I want you
sounds magically from the
alfalfa field

where small blue flowers
are between the green
and a sweet smell
rise in my nose

and the sky is bright blue
as if summer
is holding a festival,

but it’s your deep blue eyes
that draws my glance
and your blond curls
hanging out beneath
your straw hat.

Maybe I have to tell more
about a boy and a girl
meeting each other
in the alfalfa field,
but everyone already knows
where these words go...

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Triolet: The Robin's Song

The robin perched atop the tree
Signals spring his warbling song;
How long will I be pleased to see
The robin perched atop the tree?

Because it seems he sings for me,
I feel I want to sing along
With the robin perched atop the tree
Who signals spring his warbling song!

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Walt Whitman

I Will Take An Egg Out Of The Robin's Nest

I WILL take an egg out of the robin's nest in the orchard,
I will take a branch of gooseberries from the old bush in the garden,
and go and preach to the world;
You shall see I will not meet a single heretic or scorner,
You shall see how I stump clergymen, and confound them,
You shall see me showing a scarlet tomato, and a white pebble from
the beach.

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Robin of Pyrocanta

A spring Robin, looking around,
red breast, sure, hop hop.
A look up, around, hop.
And towards the garden, centre,
wait, look.
Then it lifts its head as if for breath,
from a pool.
And looking as if a pendulum,
observing time.
Away then, with its crumb,
to the hedgeing safely.
Towards the berried shrub,
king of red berried bush,
red breasted robin
of pyrocanta, sing.

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Rain in the Bush

The steady soaking of the rain,
The bush all sad and sombre;
The trees are weeping in their pain,
Dank leaves the ground encumber.
A dismal ghost of silence strays
From shade to dusky daylight;
O'er all a whispered horror weighs,
Like mist athwart the grey light.
A frightened robin in the ferns
Peeks fearfully and lonely,
But back to comfort him returns
The drip of rain-drops only.
The fern-fronds shiver when they feel
Cold foot-prints press like mist, as
Dim forms beneath the creepers steal
And vanish in the vistas.

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You've Got Me (Right Where You Want Me)

(Right Where You Want Me)
Darling could I just have one moment with you
We're here all alone just us two
Let me try to tell you in a few little words
How my heart feels about you
If there were no rainbow I'd paint one for you
And I'd teach the robin a new song or two
Then I'd fight forever
And hand it to you
Oh I wish there was more could do
You've got me right where you want me
It's true I'm right in the palm of your hand
You've got me right where you want me to be
And I want to be right where I am
You've got me right where you want me to be
And I want be right where I am

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Steve Erwin; A Crocodile man and for you a rose' bush

You’re really fearless and want to hunt
You’re really want to make us to teach
You’re really lover of wild
You’re really uncaring it but to learn from it
You’re really want to teach them.
You really twisted order of the day
and shatter mirror of terror

You make efforts to peace
'Watching. Waiting. Carefully baiting.'

You belong to a brave leaders of the day
To you, it was you who did it best

For you we learn wild animal kingdom
You’re not hide, pridely teach us to protect our pendant head
You’re not mere a crocodile hunter
Not that filthy breed of reptilian...

A rose bush for you....

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In Shepherd’s Bush - Hymn to Westfield

In Shepherd’s Bush, I shall not want
For anything to buy,
For Westfield shopping centre, there,
Will all my wants supply.

My spirits are restored again
When I can view the ranks
Of well-stocked, chic designer shops
E’en though I owe the banks.

Yea, though I walk through debt’s dark vale,
As I approach the till,
My credit card will comfort me,
Though I still fear the bill.

For there are tables, furniture
And presents, cushions, throws
To decorate my living room
Until it overflows.

And though the bailiffs some fine day
May try to follow me,
Still, shopping malls, my spending place
Forevermore shalt be.

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Beating Around The Bush

Smiling face and loving eyes
But you keep on telling me all those lies
Howd you xpect me to believe?
Honey I aint that naive
Baby I got my eye on you
cause you do all the things I want you to
Stop your crying and dry your tears
I aint that wet behing the ears
Well you can throw me left
And you can throw me right
But where was you last night?
Beating around the bush
Wish I knew whats on your mind
Why you bein so unkind?
member those nights we spent alone
Talkin on the telephone
Thought of you go through my brain
Told me that you felt the same
Told me that you loved me too
Tell me, who would lie with you?
Well you can chew it up
And you can spit it out
Let it all hang out
Beating around the bush
Youre the meanest woman Ive ever known
Sticks and stones wont break my bones
I know what youre lookin for
You ate you cake, you want some more
Im gonna give you just a one more change
Try to save our romance
Thats all Im gonna do
The rest is up to you
You can chew it up
And you can spit it out
Let it all hang out
Beating around the bush

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Dead Robin

The inadvertent fact of a robin
Carelessly snapping its back on a glass bus shelter
Is not a major tragedy of epic proportions.

Nevertheless, today there has been a death,
Two beautiful slender legs
Are crossed, a demure crucifix of twigs.
Tail feathers, folded away
Like ironed packing.

The small red body nestles in my hand
A cold flame
Fragile as an egg.

I do not want to bury it.
I do not want to draw earth's curtain over its closed face.
This delicate two-winged coffin.

I stroke and stroke the fiery breast
The light brown back
Turning it round and round like a roasting spit,
Regret its fading essences
Its lightness and its grace

Its softly thudding heartbeat
Has sunk without a trace
Into a sealed silence.

Over morning smells of toast and tea
I have read columns of obituaries
Black lists of names on thin cheap paper
My eyes dusted the dead as lightly as swatting a fly
But today one of the winged ones
Has tumbled from the sky
And I may stroke and stroke that small stilled throat
But cannot stir one feather with my gentling.

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Holly Bush

The Holly Bush

It was in the depth of winter
When snow lay crisp upon the ground
That I saw the tiny creatures
Which fluttered all around.

I stepped into the garden
To see what the fuss was all about.
There was a fairy trapped in my holly bush
And her friends were trying to pull her out.

But the sharp leaves stabbed at wings
And they tangled up long hair
As the fairies attempted their rescue.
They weren’t getting anywhere.

The fairies saw me on the garden path
And that I was getting near
They hid behind my chimney stack
And cried aloud in fear.

‘Stop being silly now, ’ I told them
As I carefully pulled the fairy free.
‘My name is Buttercup’, she said
As she explained to me.

That she had been stealing the berries
To plant down in the wood
Because there was no holly left.
She was really trying to be good.

‘People like holly for Christmas
But some of them dig up all the trees.
They don’t leave anything for the birds
So, can we have some berries, please.’

I did not want my little friend
To take another fall
So I helped to pick some berries
And said I did not mind at all.

The other fairies came to thank me
Then taking a berry each, off they flew
But Buttercup waited by my side
There was something else she had to do.

She waved her hand up in the air
And her dress changed to green and red
‘This will remind me of your holly bush
And your kindness, ’ the fairy said.

So, if you find a fairy in your garden
With a dress of red and green
Please, allow her to steal some berries
For it is my friend that you have seen.

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The Rose-Bush

There was a rose-bush in a garden growing,
Its tender leaves unfolding day by day;
The sun looked-on, and his down-going
Left it amid the starlit dusk of nights of May.

The dew-drop came and kissed it in the gloaming;
It gathered sweetness in the morning hours;
The bee beheld it as he went aroaming,
And thought, 'What honey will be hidden in its flowers!'

The light grew richer and the days grew long;
The May-time deepened into June;
The air was laden with the robin's song,
The light wind touched the leaves and set them atune.

And now a tiny bud appeared, and then another--
Bright promises of radiant flowers;
The breezes, whispering, told it to each other,
The rose-bush heard them in the gladsome hours.

New Hope awoke and thrilled in all it veins;
Life is so sweet that culminates in flowers!
It smiled and grew in misty summer rains,
And caught the freshness of the evening showers.

And oft the gardener came and stood beside;
He tended it alway with zealous care,
Watching lest any evil should betide,
Or blight creep o'er the leaves that grew so fair.

He crushed the buds and dropped them on the ground;
The rose-bush felt a chill in every vein;
It drooped, as if to hide each bitter wound--
This strange experience was its earliest thought of pain.

'Poor little plant,' the gardener thought,
Thou art too young, too young to know
That few buds unto flowers are brought,--
It is by pruning thou must grow.'

And still the summer smiled and shoned,
And other roses bloomed and died.
'Mine would more beauteously have blown,'
The little rose-bush sadly sighed.

Again the gardener sought his flowers,
Where he had watched his treasures blow:
The autumn blast has swept the bowers,
The winds and storms has laid them low!

Though sad of heart, the rose-bush still was green;
It lifted up its drooping head;
'The life that would have filled the buds may still be seen,
'Tis folded in its heart,' he said.

He stooped and took it from the ground
All trembling with its vague alarms,
And quick and tenderly he wrapped it round,
And kindly bore it in his arms.

And now where soft the sunshine flows,
Within a fair, immortal bower,
In all its fragrant beauty blooms the rose,
Its every bud grown into perfect flower.

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On Our Blindness - after John Milton - On His Blindness

On Our Blindness

When we consider all our freedoms lost
with HA! BE U.S.! Corpus of bush law,
black death to hide the whitewash when p’lice score
’gainst innocence ‘wrong place, wrong time’ star-crossed,
One wonders, when our children count the cost
and, chiding, true account present before
Executive Privilege bolted door,
will they, when light denied, in prison tossed,
murmur “God only needs assent Orwellian bossed! ”?
Man, chip embeddèd, acts recorded, sore
bearing harsh yoke, must serve where none ignore
C.C.T.V. controls come shine or frost.
They swerve too late who brake fair freedom’s flow,
stand, wait, burn at State stake, want not to know …

© Jonathan Robin Parody written 15 May 2007 after John MILTON 1608_1674 – On His Blindness. See below for alternative versions

On his Previous Blindness

When I consider how my life's been spent
these whirling years in this dark world and wide,
with that one talent which my wits supplied
held in abeyance waiting for love s[c]ent
to blossom to true beauty, to present
the world with tribute due and undenied,
I thank my stars I have not been denied
your love which none and nothing can prevent,
your love, where that of others is descent,
your love which above all on Earth I pride.
I thank 'coincidence' which could provide
the opportunity to be content.
When I consider this I understand
how two t[hr]o[ugh] one may flow, grow hand in hand

Parody John MILTON 1608_1674 – On His Blindness

Time Misspent

When he considers so much time misspent
these fifty years, he's little right to guide, –
such talent slight which tired wits supplied
suspended, in abeyance, impotent.
He tried to fight conformity, present
the world a contribution bona fide, –
He failed. The spirit is dissatisfied.
Some grief he wrought, feared fraudulent intent,
felt tenderness a threat – heart discontent.
Understanding free from bias, pride,
stays thankful for, thanks life which could provide
the opportunity to learn time lent
grants space to face oneself, to understand
how two should flow together, hand in hand...

Parody John MILTON 1608_1674 – On His Blindness


On his Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied? '
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.'

John MILTON 1608_1674


Reminiscent Reflections

When I consider how my life is spent,
I hardly ever repent.

Ogden NASH 1902_1971

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Robin Hood's Flight

Robin Hood's mother, these twelve years now,
Has been gone from her earthly home;
And Robin has paid, he scarce knew how,
A sum for a noble tomb.

The church-yard lies on a woody hill,
But open to sun and air:
It seems as if the heaven still
Were looking and smiling there.

Often when Robin looked that way,
He looked through a sweet thin tear;
But he looked in a different manner, they say,
Towards the Abbey of Vere.

He cared not for its ill-got wealth,
He felt not for his pride;
He had youth, and strength, and health,
And enough for one beside.

But he thought of his gentle mother's cheek
How it sunk away,
And how she used to grow more weak
And weary every day;

And how, when trying a hymn, her voice
At evening would expire,
How unlike it was the arrogant noise
Of the hard throats in the quire:

And Robin thought too of the poor,
How they toiled without their share,
And how the alms at the abbey-door
But kept them as they were:

And he thought him then of the friars again,
Who rode jingling up and down
With their trappings and things as fine as the king's,
Though they wore but a shaven crown.

And then bold Robin he thought of the king,
How he got all his forests and deer,
And how he made the hungry swing
If they killed but one in a year.

And thinking thus, as Robin stood,
Digging his bow in the ground,
He was aware in Gamelyn Wood,
Of one who looked around.

"And what is Will doing," said Robin then,
"That he looks so fearful and wan?"
"Oh my dear master that should have been,
I am a weary man."

"A weary man," said Will Scarlet, "am I;
For unless I pilfer this wood
To sell to the fletchers, for want I shall die
Here in this forest so good.

"Here in this forest where I have been
So happy and so stout,
And like a palfrey on the green
Have carried you about."

"And why, Will Scarlet, not come to me?
Why not to Robin, Will?
For I remember thy love and thy glee,
And the scar that marks thee still;

"And not a soul of my uncle's men
To such a pass should come,
While Robin can find in his pocket or bin
A penny or a crumb.

"Stay thee, Will Scarlet, man, stay awhile;
And kindle a fire for me."
And into the wood for half a mile,
He has vanished instantly.

Robin Hood, with his cheek on fire,
Has drawn his bow so stern,
And a leaping deer, with one leap higher,
Lies motionless in the fern.

Robin, like a proper knight
As he should have been,
Carved a part of the shoulder right,
And bore off a portion clean.

"Oh, what hast thou done, dear master mine!
What hast thou done for me?"
"Roast it, Will, for excepting wine,
Thou shalt feast thee royally."

And Scarlet took and half roasted it,
Blubbering with blinding tears,
And ere he had eaten a second bit,
A trampling came to their ears.

They heard the tramp of a horse's feet,
And they listened and kept still,
For Will was feeble and knelt by the meat;
And Robin he stood by Will.

"Seize him, seize him!" the Abbot cried
With his fat voice through the trees;
Robin a smooth arrow felt and eyed,
And Will jumped stout with his knees.

"Seize him, seize him!" and now they appear
The Abbot and foresters three.
"'Twas I," cried Will Scarlet, "that killed the deer."
Says Robin, "Now let not a man come near,
Or he's dead as dead can be."

But on they came, and with an embrace
The first one the arrow met;
And he came pitching forward and fell on his face,
Like a stumbler in the street.

The others turned to that Abbot vain,
But "seize him!" still he cried,
And as the second turned again,
An arrow was in his side.

"Seize him, seize him still, I say,"
Cried the Abbot in furious chafe,
"Or these dogs will grow so bold some day,
Even priests will not be safe."

A fatal word! for as he sat
Urging the sword to cut,
An arrow stuck in his paunch so fat,
As in a leathern butt,

As in a leathern butt of wine;
Or dough, a household lump;
Or a pumpkin; or a good beef chine,
Stuck that arrow with a dump.

"Truly," said Robin without fear,
Smiling there as he stood,
"Never was slain so fat a deer
In good old Gamelyn wood."

"Pardon, pardon, Sir Robin stout,"
Said he that stood apart,
"As soon as I knew thee, I wished thee out,
Of the forest with all my heart.

"And I pray thee let me follow thee
Any where under the sky,
For thou wilt never stay here with me,
Nor without thee can I."

Robin smiled, and suddenly fell
Into a little thought;
And then into a leafy dell,
The three slain men they brought.

Ancle deep in leaves so red,
Which autumn there had cast,
When going to her winter-bed
She had undrest her last.

And there in a hollow, side by side,
They buried them under the treen;
The Abbot's belly, for all it's pride,
Made not the grave be seen.

Robin Hood, and the forester,
And Scarlet the good Will,
Struck off among the green trees there
Up a pathless hill;

And Robin caught a sudden sight,
Of merry sweet Locksley town,
Reddening in the sun-set bright;
And the gentle tears came down.

Robin looked at the town and land
And the church-yard where it lay;
And poor Will Scarlet kissed his hand,
And turned his head away.

Then Robin turned with a grasp of Will's,
And clapped him on the shoulder,
And said with one of his pleasant smiles,
"Now shew us three men bolder."

And so they took their march away
As firm as if to fiddle,
To journey that night and all next day
With Robin Hood in the middle.

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Robin Hood and Little John

When Robin Hood was about twenty years old,
With a hey down down and a down
He happend to meet Little John,
A jolly brisk blade, right fit for the trade,
For he was a lusty young man.

Tho he was calld Little, his limbs they were large,
And his stature was seven foot high;
Where-ever he came, they quak'd at his name,
For soon he would make them to fly.

How they came acquainted, I'll tell you in brief,
If you will but listen a while;
For this very jest, amongst all the rest,
I think it may cause you to smile.

Bold Robin Hood said to his jolly bowmen,
Pray tarry you here in this grove;
And see that you all observe well my call,
While thorough the forest I rove.

We have had no sport for these fourteen long days,
Therefore now abroad will I go;
Now should I be beat, and cannot retreat,
My horn I will presently blow.

Then did he shake hands with his merry men all,
And bid them at present good b'w'ye;
Then, as near a brook his journey he took,
A stranger he chancd to espy.

They happend to meet on a long narrow bridge,
And neither of them would give way;
Quoth bold Robin Hood, and sturdily stood,
I'll show you right Nottingham play.

With that from his quiver an arrow he drew,
A broad arrow with a goose-wing:
The stranger reply'd, I'll liquor thy hide,
If thou offerst to touch the string.

Quoth bold Robin Hood, Thou dost prate like an ass,
For were I to bend but my bow,
I could send a dart quite thro thy proud heart,
Before thou couldst strike me one blow.

'Thou talkst like a coward,' the stranger reply'd;
'Well armd with a long bow, you stand,
To shoot at my breast, while I, I protest,
Have nought but a staff in my hand.'

'The name of a coward,' quoth Robin, 'I scorn,
Wherefore my long bow I'll lay by;
And now, for thy sake, a staff I will take,
The truth of thy manhood to try.'

Then Robin Hood stept to a thicket of trees,
And chose him a staff of ground-oak;
Now this being done, away he did run
To the stranger, and merrily spoke:

Lo! see my staff, it is lusty and tough,
Now here on the bridge we will play;
Whoever falls in, the other shall win
The battel, and so we'll away.

'With all my whole heart,' the stranger reply'd;
'I scorn in the least to give out;'
This said, they fell to't without more dispute,
And their staffs they did flourish about.

And first Robin he gave the stranger a bang,
So hard that it made his bones ring:
The stranger he said, This must be repaid,
I'll give you as good as you bring.

So long as I'm able to handle my staff,
To die in your debt, friend, I scorn:
Then to it each goes, and followd their blows,
As if they had been threshing of corn.

The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown,
Which caused the blood to appear;
Then Robin, enrag'd, more fiercely engag'd,
And followd his blows more severe.

So thick and fast did he lay it on him,
With a passionate fury and ire,
At every stroke, he made him to smoke,
As if he had been all on fire.

O then into fury the stranger he grew,
And gave him a damnable look,
And with it a blow that laid him full low,
And tunbld him into the brook.

'I prithee, good fellow, O where art thou now?
' The stranger, in laughter, he cry'd;
Quoth bold Robin Hood, Good faith, in the flood,
And floating along with the tide.

I needs must acknowledge thou art a brave soul;
With thee I'll no longer contend;
For needs must I say, thous hast got the day,
Our battle shall be at an end.

Then unto the bank he did presently wade,
And pulld himself out by a thorn;
Which done, at the last, he blowd a loud blast
Straitway on his fine bugle-horn.

The eccho of which through the vallies did fly,
At which his stout bowmen appeard,
All clothd in green, most gay to be seen;
So up to their master they steerd.

'O what's the matter?' quoth William Stutely;
'Good master, you are wet to the skin:'
'No matter,' quoth he; 'the lad which you see,
In fighting, hath tumbld me in.'

'He shall not go scot-free,' the others reply'd;
So strait they were seizing him there,
To duck him likewise; but Robin Hood cries,
He is a stout fellow, forbear.

There's no one shall wrong thee, friend, be not afraid;
These bowmen upon me do wait;
There's threescore and nine; if thou wilt be mine,
Thou shalt have my livery strait.

And other accoutrements fit for a man;
Speak up, jolly blade, never fear;
I'll teach you also the use of the bow,
To shoot at the fat fallow-deer.

'O here is my hand,' the stranger reply'd,
'I'll serve you with all my whole heart;
My name is John Little, a man of good mettle;
Nere doubt me, for I'll play my part.'

His name shall be alterd,' quoth William
Stutely, 'And I will his godfather be;
Prepare then a feast, and none of the least,
For we will be merry,' quoth he.

They presently fetchd in a brace of fat does,
With humming strong liquor likewise;
They lovd what was good; so, in the green wood,
This pretty sweet babe they baptize.

He was, I must tell you, but seven foot high,
And, may be, an ell in the waste;
A pretty sweet lad; much feasting they had;
Bold Robin the christning grac'd.

With all his bowmen, which stood in a ring,
And were of the Notti[n]gham breed;
Brave Stutely comes then, with seven yeomen,
And did in this manner proceed.

'This infant was called John Little,' quoth he,
'Which name shall be changed anon;
The words we'll transpose, so where-ever he goes,
His name shall be calld Little John.'

They all with a shout made the elements ring,
So soon as the office was ore;
To feasting they went, with true merriment,
And tippld strong liquor gillore.

Then Robin he took the pretty sweet babe,
And cloathd him from top to the toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious long bow.

'Thou shalt be an archer as well as the best,
And range in the greenwood with us;
Where we'll not want gold nor silver, behold,
While bishops have ought in their purse.

'We live here like squires, or lords of renown,
Without ere a foot of free land;
We feast on good cheer, with wine, ale, and beer,
And evry thing at our command.'

Then musick and dancing did finish the day;
At length, when the sun waxed low,
Then all the whole train the grove did refrain,
And unto their caves they did go.

And so ever after, as long as he livd,
Altho he was proper and tall,
Yet nevertheless, the truth to express,
Still Little John they did him call.

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The Great Hunger

Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move
Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men.
If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove
Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book
Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs
And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.
Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?
Or why do we stand here shivering?
Which of these men
Loved the light and the queen
Too long virgin? Yesterday was summer. Who was it promised marriage to himself
Before apples were hung from the ceilings for Hallowe'en?
We will wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain,
Till the last soul passively like a bag of wet clay
Rolls down the side of the hill, diverted by the angles
Where the plough missed or a spade stands, straitening the way.
A dog lying on a torn jacket under a heeled-up cart,
A horse nosing along the posied headland, trailing
A rusty plough. Three heads hanging between wide-apart legs.
October playing a symphony on a slack wire paling.
Maguire watches the drills flattened out
And the flints that lit a candle for him on a June altar
Flameless. The drills slipped by and the days slipped by
And he trembled his head away and ran free from the world's halter,
And thought himself wiser than any man in the townland
When he laughed over pints of porter
Of how he came free from every net spread
In the gaps of experience. He shook a knowing head
And pretended to his soul
That children are tedious in hurrying fields of April
Where men are spanning across wide furrows.
Lost in the passion that never needs a wife
The pricks that pricked were the pointed pins of harrows.
Children scream so loud that the crows could bring
The seed of an acre away with crow-rude jeers.
Patrick Maguire, he called his dog and he flung a stone in the air
And hallooed the birds away that were the birds of the years.
Turn over the weedy clods and tease out the tangled skeins.
What is he looking for there?
He thinks it is a potato, but we know better
Than his mud-gloved fingers probe in this insensitive hair.
'Move forward the basket and balance it steady
In this hollow. Pull down the shafts of that cart, Joe,
And straddle the horse,' Maguire calls.
'The wind's over Brannagan's, now that means rain.
Graip up some withered stalks and see that no potato falls
Over the tail-board going down the ruckety pass -
And that's a job we'll have to do in December,
Gravel it and build a kerb on the bog-side. Is that Cassidy's ass
Out in my clover? Curse o' God
Where is that dog?.
Never where he's wanted' Maguire grunts and spits
Through a clay-wattled moustache and stares about him from the height.
His dream changes like the cloud-swung wind
And he is not so sure now if his mother was right
When she praised the man who made a field his bride.
Watch him, watch him, that man on a hill whose spirit
Is a wet sack flapping about the knees of time.
He lives that his little fields may stay fertile when his own body
Is spread in the bottom of a ditch under two coulters crossed in Christ's Name.
He was suspicious in his youth as a rat near strange bread,
When girls laughed; when they screamed he knew that meant
The cry of fillies in season. He could not walk
The easy road to destiny. He dreamt
The innocence of young brambles to hooked treachery.
O the grip, O the grip of irregular fields! No man escapes.
It could not be that back of the hills love was free
And ditches straight.
No monster hand lifted up children and put down apes
As here.
'O God if I had been wiser!'
That was his sigh like the brown breeze in the thistles.
He looks, towards his house and haggard. 'O God if I had been wiser!'
But now a crumpled leaf from the whitethorn bushes
Darts like a frightened robin, and the fence
Shows the green of after-grass through a little window,
And he knows that his own heart is calling his mother a liar
God's truth is life - even the grotesque shapes of his foulest fire.
The horse lifts its head and cranes
Through the whins and stones
To lip late passion in the crawling clover.
In the gap there's a bush weighted with boulders like morality,
The fools of life bleed if they climb over.
The wind leans from Brady's, and the coltsfoot leaves are holed with rust,
Rain fills the cart-tracks and the sole-plate grooves;
A yellow sun reflects in Donaghmoyne
The poignant light in puddles shaped by hooves.
Come with me, Imagination, into this iron house
And we will watch from the doorway the years run back,
And we will know what a peasant's left hand wrote on the page.
Be easy, October. No cackle hen, horse neigh, tree sough, duck quack.

Maguiire was faithful to death:
He stayed with his mother till she died
At the age of ninety-one.
She stayed too long,
Wife and mother in one.
When she died
The knuckle-bones were cutting the skin of her son's backside
And he was sixty-five.
O he loved his mother
Above all others.
O he loved his ploughs
And he loved his cows
And his happiest dream
Was to clean his arse
With perennial grass
On the bank of some summer stream;
To smoke his pipe
In a sheltered gripe
In the middle of July.
His face in a mist
And two stones in his fist
And an impotent worm on his thigh.
But his passion became a plague
For he grew feeble bringing the vague
Women of his mind to lust nearness,
Once a week at least flesh must make an appearance.
So Maguire got tired
Of the no-target gun fired
And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage
To the fields once again
Where eunuchs can be men
And life is more lousy than savage.

Poor Paddy Maguire, a fourteen-hour day
He worked for years. It was he that lit the fire
And boiled the kettle and gave the cows their hay.
His mother tall hard as a Protestant spire
Came down the stairs barefoot at the kettle-call
And talked to her son sharply: 'Did you let
The hens out, you?' She had a venomous drawl
And a wizened face like moth-eaten leatherette.
Two black cats peeped between the banisters
And gloated over the bacon-fizzling pan.
Outside the window showed tin canisters.
The snipe of Dawn fell like a whirring stone
And Patrick on a headland stood alone.
The pull is on the traces, it is March
And a cold black wind is blowing from Dundalk.
The twisting sod rolls over on her back
The virgin screams before the irresistible sock.
No worry on Maguire's mind this day
Except that he forgot to bring his matches.
'Hop back there Polly, hoy back, woa, wae,
From every second hill a neighbour watches
With all the sharpened interest of rivalry.
Yet sometimes when the sun comes through a gap
These men know God the Father in a tree:
The Holy Spirit is the rising sap,
And Christ will be the green leaves that will come
At Easter from the sealed and guarded tomb.
Primroses and the unearthly start of ferns
Among the blackthorn shadows in the ditch,
A dead sparrow and an old waistcoat. Maguire learns
As the horses turn slowly round the which is which
Of love and fear and things half born to mind
He stands between the plough-handles and he sees
At the end of a long furrow his name signed
Among the poets, prostitutes. With all miseries
He is one. Here with the unfortunate
Who for half-moments of paradise
Pay out good days and wait and wait
For sunlight-woven cloaks. O to be wise
As Respectability that knows the price of all things
And marks God's truth in pounds and pence and farthings.

April, and no one able to calculate
How far it is to harvest. They put down
The seeds blindly with sensuous groping fingers
And sensual dreams sleep dreams subtly underground.
Tomorrow is Wednesday - who cares?
'Remember Eileen Farrelly? I was thinking
A man might do a damned sight worse …' That voice is blown
Through a hole in a garden wall -
And who was Eileen now cannot be known.
The cattle are out on grass
The corn is coming up evenly.
The farm folk are hurrying to catch Mass:
Christ will meet them at the end of the world, the slow and the speedier.
But the fields say: only Time can bless.
Maguire knelt beside a pillar where he could spit
Without being seen. He turned an old prayer round:
'Jesus, Mary, Joseph pray for us
Now and at the Hour.' Heaven dazzled death.
'Wonder should I cross-plough that turnip-ground.'
The tension broke. The congregation lifted it head
As one man and coughed in unison.
Five hundred hearts were hungry for life-
Who lives in Christ shall never die the death.
And the candle-lit Altar and the flowers
And the pregnant Tabernacle lifted a moment to Prophecy
Out of the clayey hours
Maguire sprinkled his face with holy water
As the congregation stood up for the Last Gospel.
He rubbed the dust off his knees with his palm, and then
Coughed the prayer phlegm up from his throat and sighed: Amen.
Once one day in June when he was walking
Among his cattle in the Yellow Meadow
He met a girl carrying a basket
And he was then a young and heated fellow.
Too earnest, too earnest! He rushed beyond the thing
To the unreal. And he saw Sin
Written in letters larger than John Bunyan dreamt of.
For the strangled impulse there is no redemption.
And that girl was gone and he was counting
The dangers in the fields where love ranted
He was helpless. He saw his cattle
And stroked their flanks in lieu of wife to handle.
He would have changed the circle if he could,
The circle that was the grass track where he ran.
Twenty times a day he ran round the field
And still there was no winning-post where the runner is cheered home.
Desperately he broke the tune,
But however he tried always the same melody lept up from the background,
The dragging step of a ploughman going home through the guttery
Headlands under an April-watery moon.
Religion, the fields and the fear of the Lord
And Ignorance giving him the coward's blow,
He dared not rise to pluck the fantasies
From the fruited Tree of Life. He bowed his head
And saw a wet weed twined about his toe.

Evening at the cross-roads -
Heavy heads nodding out words as wise
As the ruminations of cows after milking.
From the ragged road surface a boy picks up
A piece of gravel and stares at it-and then
Tosses it across the elm tree on to the railway.
He means nothing.
Not a damn thing
Somebody is coming over the metal railway bridge
And his hobnailed boots on the arches sound like a gong
Calling men awake. But the bridge is too narrow -
The men lift their heads a moment. That was only John,
So they dream on.
Night in the elms, night in the grass.
O we are too tired to go home yet. Two cyclists pass
Talking loudly of Kitty and Molly?
Horses or women? wisdom or folly?
A door closes on an evicted dog
Where prayers begin in Barney Meegan's kitchen :
Rosie curses the cat between her devotions;
The daughter prays that she may have three wishes -
Health and wealth and love -
From the fairy who is faith or hope or compounds of.
At the cross-roads the crowd had thinned out:
Last words were uttered. There is no to-morrow;
No future but only time stretched for the mowing of the hay
Or putting an axle in the turf-barrow.
Patrick Maguire went home and made cocoa
And broke a chunk off the loaf of wheaten bread;
His mother called down to him to look again
And make sure that the hen-house was locked. His sister grunted in bed
The sound of a sow taking up a new position.
Pat opened his trousers wide over the ashes
And dreamt himself to lewd sleepiness.
The clock ticked on. Time passes.

Health and wealth and love he too dreamed of in May
As he sat on the railway slope and watched the children of the place
Picking up a primrose here and a daisy there -
They were picking up life's truth singly.
But he dreamt of the Absolute envased bouquet -
AIl or nothing. And it was nothing. For God is not all
In one place, complete
Till Hope comes in and takes it on his shoulder -
O Christ, that is what you have done for us:
In a crumb of bread the whole mystery is.
He read the symbol too sharply and turned
From the five simple doors of sense
To the door whose combination lock has puzzled
Philosopher and priest and common dunce.
Men build their heavens as they build their circles
Of friends. God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday -
A kiss here and a laugh again, and sometimes tears,
A pearl necklace round the neck of poverty.
He sat on the railway slope and watched the evening,
Too beautifully perfect to use,
And his three wishes were three stones too sharp to sit on,
Too hard to carve. Three frozen idols of a speechless muse.

'Now go to Mass and pray and confess your sins
And you'll have all the luck,' his mother said.
He listened to the lie that is a woman's screen
Around a conscience when soft thighs are spread.
And all the while she was setting up the lie
She trusted in Nature that never deceives.
But her son took it as literal truth.
Religion's walls expand to the push of nature. Morality yields
To sense - but not in little tillage fields.
Life went on like that. One summer morning
Again through a hay-field on her way to the shop -
The grass was wet and over-leaned the path -
And Agnes held her skirts sensationally up,
And not because the grass was wet either.
A man was watching her, Patrick Maguire.
She was in love with passion and its weakness
And the wet grass could never cool the fire
That radiated from her unwanted womb in that metaphysical land
Where flesh was thought more spiritual than music
Among the stars - out of reach of the peasant's hand.
Ah, but the priest was one of the people too -
A farmers son - and surely he knew
The needs of a brother and sister.
Religion could not be a counter-irritant like a blister,
But the certain standard, measured and known
By which man might re-make his soul though all walls were down
And all earth's pedestalled gods thrown.

Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He didn't care a damn.
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head,
Said whatever came into his head
And inconsequently sang.
While his world withered away,
He had a cigarette to smoke and a pound to spend
On drink the next Saturday.
His cattle were fat
And his horses all that
Midsummer grass could make them.
The young women ran wild
And dreamed of a child
Joy dreams though the fathers might forsake them
But no one would take them;
No man could ever see
That their skirts had loosed buttons,
O the men were as blind as could be.
And Patrick Maguire
From his. purgatory fire
Called the gods of the Christian to prove
That this twisted skein
Was the necessary pain
And not the rope that was strangling true love.
But sitting on a wooden gate
Sometime in July
When he was thirty-four or five
He gloried in the lie:
He made it read the way it should,
He made life read the evil good
While he cursed the ascetic brotherhood
Without knowing why.
Sitting on a wooden gate
All, all alone
He sang and laughed
Like a man quite daft,
Or like a man on a channel raft
He fantasied forth his groan.
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate,
Sitting on a wooden gate
He rode in day-dream cars.
He locked his body with his knees
When the gate swung too much in the breeze.
But while he caught high ecstasies
Life slipped between the bars.

He gave himself another year,
Something was bound to happen before then -
The circle would break down
And he would carve the new one to his own will.
A new rhythm is a new life
And in it marriage is hung and money.
He would be a new man walking through unbroken meadows
Of dawn in the year of One.
The poor peasant talking to himself in a stable door
An ignorant peasant deep in dung.
What can the passers-by think otherwise?
Where is his silver bowl of knowledge hung?
Why should men be asked to believe in a soul
That is only the mark of a hoof in guttery gaps?
A man is what is written on the label.
And the passing world stares but no one stops
To look closer. So back to the growing crops
And the ridges he never loved.
Nobody will ever know how much tortured poetry the pulled weeds on the ridge wrote
Before they withered in the July sun,
Nobody will ever read the wild, sprawling, scrawling mad woman's signature,
The hysteria and the boredom of the enclosed nun of his thought.
Like the afterbirth of a cow stretched on a branch in the wind
Life dried in the veins of these women and men:
'The grey and grief and unloved,
The bones in the backs of their hands,
And the chapel pressing its low ceiling over them.
Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight,
A narrow slice of divine instruction.
Going along the river at the bend of Sunday
The trout played in the pools encouragement
To jump in love though death bait the hook.
And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes.
Stretch-legged and lingering staring -
A man might take one of them if he had the courage.
But 'No' was in every sentence of their story
Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece.
The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes
On rocks in the middle of ploughing
Was a bright spoke in the wheel
Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at -
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again.
Talk in evening corners and under trees
Was like an old book found in a king's tomb.
The children gathered round like students and listened
And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb
And was not blown.

Their intellectual life consisted in reading
Reynolds News or the Sunday Dispatch,
With sometimes an old almanac brought down from the ceiling
Or a school reader brown with the droppings of thatch.
The sporting results or the headlines of war
Was a humbug profound as the highbrow's Arcana.
Pat tried to be wise to the abstraction of all that
But its secret dribbled down his waistcoat like a drink from a strainer.
He wagered a bob each way on the Derby,
He got a straight tip from a man in a shop -
A double from the Guineas it was and thought himself
A master mathematician when one of them came up
And he could explain how much he'd have drawn
On the double if the second leg had followed the first.
He was betting on form and breeding, he claimed,
And the man that did that could never be burst.
After that they went on to the war, and the generals
On both sides were shown to be stupid as hell.
If he'd taken that road, they remarked of a Marshal,
He'd have … O they know their geography well
This was their university. Maguire was an undergraduate
Who dreamed from his lowly position of rising
To a professorship like Larry McKenna or Duffy
Or the pig-gelder Nallon whose knowledge was amazing.
'A treble, full multiple odds … That's flat porter …
Another one … No, you're wrong about that thing I was telling you. .
Did you part with your filly, Jack? I heard that you sold her.…'
The students were all savants by the time of pub-close.

A year passed and another hurried after it
And Patrick Maguire was still six months behind life -
His mother six months ahead of it;
His sister straddle-legged across it: -
One leg in hell and the other in heaven
And between the purgatory of middle-aged virginity -
She prayed for release to heaven or hell.
His mother's voice grew thinner like a rust-worn knife
But it cut venomously as it thinned,
It cut him up the middle till he became more woman than man,
And it cut through to his mind before the end.
Another field whitened in the April air
And the harrows rattled over the seed.
He gathered the loose stones off the ridges carefully
And grumbled to his men to hurry. He looked like a man who could give advice
To foolish young fellows. He was forty-seven,
And there was depth in his jaw and his voice was the voice of a great cattle-dealer,
A man with whom the fair-green gods break even.
'I think I ploughed that lea the proper depth,
She ought to give a crop if any land gives …
Drive slower with the foal-mare, Joe.'
Joe, a young man of imagined wives,
Smiles to himself and answered like a slave:
'You needn't fear or fret.
I'm taking her as easy, as easy as …
Easy there Fanny, easy, pet.'
They loaded the day-scoured implements on the cart
As the shadows of poplars crookened the furrows.
It was the evening, evening. Patrick was forgetting to be lonely
As he used to be in Aprils long ago.
It was the menopause, the misery-pause.
The schoolgirls passed his house laughing every morning
And sometimes they spoke to him familiarly -
He had an idea. Schoolgirls of thirteen
Would see no political intrigue in an old man's friendship.
The heifer waiting to be nosed by the old bull.
That notion passed too - there was the danger of talk
And jails are narrower than the five-sod ridge
And colder than the black hills facing Armagh in February.
He sinned over the warm ashes again and his crime
The law's long arm could not serve with time.
His face set like an old judge's pose:
Respectability and righteousness,
Stand for no nonsense.
The priest from the altar called Patrick Maguire's name
To hold the collecting-box in the chapel door
During all the Sundays of May.
His neighbours envied him his holy rise,
But he walked down from the church with affected indifference
And took the measure of heaven angle-wise.
He still could laugh and sing,
But not the wild laugh or the abandoned harmony now
That called the world to new silliness from the top of a wooden gate
When thirty-five could take the sparrow's bow.
Let us be kind, let us be kind and sympathetic:
Maybe life is not for joking or for finding happiness in -
This tiny light in Oriental Darkness
Looking out chance windows of poetry or prayer.
And the grief and defeat of men like these peasants
Is God's way - maybe - and we must not want too much
To see.
The twisted thread is stronger than the wind-swept fleece.
And in the end who shall rest in truth's high peace?
Or whose is the world now, even now?
O let us kneel where the blind ploughman kneels
And learn to live without despairing
In a mud-walled space -
Illiterate unknown and unknowing.
Let us kneel where he kneels
And feel what he feels.
One day he saw a daisy and he thought it
Reminded him of his childhood -
He stopped his cart to look at it.
Was there a fairy hiding behind it?
He helped a poor woman whose cow
Had died on her;
He dragged home a drunken man on a winter's night
And one rare moment he heard the young people playing on the railway stile
And he wished them happiness and whatever they most desired from life.
He saw the sunlight and begrudged no man
His share of what the miserly soil and soul
Gives in a season to a ploughman.
And he cried for his own loss one late night on the pillow
And yet thanked the God who had arranged these things.
Was he then a saint?
A Matt Talbot of Monaghan?
His sister Mary Anne spat poison at the children
Who sometimes came to the door selling raffle tickets
For holy funds.
'Get out, you little tramps!' she would scream
As she shook to the hens an armful of crumbs,
But Patrick often put his hand deep down
In his trouser-pocket and fingered out a penny
Or maybe a tobacco-stained caramel.
'You're soft,' said the sister; 'with other people's money
It's not a bit funny.'
The cards are shuffled and the deck
Laid flat for cutting - Tom Malone
Cut for trump. I think we'll make
This game, the last, a tanner one.
Hearts. Right. I see you're breaking
Your two-year-old. Play quick, Maguire,
The clock there says it's half-past ten -
Kate, throw another sod on that fire.
One of the card-players laughs and spits
Into the flame across a shoulder.
Outside, a noise like a rat
Among the hen-roosts.
The cock crows over
The frosted townland of the night.
Eleven o'clock and still the game
Goes on and the players seem to be
Drunk in an Orient opium den.
Midnight, one o'clock, two.
Somebody's leg has fallen asleep.
What about home? Maguire, are you
Using your double-tree this week?
Why? do you want it? Play the ace.
There's it, and that's the last card for me.
A wonderful night, we had. Duffy's place
Is very convenient. Is that a ghost or a tree?
And so they go home with dragging feet
And their voices rumble like laden carts.
And they are happy as the dead or sleeping …
I should have led that ace of hearts.

The fields were bleached white,
The wooden tubs full of water
Were white in the winds
That blew through Brannagan's Gap on their way from Siberia;
The cows on the grassless heights .
Followed the hay that had wings -
The February fodder that hung itself on the black branches
Of the hill-top hedge.
A man stood beside a potato-pit
And clapped his arms
And pranced on the crisp roots
And shouted to warm himself.
Then he buck-leaped about the potatoes
And scooped them into a basket.
He looked like a bucking suck-calf
Whose spine was being tickled.
Sometimes he stared across the bogs
And sometimes he straightened his back and vaguely whistled
A tune that weakened his spirit
And saddened his terrier dog's.
A neighbour passed with a spade on his shoulder
And Patrick Maguire bent like a bridge
Whistled-good morning under his oxter
And the man the other side of the hedge
Champed his spade on the road at his toes
And talked an old sentimentality
While the wind blew under his clothes.
The mother sickened and stayed in bed all day,
Her head hardly dented the pillow, so light and thin it had worn,
But she still enquired after the household affairs.
She held the strings of her children's Punch and Judy, and when a mouth opened
It was her truth that the dolls would have spoken
If they hadn't been made of wood and tin -
'Did you open the barn door, Pat, to let the young calves in?'
The priest called to see her every Saturday
And she told him her troubles and fears:
'If Mary Anne was settled I'd die in peace -
I'm getting on in years.'
'You were a good woman,' said the priest,
'And your children will miss you when you're gone.
The likes of you this parish never knew,
I'm sure they'll not forget the work you've done.'
She reached five bony crooks under the tick -
'Five pounds for Masses - won't you say them quick.'
She died one morning in the beginning of May
And a shower of sparrow-notes was the litany for her dying.
The holy water was sprinkled on the bed-clothes
And her children stood around the bed and cried because it was too late for crying.
A mother dead! The tired sentiment:
'Mother, Mother' was a shallow pool
Where sorrow hardly could wash its feet …
Mary Anne came away from the deathbed and boiled the calves their gruel.
'O what was I doing when the procession passed?
Where was I looking? Young women and men
And I might have joined them.
Who bent the coin of my destiny
That it stuck in the slot?
I remember a night we walked
Through the moon of Donaghmoyne,
Four of us seeking adventure,
It was midsummer forty years ago.
Now I know
The moment that gave the turn to my life.
O Christ! I am locked in a stable with pigs and cows for ever.

The world looks on
And talks of the peasant:
The peasant has no worries;
In his little lyrical fields He ploughs and sows;
He eats fresh food,
He loves fresh women, He is his own master
As it was in the Beginning
The simpleness of peasant life.
The birds that sing for him are eternal choirs ,
Everywhere he walks there are flowers.
His heart is pure, His mind is clear,
He can talk to God as Moses and Isaiah talked
The peasant who is only one remove from the beasts he drives. '
'The travellers stop their cars to gape over the green bank into his fields: -
There is the source from which all cultures rise,
And all religions,
There is the pool in which the poet dips
And the musician.
Without the peasant base civilisation must die,
Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer's singing is useless.
The travellers touch the roots of the grass and feel renewed
When they grasp the steering wheels again.
The peasant is the unspoiled child of Prophecy,
The peasant is all virtues - let us salute him without irony
The peasant ploughman who is half a vegetable -
Who can react to sun and rain and sometimes even
Regret that the Maker of Light had not touched him more intensely.
Brought him up from the sub-soil to an existence
Of conscious joy. He was not born blind.
He is not always blind: sometimes the cataract yields
To sudden stone-falling or the desire to breed.
The girls pass along the roads
And he can remember what man is,
But there is nothing he can do.
Is there nothing he can do?
Is there no escape?
No escape, no escape.
The cows and horses breed,
And the potato-seed
Gives a bud and a root and rots
In the good mother's way with her sons;
The fledged bird is thrown
From the nest - on its own.
But the peasant in his little acres is tied
To a mother's womb by the wind-toughened navel-cord
Like a goat tethered to the stump of a tree -
He circles around and around wondering why it should be.
No crash, No drama.
That was how his life happened.
No mad hooves galloping in the sky,
But the weak, washy way of true tragedy -
A sick horse nosing around the meadow for a clean place to die.

We may come out in the October reality, Imagination,
The sleety wind no longer slants to the black hill where Maguire
And his men are now collecting the scattered harness and baskets.
The dog sitting on a wisp of dry stalks
Watches them through the shadows.
'Back in, back in.' One talks to the horse as to a brother.
Maguire himself is patting a potato-pit against the weather -
An old man fondling a new-piled grave:
'Joe, I hope you didn't forget to hide the spade .
For there's rogues in the townland.
Hide it flat in a furrow.
I think we ought to be finished by to-morrow.
Their voices through the darkness sound like voices from a cave,
A dull thudding far away, futile, feeble, far away,
First cousins to the ghosts of the townland.
A light stands in a window. Mary Anne
Has the table set and the tea-pot waiting in the ashes.
She goes to the door and listens and then she calls
From the top of the haggard-wall :
'What's keeping you
And the cows to be milked and all the other work there's to do?'
'All right, all right
We'll not stay here all night '
Applause, applause,
The curtain falls.
Applause, applause
From the homing carts and the trees
And the bawling cows at the gates.
From the screeching water-hens
And the mill-race heavy with the Lammas floods curving over the weir
A train at the station blowing off steam
And the hysterical laughter of the defeated everywhere.
Night, and the futile cards are shuffled again.
Maguire spreads his legs over the impotent cinders that wake no manhood now
And he hardly looks to see which card is trump.
His sister tightens her legs and her lips and frizzles up
Like the wick of an oil-less lamp.
The curtain falls -
Applause, applause.
Maguire is not afraid of death, the Church will light him a candle
To see his way through the vaults and he'll understand the
Quality of the clay that dribbles over his coffin.
He'll know the names of the roots that climb down to tickle his feet.
And he will feel no different than when he walked through Donaghmoyne.
If he stretches out a hand - a wet clod,
If he opens his nostrils - a dungy smell;
If he opens his eyes once in a million years -
Through a crack in the crust of the earth he may see a face nodding in
Or a woman's legs.
Shut them again for that sight is sin.
He will hardly remember that life happened to him -
Something was brighter a moment. Somebody sang in the distance
A procession passed down a mesmerized street.
He remembers names like Easter and Christmas
By colour his fields were.
Maybe he will be born again, a bird of an angel's conceit
To sing the gospel of life
To a music as flighty tangent
As a tune on an oboe.
And the serious look of his fields will have changed to the leer of a hobo.
Swaggering celestially home to his three wishes granted.
Will that be? will that be?
Or is the earth right that laughs haw-haw
And does not believe
In an unearthly law.
The earth that says:
Patrick Maguire, the old peasant, can neither be damned nor glorified:
The graveyard in which he will lie will be just a deep-drilled potato-field
Where the seed gets no chance to come through
To the fun of the sun.
The tongue in his mouth is the root of a yew.
Silence, silence. The story is done.
He stands in the doorway of his house
A ragged sculpture of the wind,
October creaks the rotted mattress,
The bedposts fall. No hope. No lust.
The hungry fiend
Screams the apocalypse of clay
In every corner of this land.

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